Site of Greyfriars, Cardiff, August 2017
Greyfriars was sometimes referred to as a Priory and sometimes as a Friary, the latter being correct, as it was a Franciscan Friary. It was not part of Cathays Park but lay just to the south of the park, across the Dock Feeder Canal. Its western boundary was the modern day North Road.
The friary is thought to have been founded by the Grey Friars in the 13th century, probably around 1280. The Grey Friars were also known as the Friars Minor and the Franciscans. Greyfriars escaped destruction in 1404 when Owen Glyndwr set fire to most of the town of Cardiff, including the nearby Blackfriars. Greyfriars was demolished at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries by order of Henry VIII in approximately 1540.
In about 1570 the land was acquired by the Herbert family who built a mansion using stone taken from the friary. Sir George Herbert acquired the site, and the mansion was built by his grandson, Sir William. This mansion was known as The Friars or Greyfriars. Part of it was still standing in the early 20th century, described as "a light handsome structure in the Tudor style." Later also called Whitefriars, it is thought to have been occupied by the Herbert family until about 1730. Subsequently it fell into disrepair and in 1790 was sold to the Marquis of Bute. By the late nineteenth century the only standing ruin was a part of the Herbert mansion.
In the 1890s the Third Marquis of Bute initiated some excavations by Messrs Kempson and Fowler, and these revealed foundations of the friary as well as the floor of the church.
At this time the site served as a nursery for the Castle Gardens, occupying the south eastern corner. By the 1920s the Castle Gardens had been moved and that part of the site was occupied by buildings fronting Queen Street.
The friary foundations and church floor were enclosed by the Fourth Marquis in 1928 to preserve the remaining relics.
The Herbert house ruins were demolished in the 1960s to make way for the Pearl Assurance building, which is now called the Capital Tower. #history #kingswaycardiff #cardiff #wales #friary #greyfriars