University of Wales, Lampeter Archive

Scope and Content

The archive contains papers created by various officers of, and departments within the university, along with associations directly related to the university. These include papers of the Court; Council; Senate; past governing bodies; principals; the Administration Division; Information Services; academic schools; the college chapel; the Lampeter Society; various student societies; St. David's College School; various university and university related publications; photographs and works of art; papers relating to individual members of staff and students; papers concerning the founding of the college; AUT papers and the papers of Gownsman Publications Ltd.

Administrative / Biographical History

St David's College was founded by Bishop Thomas Burgess, and admitted its first students, after almost 25 years of preparation, on St David's Day 1827. It is the oldest university institution in Wales, with only the ancient universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Scotland predating it throughout Britain. The College received its charter in 1828, and until the mid-twentieth century remained an independent college, awarding degrees in a range of subjects, but remaining closely linked to the church.

Thomas Burgess was appointed Bishop of St David's in 1803, and he immediately recognised the need for the establishment of a college in the diocese for the training of men for entry into the ministry, especially those who could not afford to attend university. This need was highlighted by the fact that there weren't enough Welsh graduates, let alone Welsh-speaking graduates, to supply the needs of the four Welsh dioceses. Burgess promoted various schemes for the achievement of his aim, suggesting that clergy within the diocese should collect subscriptions from the public, and donate one tenth of their yearly income to the college fund. Originally Burgess intended to build his new college in Llandewi-Brefi, a town roughly 8 miles from Lampeter, similar in size during this period, and of great religious significance within Wales. A site was found, but the work was delayed until further funds were collected and the college was granted a charter. It was during this period of delay that Bishop Burgess met J S Harford, a great landowner with strong links to Lampeter. Harford recognised the benefits that a college could bring to his locality, and offered Burgess the Castle Fields, a site he owned within the town of Lampeter. Burgess gladly accepted the offer. Plans were drawn up by the architect C R Cockerell, and the foundation stone was laid on the 12th of August 1822.

Burgess left St. David's in 1825 to become Bishop of Salisbury, but work on the college continued, largely supervised by Harford. The £16,000 required to erect the college had been raised from public donations, a government grant, and highly publicised gifts, including one from King George IV. The main college building, now known as the Saint David's Building, was completed in 1827, and the college officially opened on St. David's Day of that year, welcoming its 26 original students.

The first College Principal was the Rev. Llewelyn Lewellin, who remained in the post until his death in 1878. His deputy was Alfred Ollivant, and Rice Rees made up the original complement of staff as Professor of Welsh. Lewellin's successor was the Rev. F J Jayne, who steered Lampeter through the difficult years following the 1880 Aberdare report on intermediate and higher education in Wales. The report recommended that the Colleges at Aberystwyth and Lampeter be united to form one institution, but Jayne fought the plan and retained St. David's College's independence. Jayne continued to fight for Lampeter for many years after leaving the institution in 1886, and spoke on behalf of the college in the 1893 House of Lords debate regarding the establishment of the University of Wales.

Independence was retained, despite the financial problems it caused, until the 1960s, when St. David's College established its first links with the University of Wales. This allowed it to claim full government funding from the Treasury. A further step was taken in 1971, when the College became a full member institution of the University of Wales. Yet the College retained the core of its original title, becoming known as St. David's University College. This title was then changed in 1996 in line with those held by the University of Wales' other constituent institutions, and St. David's College was re-named the University of Wales, Lampeter.

Students originally came to Lampeter to study theology. But subsequent years have seen an expansion in the subjects covered, and the opening of new departments. The 1896 charter specifically stated that the college could accept anyone, regardless of whether they intended to take Holy Orders. The College was provided with a science chair soon after its establishment by sponsor Thomas Phillips, and went on to develop admired classics and history departments. The provision of Welsh was also increased, following its unfortunate decline with the departure of Rice Rees. Today, Lampeter offers an even wider range of courses, with information technology and business management among many study programmes available.

The campus has developed greatly since its early years, when Cockerill's building was the sole home of College activities. The Canterbury Building was opened in 1897, and a new replacement version erected in 1973. The new library appeared in 1966, the Arts Building in 1971, and the Cliff Tucker Theatre in 1995. A new Department of Theology was completed in October 1997. The original college building is now known as the St. David's Building, and houses lecture rooms, a chapel, administrative services and the Welsh department. Development has also occurred in the area of student accommodation, with the building of modern halls such as Carl Lofmark and Roderick Bowen to house Lampeter's current 2000 students.

Conditions Governing Access

The papers may be consulted through application to Peter Hopkins, Curator, Roderic Bowen Library and Archives, Trinity Saint David, Ceredigion, SA48 7ED. Tel 01570 424716, email:

Access to certain series of confidential records may be restricted.

Acquisition Information

The papers were accumulated at the library of the University of Wales, Lampeter by Rev D T W Price, former Lecturer in History at UWL and honorary archivist, whilst conducting research for his books A History of St. David's University College, Lampeter, Vols. 1 and 2, (University of Wales Press, 1977 and 1990).


Description compiled by Rhian Phillips, Archives Hub project archivist, with reference to D T W Price, A History of St. David's University College, Lampeter, vols. 1 and 2, (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1977 and 1990); D T W Price, 'Hanes Coleg Prifysgol Dewi Sant, Llanbedr Pont Steffan', in H T Edwards (ed.), Bro'r Eisteddfod 4: Llanbedr Pont Steffan, (Llandybie: Salesbury Press, 1984);, and the University of Wales, Lampeter Archive.

Other Finding Aids

Basic finding aid available at the University of Wales, Lampeter.


See D T W Price, A History of St. David's University College, Lampeter, Vols. 1 and 2, (University of Wales Press, 1977 and 1990).