Diocese of St Davids: Press Release

The Secret Garden comes back to life



There’s a secret lying hidden at the bottom of the Bishop’s garden – and it’s about to be revealed.

In its heyday, the Bishop’s Palace in Abergwili, near Carmarthen, overlooked what commentators of the time described as “a noble estate” that had been the residence of the Bishops of St Davids since 1536.


That was in the 1850s. Since then what’s become known as the Bishop’s Park has seen fluctuating fortunes. The building is now the county museum and the gardens left largely to Mother Nature

But now the park’s trustees are embarking on a five-year, multi-million pound project to restore the grounds to their former glory.


And the centrepiece of the story is a walled garden which Trust volunteers have started to restore with help from initial funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The Bishop’s Park restoration is part of a wider Tywi Gateway initiative which aims to open up the entire Tywi Valley for leisure and tourism, including a cycle path all the way to Llandeilo

And even at this early stage, they’ve uncovered a treasure trove of history going back hundreds of years.


Last weekend (March 11), the Bishop herself paid a visit to see what exactly was going on at the bottom of her garden and pronounced herself well pleased with what she saw.

The scheme remains subject to further lottery funding but, given a fair wind and the backing it seeks, the Towy Gateway – and the Bishop’s Garden – will be restored in about five years.

Looking for Trustees

Do you love Carmarthenshire? Do you care about our heritage, landscape and the environment? Would you like to be involved at the start of a something new and exciting?


At Ymddiriedolaeth Drws i’r Dyffryn – Tywi Gateway Trust – we’re seeking individuals to support the community-driven redevelopment of the Bishops Park at Abergwili, Carmarthen. It’s a place notable for its cultural and archaeological history but also for landscape features  like the Great Meadow, the Bishop’s Pond (a site of Special Scientific Interest) or the famous ‘ha-ha’. At its heart is the former Palace of the Bishops of St Davids, a Listed building, now Carmarthenshire County Museum – a treasure trove.

If you like a challenge and have experience in horticulture, the arts, the environment, fundraising, volunteering or a background in business, finance, law, museums, heritage or education – then why not join us. Our vision it to create a place that we can all be proud of – for enjoyment, recreation, learning, participation and fun! We’ll be integrating our visitor facilities with those of the Museum to help assure the future of both – a truly unique partnership.

Find out more on (CC3) The Essential Trustee www.gov.uk


The Trust is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) with voting Members other than its Charity Trustees. CIO Registered No. 1167244. The role of our Trustees is to ensure that the organisation functions within legal and financial requirements of a company and charity, and to be responsible for overall governance and strategic direction.


Contact details: sallymoss@tywigateway.org.uk or 6 Carmarthen Street, Llandeilo. SA19 6AE

Community Drop-in Weekend on 11 and 12 March


Saturday 4 pm. Official Opening of the Walled Garden Door, by the Right Reverend Joanna Penberthy, Bishop of St Davids.


Programme for Saturday 11 March and Sunday 12 March

11am – 3.00 pm View Our Plans for the Park – Have Your Say. Carmarthenshire County Museum.

11am Guided Walk. About 1 hour; stout footwear recommended. Meet at car-park. Dogs on short leads.

12 – 1pm.  Behind the Scenes at the Museum.  Meet the team, find out about exciting plans to improve our museums and how to get involved.  Limited spaces so please register your interest at the reception desk on arrival.

12.30 pm – 4.00 pm. Walled Garden Hidden Secrets. Meet the archaeologists! Try your hand at dowsing! Dogs on short leads.

2-4 pm  Family Drop-in Workshop, suitable for all ages.  Celebrate the start of spring with a wildlife inspired craft activity. Museum.

3 pm. Guided Walk. About 1 hour; stout footwear recommended. Meet at car-park. Dogs on short leads.

4.00 pm 5.30 pm Refreshments and Exhibition. View an exhibition of art work from Abergwili Voluntary Controlled County Primary School, with historic photos and images. Church Hall.

5.30 pm. The Park’s Future. What’s In It For You and the Family. Church Hall, with Q & A session and refreshments.

Note that the programme may change, depending on the weather.


For more information please contact michael@tywigateway.org.uk 01558 825992, or 01570 422380.
For Museum events contact 01267 228696.