Press Releases 2014-2015

The University of Wales Trinity Saint David celebrates Founders’ Day


On Wednesday, November 18th, the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) will mark its establishment with ‘Founders’ Day’ – a day of events and celebrations focused on the University’s Lampeter campus.

The University – or St David’s College, Lampeter as it was originally known - was established by Bishop Thomas Burgess in 1822 to provide a liberal education to members of the clergy and it’s his birthday that the University celebrates today.

As the oldest degree-awarding institution in England and Wales after the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, UWTSD is immensely proud of its heritage and looks forward to celebrating the birthday of its founder with a number of events including a public lecture given by Professor Mike Scott which will be held at the Old Hall on the Lampeter Campus at 4.30pm. 

Traditionally, Bishop Thomas Burgess of St Davids has been honoured as the principal founder and benefactor of what was to become St David’s College, Lampeter.  Bishop Burgess was a significant figure in the cultural, religious and social history of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and his early career was concerned with advocating for the emancipation of slaves and evangelistic work among the poor, although his major scholarly contribution was in the field of classical studies.

The University’s creation seems to have been largely his idea, but over the years until 1822 when the foundation stone was laid, he gained the backing of some 130 other donors to bring that idea to fruition, including the support of the reigning monarch George IV.

The Foundation Stone of St. David’s College was laid in 1822 and its first students were admitted on Saint David’s Day, 1827, but the College’s Royal Charter of Incorporation was not completed until 1828 when it was sealed by King George IV on 6th February of that year.  Indeed, the King was regarded as ‘The Royal Founder’ with his Coat of Arms adorns the tower of the St David’s Building.

There was a long list of notable benefactors including prominent landowners but some of the most interesting figures are those connected with banking, commerce, industry and agricultural improvement.  Many leading humanitarian campaigners can also be included on the long list of supporters, including William Wilberforce and Henry Thornton who advocated the abolition of slavery including.

John Burgess, the bishop’s elder brother and another benefactor, was typical of the new commercial entrepreneurs - he was the founder of the London firm, Burgess & Son, the pioneers of mail-order trade in sauces, oils and pickles.  Others included Lord de Dunstanville; Lord Carrington; William Henry Hoare and Walter Wilkins – all of whom were wealthy and influential bankers.  Innovative industrialists were also eager to contribute, including Thomas Mansel Talbot; Richard Crawshay; Benjamin Hall; Lord de Dunstanville as well as Lord Carrington on his Llanfair Clydogau estate near the college. Lords Cawdor and Dynevor – both of whom made significant contributors to improvements in west Walian agricultural practice – were also keen to help establish the new educational institution.

From the outset, St David’s College, Lampeter was supported by the new ‘middle class’ - innovators, businessmen, industrialists. Their money underpinned it, and the breadth of their interests is reflected in the works which came to stock its library.

The students here were encouraged to think widely and think globally – a necessity for the new generation of clergy, many of whom would serve in the burgeoning industrial towns of south Wales or in areas where new agricultural techniques were increasingly being employed. The college library was not just for them, but also intended to benefit local entrepreneurs, and it attracted the notice of scholars from further afield - even Prince Lucien Bonaparte, nephew of the Emperor Napoleon I.

Since the signing of the original Charter, a number of revisions to the College Statutes have been drawn up for example to award Postgraduate Degrees; to incorporate the college in to the University of Wales in the 1970s, and to sanction its merger with Trinity College Carmarthen in 2010. Most recently, the Great Seal and Letters Patent were applied to the Supplemental Royal Charter in October 2013, following the merger with Swansea Metropolitan University.

Over the years the Lampeter campus of the University has developed a range of subjects and enjoys a reputation for undergraduate and postgraduate provision in a variety of subjects, including English, Archaeology, Chinese Studies, Classics, History, Theology, Philosophy, Anthropology, and Creative Writing.

As the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, the academic community continues to thrive and the range of programmes offered attracts a diverse cohort of students from Wales, the UK and beyond.

Note to Editor

  1. For more information please contact Sian-Elin Davies, Senior PR and Communications Officer, on 01267 676908 / / 07449 998476
  2. The University of Wales Trinity Saint David was established in 2010 through the merger of the University of Wales Lampeter and Trinity University College, Carmarthen. On 1 August 2013 the Swansea Metropolitan University merged with the University
  3. The University’s Royal Charter 1828 is the oldest in Wales, and it is third behind Oxford and Cambridge in Wales and England. HRH Prince of Wales is the Patron of the University.
  4. On 1 August, 2013 Coleg Sir Gâr merged with the University of Wales Trinity Saint David Group, however they will keep their own brand. Coleg Ceredigion merged with the Group on 1 January 2014.