The Choir

Visiting the Cathedral in the mid fourteenth century, the poet Dafydd ap Gwilym observed:

as for the choir,
there is no one who can be compared to them

Unfortunately, that is all we know about the choir until two hundred years later when, in 1557, the Bangor Grammar School, commonly known as Friars, was established. The school’s founder, Geoffrey Glyn, provided in his will for ten poor scholars to receive the sum of £2 annually, and the school statutes directed that they should attend the Cathedral wearing surplices on Sundays and holy days. Whether they were meant to act as choristers was not clear, but as they were in their surplices it was natural to make them sing!

The first singing man (as they were then called) was appointed in 1689. From 1691 there were two with an annual salary of £6, and in 1698 the number was raised to four and the stipend to £8.

In 1691 it was decided that the Friars scholars who sang in the cathedral should be called ‘singing boys’ and paid from Cathedral funds. Practice was twice a week, on Thursdays and Saturdays. The rest of their education they received in Friars School where they would pursue their course in Latin and Greek as laid down by Elizabethan statutes.

There are now on average twenty choristers chosen from local primary schools who can travel many miles to attend practice sessions and services. The men – now called lay clerks – come from many walks of life and their number is augmented in term time by students from the University.