Bridgend Road, Aberkenfig, CF32 9BA
A stone-built chapel of plain Gothic design, built in 1879 by the Benedictines as a combined school and chapel-of-ease to St Mary, Bridgend. The church was reordered and most of its original furnishings replaced after Vatican II.
In 1873 Dom Robert Isidore Green OSB was appointed to the mission at St Mary’s Bridgend, and resolved to establish a chapel-of-ease and school at Aberkenfig. Within five years he was able to raise £1000, and construction of a combined church and school on the site of a former ore tip on the main road to Maesteg was completed in 1879. The church was dedicated to St Robert of Newminster, a Cistercian saint of the twelfth century. The builder was a Mr Preece; the identity of the architect is not recorded.
In 1924 the independent parish of St Robert of Newminster was created. Two years later a separate school was constructed, from which point the church was used exclusively as a place of worship. A parish hall was built in 1927, planned by Fr Benedict Inizan OSB, the first parish priest.
After 93 years of service the Benedictines left Bridgend in 1949 and the Archdiocese of Cardiff took over responsibility for the church. In 1981 major repairs were carried out and the interior was reordered, including the installation of a new altar dedicated by Archbishop Murphy on 9 July. To mark the millennium, a new stained glass window was installed at the rear of the church, designed by Bianca Thomas, a pupil at St Thomas’ school.
The building is a simple Gothic design consisting of a nave and south transept, with the west porch, north chapel, sanctuary, and sacristies all under lower rooflines. The church is built of randomly coursed rock-faced granite with sandstone dressings and slate roof coverings. At the west end is an octofoil plater tracery window, elsewhere there is a combination of rounded-headed and pointed lancet windows.
The small porch leads into the rear of the nave, one west window has stained glass, installed in 2000 to mark the millennium; designed by Bianca Thomas, it depicts schoolchildren; all other windows are clear. A pipe organ at the west end was installed in the 1950s and is dedicated to the memory of Fr Green, first mission priest of St Robert’s. The nave is aisleless and four bays in length with an arch-braced roof, the timbers partially obscured by panelling. On a plinth on the north wall of the nave is a plaster statue of St Brigid with a Gaelic and Welsh brass inscription plaque. There is a small north chapel the opening of which has quoins, within is a shrine of St Joseph with a modern wooden statue and a large wooden crucifix. A portable modern oak font is also stored here. The sanctuary is up one step, it has north and south windows; the altar is a modern carved and painted stone block type with PX detail. The tabernacle is silvered and cylindrical and set on a high shelf flanked by shelves for six altar candles. At both sides of the sanctuary are oak statues of Our Lady and the Sacred Heart set on matching pitch pine Gothic plinths. To the south is a large transept with a wide arch; within are sacristies, storerooms and a WC.
Architect: Not established
Original Date: 1879
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed