Building » Cardiff (Rumney) – Blessed Sacrament

Cardiff (Rumney) – Blessed Sacrament

Wentloog Road, Rumney, CF3 3HE

A striking modern design, built before the Second Vatican Council to the designs of Thomas Price, responding creatively to the constraints of the site. Newman (Buildings of Wales) describes the church as ‘mildly Expressionist in its use of insistent pointed forms’. There have been some minor alterations both external and internal but much of the original character remains.

In 1931 the Archdiocese of Cardiff purchased a small Baptist chapel in Rumney and converted it for use as a Catholic church. With the building of new estates and private houses in the post-war years, the size of the congregation increased and a new church seating about 350 was built behind the existing presbytery. Work commenced in December 1958 and the building was opened on 20 March 1960. The architect was Thomas Price of F.R. Bates, Son & price, the contractors Messrs Herbert of Newport. The site of the new church was enclosed by other buildings on three sides and this influenced the design, most obvious in the large west window.

The former chapel was demolished and its site became a fore area to a shrine of Our Lady. As first built, the church had a canopy across the main front. The space beneath the canopy has since been enclosed. Today the church is served from St John Lloyd, Trowbridge (qv).

Description

The church is not orientated; the liturgical east end faces north. In the following description all directions are liturgical.

The building is modern in style with a prominent steeply-pitched main roof. The plan now comprises a low, flat-roofed narthex across the whole front incorporating a southwest baptistery, a nave and sanctuary under a continuous pitched roof and a south aisle. The main structure is a concrete frame with brick or blockwork infill, now rendered externally and internally. The tall main roof is covered in tiles and the south aisle has a metal roof covering.

The main west front has a flat-roofed forebuilding across its whole width, originally an open-fronted porch, with an open gablet above the entrance and a baptistery at the southwest corner marked by a triple window. The porch has now been enclosed. Behind the porch rises the tall gabled west end of the main building, which is fully glazed. The south aisle has four large hexagonal windows set edge to edge under a serrated roofline. The north nave wall has four smaller hexagonal window openings. The sanctuary is narrower than the nave and the side walls have three rows of small square windows set under an eaves line rising to the east end of the church. The east end wall is blind.

Internally, the most striking feature is the substantial latticework roof trusses, which are presumably of steel and concrete. The nave floor has a vinyl covering, the walls are plastered and painted and the windows are clear glazed. At the west end of the south aisle is the former baptistery, separated from the body of the church by openwork metal screens and still containing the original stone font. The south aisle has six openings to the nave between the concrete piers of the main frame, of which the four in the centre have triangular heads while those at the ends are flat. A bold concrete arch marks the transition from the nave to the sanctuary, whose plaster ceiling rises towards the east end and has lozenge patterning. The two upper rows of the small side windows follow the rising ceiling line. On the south side wall is a recess or sedilia with a triangular head.

Of the original furnishings, the high altar remains in situ though there is now a later forward altar with openwork pattern, possibly by Price. The central section of the communion rails has been removed but some elements still survive. The timber nave benches are also original.

Heritage Details

Architect: F. R. Bates, Son & Price of Newport

Original Date: 1960

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed