Crystal Glen, Crystals, CF14 5QN
A striking church of 1964 by Thomas Price, designed on a T-shaped plan to encourage active participation in the liturgy. The building has a steel frame and rendered brick walls. Continuous full-height strip windows create a light interior.
St Brigid’s became a parish in the 1950s, and a Mass centre dedicated to Our Lady Queen of the Universe was set up on the Llanishen estate shortly afterwards. In the 1960s this became a separate parish, and in the 1970s was rededicated to Christ the King. Also in the 1960s a second Mass centre was set up from St Brigid’s at the then Lady Mary High School in Cyncoed Road, which was replaced in 1975 by a new church dedicated to St Paul with its own parish. The three churches were reunited in 2004. St Brigid’s and St Paul’s remain one parish and Christ the King another, but all three are served from St Brigid’s.
Mass was celebrated for the first time in the Crystals in 1947 in a welfare centre. The centre was served from St Teilo until a new parish of Heath and Llanishen was erected in 1952, when a lease was taken on the welfare centre, which was converted to a church. The congregation continued to grow and in 1963 a new church was started, with seating for 400 and a new presbytery. The work was completed in September 1964 and the church was opened by Archbishop Murphy on 1 December that year. The architect was Thomas Price of F. R. Bates, Son & Price of Newport. The main contractors were Messrs Charles Winstone of Cardiff.
The church is in an uncluttered modern style, with a T-shaped plan whose three main arms taper slightly towards the ends. It is of steel portal frame construction with brick infill panels, rendered externally. The pitched roofs are covered with concrete tiles. The main west front has a bold concrete canopy over the main doorway pierced by a tapering concrete pier which above the canopy supports a cross. Under the roof gable is a triangular window with simple concrete tracery. The side walls of both nave and transepts have continuous full-height strip windows. The short sanctuary is flanked by lower sacristies and a Lady Chapel on the north side.
Internally, the walls are rough textured with a sand and cement finish, now painted. The steel frames and roof purlins are exposed. The floors are carpeted. The full height strip windows are mostly clear glazed, giving a very light interior. At the west end of the nave is an organ gallery with a bowed centre, the gallery reached by an elegant open spiral stair on the south side. The space under the gallery on the north side was originally the baptistery, with an openwork metal screen. The sanctuary dais fills much of the crossing area, with a further three steps for the altar. The font, of Price’s trademark tapering form, has been moved from the baptistery to the sanctuary area and the communion rails have been removed. The church retains its original seating.
Architect: F. R. Bates, Son & Price
Original Date: 1964
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed