Building » Cardiff (Grangetown) – St Patrick

Cardiff (Grangetown) – St Patrick

Pentrebane Street, Grangetown, CF11 7LJ

An interwar red brick Italian Romanesque design by Joseph Goldie, with the earlier presbytery forming a prominent group overlooking Grange Gardens. The interior is relatively little-altered and contains some furnishings of note. An intended tower was never built.

Grangetown takes its name from The Grange, the estate of the Baroness Windsor, which was developed from 1857 as ‘an artisan and respectable working-class suburb’ (Newman). The southern section, with Paget Street its spine, was developed in the 1890s.

In 1866 Fr Fortunatis Signini IC of St Peter’s, Roath opened a church-school at Durham Street, Grangetown, one of seven schools he instigated in Cardiff. Mass was said by Rosminians coming from St David’s and St Peter’s. In 1882 the mission acquired its own priest, and a church was built alongside the school, a gothic design by John J. Hurley.

In 1891 Fr W. H. Brady took over the mission and secured a site for a new church and presbytery at Grange Gardens. Plans were drawn up for the presbytery in 1911, but it was not built until 1922. The rest of the site was cultivated as allotments until 1929 when, under Fr Canon F. H. Garrett, plans were finally put in hand for the building of the church. The foundation stone was laid by Dr Denis Cantillon in the presence of Archbishop Mostyn of Cardiff on 17 March (St Patrick’s Day) 1929, and the completed church was opened exactly one year later. It was built from designs by Joseph Goldie and the contract was awarded to E. Turner & Sons of Grangetown. The high altar, communion rails and pulpit were donated by the Cantillon family. The Tablet reported:

‘The new church of St Patrick at Grangetown, Cardiff, to be opened on the titular feast day, is a building in the Romanesque style, from designs by Mr. Joseph Goldie, of Westminster, to accommodate 750 worshippers. The church consists of a nave with choir gallery, aisles, transepts, apsidal chancel, two side chapels, and three confessionals. Large sacristies also are provided, connected by a passage-way to the adjoining presbytery. The principal dimensions of the building are: nave 83 ft. 9 ins. by 28 ft. 6 ins.; aisles, 11 ft. 6 ins.; chancel, 29 ft. by 26 ft. The style has been kept as simple and free from ornament as possible, but there is scope for much future decoration. Exclusive of the boundary wall and railings, and the altar and other fittings, the cost of the church is about £11,800’.

Deep foundations were laid beneath the baptistery at the northwest corner to allow for an intended tower, but this was never built. The consecration souvenir records that after the war the church began to show signs of subsidence and ‘a massive job of reconstruction was put in hand at great cost’.

The church was consecrated by Archbishop Murphy of Cardiff on 17 March (St Patrick’s Day), 1972. The reordering of the sanctuary (with a new forward altar) took place shortly before this (architect Thomas Price of F.R. Bates, Son & Price).


The main entrance faces (roughly) north, but this description assumes conventional liturgical orientation, i.e. with the altar to the east.

The church was built in 1929-30 from designs by Joseph Goldie. It is in Italian Romanesque style, built of red Ruabon brick with Bath stone dressings under slate roofs. It is of cruciform plan, consisting of an aisled nave with western gallery, transepts and apsidal sanctuary and side chapels. Sacristies give off the sanctuary and north transept and are connected by a passageway to the adjoining earlier presbytery. The main entrance front has a central projecting gabled round arched entrance, surmounted by a Portland stone statue of St Patrick under a stone canopy. Short round-arched windows flank the entrance and taller ones the statue, while the gable above has a brick and stone chequerboard pattern and central oculus. To left and right the end bays of the aisles are treated as transeptal projections, each with one round window. At the foot of the projecting porch on the left hand side is the foundation stone. The side elevations are plainly treated, with round arched openings to the aisles, clerestorey and transepts (raised circular windows over the confessionals). At the east end, the sanctuary is side-lit with a windowless apse, while the side chapels have high-level round arched windows to the apses.

Inside, a narthex under the organ gallery occupies the western bay of the nave. The western bays of the aisles are separated from their respective aisles by arches, with a stair to the gallery to the south and the former baptistery to the north (now a piety stall). The nave is of six bays, with square piers with simple moulded capitals supporting round arches, a clerestorey and an open timber roof of Early Christian character. The nave arcade is somewhat disfigured by the heating system, which runs along its entire length on both sides. Confessionals give off the third bay of the aisles on either side, with round windows above. The transepts give off the eastern bay of the nave. A chancel arch divides the sanctuary from the nave, and smaller arches the side chapels from the transepts. The sanctuary and side chapels (Sacred Heart to the north, Lady Chapel to the south) have plastered ceilings.

Furnishings include a neo-Romanesque reredos to the former high altar, which was given by the Cantillon family. This is of Portland stone and marble with inset mosaic detail, adapted since 1972 to incorporate a stone presidential chair at its centre (supporting the domed brass tabernacle). The alpha and omega symbols on either side may be from the antependium of the former high altar. The forward altar has neo-Romanesque Portland stone and marble arcading on its antependium, reused from the original sanctuary communion rails. The original stone octagonal font has been moved into the sanctuary, and gold mosaic applied to its stem (possibly in 1971, to complement the stone and mosaic ambo, which looks to be of that date). A suspended crucifix hangs over the entrance to the sanctuary. The original communion rails and gates survive in the side chapels. According to the parish website, the altar in the Sacred Heart chapel was brought from the old church, but incorporates mosaic detail from the original pulpit, which has been removed. The Lady Chapel altar appears to be more modern, in effect serving as a plinth for statues of Our Lady and St Bernadette of Lourdes.

The church retains its original bench seating (according to the parish website, those at the front were originally subject to pew rents and had brass name plates on them until 1955). In the aisles is a good set of large, high relief polychrome Stations of the Cross. The windows are leaded, mainly with clear or tinted cathedral glass, but there are also two stained glass windows. A single-light window in the north aisle (St Margaret Mary Alacoque and the Sacred Heart, to Margaret Clarke, d.1935) is signed A. A. Orr and F. Humphreys. A three-light window to deceased members of the Murphy family in the south transept (Holy Family, Immaculate Conception etc.) is not signed or dated, but is not dissimilar in style. It includes a figure of an angel holding a model of an unidentified church.

Heritage Details

Architect: J. Goldie

Original Date: 1930

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed