Townmill Road, Cowbridge, CF71 1BE
A church of simple modern of Arts and Crafts character, built from designs by Thomas Price in 1955-56 and sympathetically extended at the west end in in the 1980s.
At the turn of the twentieth century the small number of Catholics living in Cowbridge had to travel to Bridgend or Barry for regular Mass. In May 1921 the first official public Mass was celebrated in Llantwit Major (approximately five miles away) in Ham House. A local Catholic, Mr Lewis Turnbull had purchased the property earlier that year from the Nicholl family (major donors at St Mary’s, Bridgend, qv). By 1939 Mass was celebrated once a month in the Blue Bell Inn at Cowbridge and during the 1940s twice a year, on Easter Monday and the Feast of St Stephen (Boxing Day), by the priest at Bridgend.
In 1950 the Rev. J. Magner was appointed the first parish priest of Llantwit Major, Cowbridge, and Rhoose. He lived at Llantwit Major, initially in a caravan beside the corrugated iron chapel there. Mass was said at Cowbridge at the Bear Hotel, and from 1953 in West House, the home of Mr and Mrs Sheppard. The YMCA in the town also occasionally served as a Mass centre. Then in 1955-6 a church was finally built, by the Rev. H. B. Morris. The site was donated by L. E. W. Williams, who stipulated that the church be constructed in a traditional style. It has a modern Arts and Crafts character, the external roughcast walls and plain buttresses dying into the walls somewhat reminiscent of Voysey, the stilted pointed arches of the interior recalling Eric Gill’s pre-war church at Gorleston in Norfolk. The architect was Tom Price of F. R. Bates, Son & Price, the builder Robert Thomas of Cowbridge, and the herringbone parquet floor was laid by Horsley Smith of London, Mr Sheppard’s firm. The owners of the Blue Bell Inn donated the Stations of the Cross.
The sanctuary was reordered after Vatican II, with the replacement of the high altar by the present forward altar, given by the Sisters of Providence (Rosminians) of Heathfield House School in Cardiff.
The Rev. Dewi Davies was appointed parish priest in 1986, and during his tenure a Welsh Mass was started, the first in the Archdiocese; this continued until 1990. The congregation size continued to increase during the 1980s and in 1990-2 an extension at the west end was built at a cost of £140,000. During this work an original altar canopy with red brocade hangings was removed.
The church is served from Llantwit Major (qv).
The church is in a modern Arts and Crafts style, constructed of brick with a white painted roughcast render finish. The roofs are pitched with swept eaves and are covered with tiles. The plan consists of an aisleless nave with a south transept at the west end, a gabled south porch and a sanctuary at the east end under a lower roofline.
Inside, the nave has a scissor-braced roof and plastered walls. The sanctuary has tall, segmental arched windows to the north and south and a sacristy beyond. West of the nave is an extension leading to the south transept; this is partitioned off and serves as a parish hall. A stained glass window of St Cadoc at the west end was created by Michael Lassen and installed during the 1990-92 work. There are polychrome statues of the Sacred Heart and Our Lady, given by Mr and Mrs Muir and Mrs Kathleen Hinde.
Architect: F. R. Bates, Son & Price
Original Date: 1956
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed