Building » Hay-on-Wye – St Joseph

Hay-on-Wye – St Joseph

Belmont Road, Hay-on-Wye, HR3 5DA

A small former Methodist chapel in the Gothic style, built in 1872 and purchased and adapted for Catholic use in 1968. The somewhat quirky exterior is relatively little altered, and makes a positive contribution to the character of the conservation area. Inside, the original curved roof remains but the arrangements at the east end and furnishings all appear to date from the 1960s or later.

In the early twentieth century Mass was said in the house of a Mr Grant in Castle Street, by visiting priests from Brecon or Benedictines from Belmont, until 1926 when a room over the Cheese Market was hired. In the 1950s the parishioners began to raise money for the building of a new church and acquired a site with an existing house to serve as a presbytery. A resident priest was appointed in about 1960. Evidently the proposal for a new church did not progress and in 1968 an existing chapel in Belmont Road was purchased. This was originally a Calvinistic Methodist chapel, built in 1872-3 at a cost of £700 to replace an earlier chapel of 1829 on the same site. Some internal alterations were made after acquisition, for which the architects may have been F. R. Bates, Son & Price of Newport (the abstract coloured window glazing is typical of their work). The refurbished building was dedicated to St Joseph. An interwar house adjoining the chapel was acquired for use as a presbytery.


The church is not orientated; the liturgical east end faces towards the west. This description uses liturgical directions. The building is in a free version of thirteenth century Gothic style. It is rectangular on plan. The walls are of local stone with dressings and window surrounds of ashlar. The front wall is of rock-face stone in squared blocks of varying size laid to courses. The side walls are of random stone with strap pointing. The pitched roof is covered in Welsh slate. The gabled main front has a central pointed window of three simply moulded lights with three hexagons in the tracery. To the left is a single pointed window with a straight head to the main light and a hexagon in the tracery. The wall on this side terminates with a stepped buttress carried up into a pinnacle. The right hand angle of the front is clasped by a small tower containing the pointed main entrance door, with a bell stage above which tapers to a square cap with a bold corbel table (it looks like a spire was intended, or was built and has been lost). The side walls both have four single-light windows with simple pointed heads and modern glazing. The rear wall is blind and of rough stonework with a large central buttress. There are clear signs of alteration in this wall, including the stone lintel of a former opening, now blocked.

The interior is a single space with plain plastered walls rising to a moulded cornice and a curved boarded ceiling with transverse moulded timber ribs carried down onto corbels at the side. Across the east end is a modern full-height partition with a central recess for the sanctuary. No original Methodist furnishings survive; the church appears to have been completely refitted in 1968 with a simple stone altar and tabernacle and modern timber benches. The windows are filled with coloured glass in bold abstract patterns.

Heritage Details

Architect: Not established

Original Date: 1872

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed