Building » Hirwaun – St Therese of Lisieux

Hirwaun – St Therese of Lisieux

Station Road, Hirwaun, CF44 9TS

A Vatican II-era design by Thomas Price, showing advanced liturgical planning but clearly built on a budget. The site includes the burial ground and a few headstones of the nonconformist chapel formerly occupying the site.

The first Catholic Mass centre in Hirwaun was established in 1880 in what became known as the Mission Room, overlooking the local ironworks. This was a chapel-of-ease to St Joseph, Aberdare. A drawing by Peter Anson (probably 1930s) shows the chapel as a single-storey cottage with three gables. It remained in use until the opening of the present church, and was demolished in 1969.

The present church was built on the site of the Soar Welsh Wesleyan Chapel, which dated from 1889 (but replaced earlier chapels on the site), opposite the Church in Wales church of St Lleurwg. Thomas Price of F. R. Bates, Son & Price provided the designs for a building seating 240, which was opened by Archbishop Murphy of Cardiff on 25 May 1966. The contractors were Glyn Neath Plant Hire, whose directors were all parishioners. The church was built on modern liturgical lines and comprised a square worship space with lobbies, baptistery, Lady Chapel, choir, gallery, sacristies and guild room. An external cast iron crucifix fabricated in Hirwaun was presented by the parish of St Peter in Bargoed.

Today the church is part of the combined parish of Mary Immaculate, consisting of the churches at Mountain Ash, Aberdare and Hirwaun, and is served from Mountain Ash.


The church is largely square on plan with a large central monopitch roof and lower level monopitch roofs to the surrounding sacristies, lobbies and chapel, all with concrete pantile coverings. It is of steel framed construction, with rendered and painted brick infill panels. The main body is lit by a high level clerestory, and elsewhere by groups of tall slit windows. A cast iron crucifix is fixed to the external wall of the church. An adjacent hall with a shallow-pitched roof is a later addition.

Inside, a day chapel is located between the lobby and the main worship area, housing confessionals and an original reconstituted marble altar. The space is divided from the main worship area by a glazed screen which has a large and colourful applied modern stained glass panel on the theme of the Creation (in memory of Tom and Josie Lavin). The main worship area is square on plan with the layout set on the diagonal axis and the ceiling rising towards the sanctuary. The sanctuary has a terrazzo floor and a tabernacle on a timber ledge in the angle at the centre. The altar is centrally placed in front of this and is constructed of green reconstituted marble, with a central carved and painted slate panel decorated with wheat and grapes and PX symbol. A hardwood ambo is to the north and the font is to the south (moved from the original baptistery). The font is the standard Price design, circular and tapered, of grey reconstituted marble with a mosaic image of the Holy Dove on the front. To the south is a niche with a painted wooden statue of Our Lady. Around the sanctuary the seating is arranged in radiating blocks. At the back of the church, on axis with the sanctuary, is a small triangular-shaped gallery.

Heritage Details

Architect: F. R. Bates, Son & Price

Original Date: 1966

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed