Victoria Road, Llandrindod Wells, LD1 6AP
A thoughtful modern design by a well-known firm of church architects, its unusual plan of two naves designed to reflect seasonal variations in use.
There was no Catholic mission in Llandrindod (meaning: ‘Trinity church’) until 1907, when Bishop Mostyn invited the Jesuits of St Bueno’s college near St Asaph to provide a priest for a newly-erected mission house with a chapel on the first floor. Fr Kane SJ was the first priest. Llandrindod was to be the only Jesuit foundation in central Wales; the Jesuits subsequently handed over the administration of the parish to the Diocese of Menevia.
The chapel in the mission house/presbytery served for over sixty years. In the early 1960s plans were developed by Fr (Canon) Albert Barling, a former Benedictine of Caldey Island who had become a secular priest, for a new church on a new site; this was of basilican type with an atrium and a crypt. Nothing came of these plans, and in 1970-71 Fr Barling built a more modest church of modern form next to the old mission house/presbytery. £15,000 towards the cost was donated by Bishop Petit, who consecrated the completed church on 2 July 1971. The architects were the well-known firm of Weightman & Bullen. The entrance to the new church was set between a baptistery and a crying room. The main body of the building comprised a nave which widened slightly at the east end to allow the placing of seating around three sides of the sanctuary, which was divided by folding doors from a western ‘summer nave’ providing extra seating capacity during the holiday season. Fr Barling was a keen musician, and obtained and had rebuilt for the new church a historic organ from a Methodist church at Dudley, Staffordshire.
A new presbytery was built close to the church in 1997 (architect Ruth Reade).
The building is not orientated; the liturgical east end is to the north. All directions in the following description are liturgical.
The church is designed in a modern style with walls of buff-coloured brick laid in stretcher bond and roof coverings of aluminium. In outline, the plan comprises two conjoined rectangles: the summer nave to the west and the wider main nave and sanctuary to the east. At the west end the glazed gable end of the summer nave is set back between two bold brick pylons with offset sloping roofs. The side elevation of the summer nave has four full-height embrasures with tall timber mullioned windows to each. The main nave has three similar embrasures, of which the westernmost has an entrance door with a cantilevered concrete canopy. Both naves have pitched roofs. The main nave roof is higher, with a raised sloping skylight at the eastern end over the altar which terminates in a tall brick campanile-like feature (no sign of a bell but there might be a chimney) carrying a Celtic cross.
The main internal space has a woodblock floor, barefaced grey brick walls and boarded ceilings. The southern half of the summer nave is now occupied by a timber enclosure which is presumably not part of the original design. Full-width folding doors separate the summer nave from the main nave. The triangular space above the folding doors is fully glazed and the change in level to the higher roof over the main nave allows for an east-facing strip clerestory window between the two roof levels. The sanctuary is defined by a green marble dais with a forward altar and tabernacle set against the blind brick east wall.
The furnishings include a William Hill chamber organ of 1823 or 1832 made for the Methodist church at Dudley and acquired and rebuilt for Llandrindod by Fr Barling (further information here); four panels of figurative stained glass in the west window and a timber Gothic altar and reredos set against the south wall facing the sanctuary to form a Lady Chapel. These may have come from the previous church.
Architect: Weightman & Bullen
Original Date: 1971
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed