Ham Lane East, Llantwit Major, CF61 1TQ
A functional Vatican-II era design by Thomas Price, largely square on plan and somewhat altered, but retaining a dramatic top-lit internal space.
In the early twentieth century the small number of Catholics in and around Llantwit Major would travel to Bridgend or Barry to attend Mass, until the church of St Vincent de Paul opened at Rhoose in 1919. Two years later (in May 1921) the first official public Mass was celebrated in Llantwit Major at Ham House. This had been acquired by Lewis Turnbull, a local Catholic, from the Nicholl family, major donors of St Mary’s, Bridgend (qv). Archbishop Mostyn agreed to the establishment of a chapel at the house; known as ‘The Ham’, this became the local Mass centre until Turnbull’s death in 1931, the last Mass being his requiem.
During World War II Mass was said at the St Athan RAF base and from 1941-48 in a room beneath the Town Hall. In 1950 an acre of land at Ham Lane East was given by Mr Gerald Turnbull and a corrugated iron building in use for the previous sixty years in Herefordshire was erected as a temporary chapel; the first Mass was held in November 1950. The Rev. H. B. Morris established the presbytery before his departure in 1962. In December 1963 Archbishop John Murphy of Cardiff was approached for permission to build a new church, the old chapel being too small for the regular congregation; he agreed and provided the finance. Building started in September 1964 and the new building was solemnly blessed and opened by Archbishop Murphy on 22 March 1966. The architect was Thomas Price of Bates, Son & Price of Newport, the contractor C. Williams of Newport.
The church and hall were renovated in 2007 with a new monopitch entrance created between the two (architects Judith and Gabrielle Williams of Petersen Williams).
The church is a modern, low structure with a later attached hall to the south and an entrance porch of yellow brick with a monopitch roof connecting the two. It is constructed of brick with a rendered finish, the roof is flat with angled skylights, the hall roof is pitched, the roof coverings are felt and zinc sheeting. The windows have powder-coated frames and are double-glazed.
Inside, the main entrance porch is small and leads into the rear of the main worship space. A confessional is in the southwest corner, while in the northwest corner a former baptistery is now used as a Lady Chapel. The main worship space is dramatically lit from above by skylights; the space is aisled with the sanctuary to the east end, raised up two steps. The floor is carpeted, apart from quarry tiles in the porch and terrazzo in the sanctuary. The altar is constructed of squared granite blocks with a carved cross and ship detail and single slab of granite for the mensa. The celebrant has an oak Eisteddfod-type chair; the ambo and font are also of oak.
Architect: F. R. Bates, Son & Price
Original Date: 1965
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed