Building » Maesteg – Our Lady and St Patrick

Maesteg – Our Lady and St Patrick

Monica Street, Maesteg, CF34 9AY

A well-detailed late Gothic Revival church on a raised site built by the Benedictines from designs by Pugin & Pugin. The church is little altered, and has good furnishings including three carved stone altars by Boulton of Cheltenham, two painted war memorials, the original oak pews and stained glass by Hardman and John Edwards.

In the 1840s large numbers of people escaping the Great Famine in Ireland arrived in South Wales. The nearest Catholic churches to Maesteg were in Cardiff and Swansea, so those living in the area had to walk considerable distances to attend Mass. Around 1852 a mission was established at Aberavon which also served Maesteg. Occasionally Mass was held in Maesteg in a private house and in the Three Horseshoes public house. Dom Edward Anselm Glassbrook OSB was appointed to the mission in 1858 and served until 1870. This was the start of a long association of the mission with the Benedictines.

From 1837-51 Edwin Wyndham-Quin, the Third Earl of Dunraven, as Baron Adare represented Glamorganshire in Parliament. He converted to Catholicism and upon his death in 1871, bequeathed a joint endowment of £2,400 to Bridgend and Maesteg and a legacy of £2,000 specifically for the construction of a church and school at Maesteg. The church, built by Dom William Price OSB and dedicated to Our Lady and St Patrick, opened on Ewenny Road on 3 November 1872.

In 1902 Dom Maurus Kelly OSB was appointed to the mission. Seeing that the church was no longer adequate for the increasing congregation and given that extension was not feasible, he purchased the present site from Mr James O’Brien for £9,300. This was occupied by a recently-constructed house, which became the presbytery. Plans for the church were drawn up by Cuthbert Welby Pugin of Pugin & Pugin. The foundation stone was laid by Bishop John Hedley of Newport and Menevia on 25 June 1906 and the building was formally blessed and opened by Bishop Hedley on 12 November 1907. The school followed in 1908-9. Major donors were Mr and Mrs J. Boyd-Harvey of Tondu House, Aberkenfig, whose gift included three stone altars by Boulton & Co. of Cheltenham. Early photographs of the interior show extensive painted decoration around the high altar and chancel arch. This may date from 1919, when (according to the 1957 parish history) the church was redecorated as a memorial to parishioners who fell in the Great War.

A World War One memorial in the form of a mural in the narthex was added in the 1920s, for the 31 men of the parish killed in action.

In 1952 the Benedictines left the parish, and it has since been served by secular priests of the Archdiocese of Cardiff. The sanctuary was reordered in 1972.

Description

Our Lady and St Patrick’s is late Gothic Revival in style consisting of a buttressed six bay aisleless nave with projecting northwest porch, polygonal southwest baptistery, a projecting sanctuary at the east end and a projecting sacristy at the southeast corner. The church is constructed of randomly coursed, rock-faced local granite with Bath stone dressings, the roof coverings are slate. The windows consist of paired and tripled lancets in the north and south walls, plate tracery at the west end and single lancets elsewhere. The main entrance has a segmental arch with quoins, a central canopied niche with cusping between the windows containing a statue of the Virgin and Child, and is surmounted by a gabled bellcote housing one bell. A ‘cloister’ connects the sacristy with the brick-built presbytery.

Inside, the porch leads into the narthex off which is the baptistery (now a piety stall and store), beside which is a stair to the gallery. The narthex is separated by a painted timber and glazed screen, a recent addition in keeping with the church. A fine wall painting of the pieta, created as a WWI memorial located by the narthex arch and partially obscured by the frame of the screen, is probably by Hardman. A painted WWII memorial with Celtic lettering and detail (mounted on board) is located opposite. The nave is a single volume with a scissor-braced roof and painted and plastered walls (there is no sign of the painted decoration shown in early photographs). The benches are oak and original to the church. The sacristy and confessional are through the south wall at the east end. The sanctuary is raised up two steps. The high altar was donated by Mr and Mrs Boyd Harvey and is made of Yorkshire limestone with pillars of Connemara marble, gradines of Malplaquet marble and superstructure of Canadian granite. The altar has been brought forward from the retable and reredos, which have elaborate carved canopies and statues of St Benedict and St David (to the left and right) and a central pinnacled and canopied Benediction throne over a brass tabernacle. There are similar altars dedicated to Our Lady and St Patrick to the north and south of the chancel arch; they have ornate carved foliage, canopies and statuary. All three altars are by R. L. Boulton & Sons of Cheltenham. The baptismal font is now located in front of the St Patrick altar; it is octagonal with a simple carved cross detail. Stained glass includes several modern windows by John Edwards and Hardman & Co.

Heritage Details

Architect: Pugin & Pugin

Original Date: 1907

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed