Chestnut Way, Gurnos, CF47 9SB
A complex of church and presbytery built in the 1970s from designs by
F. R. Bates, Son & Price to serve a large post-war estate. The interior is an attractive space with some good detailing, retaining many of its original furnishings. A hall was added in 2000.
Gurnos lies a mile to the north of the centre of Merthyr Tydfil. Originally farmland with a few scattered cottages and woodland, the area retained its rural character in spite of the development of limestone quarries from the late eighteenth century. In the early twentieth century the Gurnos Farm estate was owned by Lord Buckland; ownership was transferred in the 1920, but the land continued to be farmed until the 1950s. Development of the Gurnos Estate for housing began in the early 1950s and accelerated in the 1970s, making it one of the largest estates in Europe (Old Merthyr Tydfil website). It was during the 1970s expansion that plans were made to build a Catholic church. F. R. Bates, Son & Price were appointed, and construction took place in 1976. The complex comprised a church and presbytery as one structure. Early plans appear to indicate a tall vertical element, presumably a bell tower, which was not realised. The church was dedicated to St Aloysius Gonzaga, a seventeenth century Jesuit.
In 2000 a parish hall was added to the north. Today St Aloysius forms one of the four churches in the parish of Merthyr Tydfil and is served from St Mary’s. A community of Sisters, the Missionaries of Charity, live and work in the parish.
The church, presbytery and later hall form a group of two-storey or double height structures with monopitch roofs, with attached and linking single-storey flat-roofed elements. The pitched roof have concrete pantiles, the flat roofs are felted and the walls are faced with yellow brick. The entrance is in a low projection on the north side, with lettering and crosses above. The presbytery lies to the west and hall (of lighter brick) to the east. Above the hall rises the north face of the church, with high-level glazing and a deep white fascia. Single-storey flat-roofed sacristies attach to the east end, leading round to the canted walls of a day chapel. The south side has tall slit windows with heavy painted concrete frames.
The entrance porch and a glazed screen lead to the main worship area. This is a light, wide space, with a dramatic monopitch roof slope and lit by high-level windows on the north side and narrow strip lights on the south. The internal walls are faced with bare brick, the floor coverings are slate or carpeted. By the sanctuary in the southeast a Blessed Sacrament or day chapel is reached through a low archway, with a mosaic of adoring angels, the Holy Dove, and inscriptions above. The chapel floor is of hardwood herringbone parquet. The sacristies lie behind the sanctuary, and are reached from the day chapel or the north side of the sanctuary.
Amongst the furnishings, the stone altar has carved and painted fish and Eucharist detail. Behind it, a crucifix is placed against the east wall. The altar in the Blessed Sacrament chapel is circular, on a thin cylindrical hardwood base. Behind it is a silvered tabernacle on a reconstituted marble plinth. There is coloured glass in the entrance area and in the high-level windows of the main worship space. The Stations of the Cross are striking wooden reliefs on a red textile background.
Architect: F. R. Bates, Son & Price
Original Date: 1976
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed