Ashfield Road, Newbridge, NP11 4RB
A fine basilican/Arts and Crafts church built in 1939 from designs by P. D. Hepworth, a London architect who had studied in Paris and Rome, and was also clearly influenced by the churches of Giles Gilbert Scott. Construction was financed by Mrs Fflorens Roch of Llanover, a member of the Herbert family. The dramatic and beautifully detailed interior has undergone some reordering but retains most of its original features and decoration. Externally, the church forms a good group with the attached neo-Georgian presbytery, and the tall, square campanile is a local landmark.
The foundation stone for the church of Our Lady of Peace, Newbridge was laid by Archbishop Mostyn of Cardiff on 16 April 1939 and the church was opened on 10 December 1939 by Bishop-elect Hannon of Menevia (Archbishop Mostyn having died in October 1939). It was built from the designs of P. D. Hepworth, who had studied in Paris and Rome (the design followed metric rather than imperial dimensions). Mrs Fflorens Roch of Llanover provided all the funds for the construction. She was daughter of Ivor Herbert, 1st Baron Treowen and the last of the family to reside at Llanarth Court. The design and prominent hillside location of this unashamedly continental and Catholic church was a bold statement even in the mid-twentieth century, as the Ebbw valley was a nonconformist heartland. Given the date of construction, the dedication to Our Lady of Peace seems poignant. During the Second World War the church was repainted in camouflage colours as its prominent location and appearance made it a landmark for enemy bombers.
The church was consecrated in 1952. In the 1970s the original baldacchino was removed, and in the 1980s a further reordering saw the altar brought forward and the mensa reduced in size. The original pulpit was also removed and an entrance from the sacristy through the east wall of the sanctuary blocked. Around this time a high level heating system was installed and fixed to the roof timbers. In recent years a replacement ambo of limed oak has been installed.
The church is a fine basilican/Arts and Crafts design, showing the influence of the churches of Giles Gilbert Scott. The building and many of its furnishings are well described in the list entry (below), but the following points can be added:
Reference Number: 21499
Date of Designation: 17/03/1999
Date of Amendment: 17/03/1999
Name of Property: Church of Our Lady of Peace and attached Presbytery
Unitary Authority: Caerphilly
Street Side: E
Location: On the N edge of Newbridge, near the border with the Crumlin Community, on the W hillside of and overlooking the Ebbw Valley. Set on a walled terrace with gate piers and terraced steps, incorporating a small shrine.
History: Built late 1930s by P D Hepworth, an architect educated in Paris and Rome who worked in S Wales in 1930s (eg St David’s RC, Maesglas, Newport].
Exterior: The complex consists of a tall basilica style church aligned roughly N/S, the chancel facing S, with attached campanile style bell tower; attached at front is a small single storey wing housing the sacristy which in turn is attached to the Presbytery or Priest’s House. Built of brick, rendered and painted, with grey pantile roof with overhanging eaves. The 5-storey bell tower at SW has narrow dividing string courses, small staircase lights and a bell chamber with 4 round-arched openings with moulded surrounds giving views of the bells, each with a small wrought iron balcony with brackets; conical roof with metal cross. The lancet windows have deeply splayed sills and the roundels moulded surrounds. The church has 5 long narrow lights at clerestory level to nave; on E side the bays are separated at lower level by triangular buttresses, on W side the pitched roof aisle has roundel windows separated by pilasters. Roundels at clerestory level to chancel with lancets below and a large cross in the blank gable end. At N side, a small single storey 5 sided baptistry with small round-headed lights; above is a large round window with stepped surround and iron PX motif in apex. Attached to S is the single storey sacristy range with hipped roofs, round arched and roundel windows and separate round arched entrance. The attached presbytery in the same materials with grey brick stacks has a 4-window range of horned sashes with shutters and a central gabled porch; set on the hillside, the rear has an extra basement storey.
Interior: Interior is striking for its simplicity, rendered and mostly white painted, with colour to the roof panels. The unusual plan has an arcade and passage leading into the church from the side (W). The main body of the church is divided by a tall plain chancel arch. The nave is lit to side by plain tall round headed windows, to rear by a high roundel with similar roundels high on each side of the chancel; no window over the altar, but a crucifix set within a tall blind arch. The rear narthex and baptistry with small windows is divided off by a metal screen. Roof of 6 bays with trusses comprising a tie beam supported by brackets with centre post; all the members and the ceiling panels painted with stencil decoration; each bay has a pair of low hanging painted wrought iron light fittings. Floor of nave is wood, slate paving in sanctuary and baptistry. Sacristy has oak panelling.
Reason for designation: Listed II* as an early- mid C20 RC church of especially effective design and atmospheric interior in a commanding position.
Architect: P. D. Hepworth
Original Date: 1939
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Grade II*