Castle Street, Newcastle Emlyn, SA38 9AF
Opened in 1966, this is a simple and effective design by a well-known firm of Catholic church architects, providing the effect of ‘noble simplicity’ desired for new churches at the time of the Second Vatican Council. The church has a lofty interior, with powerful and expressive stained glass by Frank Roper. It lies within the Newcastle Emlyn Conservation Area, close to the castle ruins, a factor which might have influenced its slightly fortified appearance. However the townscape value of the church has suffered from the loss of the original bell tower.
Newcastle Emlyn was originally included in the parish of Cardigan and the first Mass was said from there in 1952. A site near the castle was purchased in 1956 and two conjoined wooden huts were erected to serve as a church and small presbytery for Fr Raymond Joyce, then a curate at Cardigan. A separate parish was erected in 1960, with Fr Joyce as parish priest. The new parish was mainly agricultural, extending to 400 square miles, and was a nonconformist stronghold; the total number of Catholics in the parish was said to be 235, mainly agricultural workers from overseas (parish website). The architects Weightman & Bullen of Liverpool, who held a semi-official status as diocesan architects, were approached to prepare plans for a new church in 1962 but nothing was done for lack of funds, although a cottage in the town was purchased for use as a presbytery.
In 1965 the architects were recommissioned and the present church was built in 1966, to a longitudinal plan and capable of seating 100. About a third of the £18,000 cost of the new church was met by Dr Constance Myatt of Birmingham, who stipulated that the dedication should be to Our Lady Queen of Peace. As first built, the church had a brick bell tower above the baptistery in the centre of the (liturgical) west front. This was later taken down, perhaps in the early 1990s when the present Calvary was set up in the same place. In 1970-71 and 1973 the church was furnished with stained glass by the sculptor/stained glass artist Frank Roper.
A parish hall was built in 1972-3, and the church was consecrated in 1977. Today it is once again served from Cardigan.
The church is not orientated; the liturgical east end faces to the north. In the following description all directions are liturgical.
The external walls are of loadbearing red brick laid in stretcher bond. The main body of the church has a flat roof and is rectangular on plan; it is linked by a low flat-roofed glazed entrance lobby to a small brick forebuilding containing baptistery and WCs and has small sacristies at the east end. The western forebuilding is low and windowless and is surmounted by a Calvary erected in the early 1990s. The entrance lobby behind the forebuilding has been extended to link with the parish hall. The main body of the church is the same height throughout. In the centre of the west wall is a tall rectangular window. The side walls rise sheer to a plain stone coping and have five full-height window embrasures on each side, a stretch of plain walling with low flat-roofed sacristies and a further embrasure to the sanctuary beyond. The east wall is blind.
Internally the church has a plain tiled floor, barefaced red brick walls laid in English bond and a flat trabeated ceiling with a skylight above the sanctuary. The sanctuary is a single raised step paved in red and blue tiles. The windows are all clear glazed but have a central band of fourteen stained glass panels by Frank Roper of Penarth, which serve as the Stations of the Cross. They have figures in raised metal leading set against brightly-coloured glass backgrounds and were installed in 1970-71. A further window by Roper, depicting the Resurrection, was added in the forebuilding in 1973. Of the other furnishings, the altar and tabernacle column appear to be of slate (an early photograph on the parish website shows the tabernacle set in a recess with projecting surround, which may survive behind the current curtain); the timber benches and the pendant light fittings appear to be original.
Architect: Weightman & Bullen
Original Date: 1966
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed