Cliff Road, Old Colwyn, LL29 9RW
A small and unassuming church in the grounds of St Augustine’s Priory, owned and maintained by the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. The church was built in the 1950s, and is a fairly early design by Weightman & Bullen. Although of no special architectural interest, it has a calm and spiritual atmosphere and with the Priory buildings makes a contribution to the character and appearance of the Old Colwyn Conservation Area.
In the early 1930s a group of Sisters of the Order of St. Augustine took over a former hotel on Cliff Road and established a convent, known as St Augustine’s Priory. The Mother Superior allowed the handful of Catholics of the district to use the convent chapel as a chapel-of-ease. In 1939 the Augustinians left Old Colwyn and the convent was taken over by the Sisters of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Canon Quinn, who had served as chaplain to the Augustinians stayed on, allowing the convent chapel to continue to serve the Catholic community. A little later the adjoining property on the north side of the Priory was acquired by the Sisters and named St Mary’s House. During the war, many evacuees were accommodated in Old Colwyn, as well as personnel from the Ministry of Food, which meant that the chapel was filled to overflowing. When peace returned, the Sisters determined to build a church in thanksgiving to God and Our Lady of Quito for protecting them during the war. This was designed by Weightman & Bullen, and consecrated by John Petit, Bishop of Menevia on 1 May 1956.
With the opening of the new church, the number of parishioners increased, many of the evacuees having decided to stay on in the town, and a parish priest was appointed. Since then parts of the Priory have been used as a holiday home for nuns, a guest house and a residential care home. In 2010 it was adapted for use as a House of Prayer, and it is also frequently used for meetings by the Diocese of Wrexham and other denominations. The Sacred Heart is no longer a parish, and the church is the property of the Sisters of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
The church is located in the space between the Priory and St Mary’s House, with internal connections to both buildings. It is faced in red brick to match the older buildings, which both date from around 1900. The central doorway leads into the church which consists of a nave and sanctuary, with an organ gallery at the west end and a sacristy off the sanctuary. It seats approximately 100 people. Pairs of arched windows at high level along the side walls provide good lighting, and there is an arch separating the nave and sanctuary. A small rose window in the east wall has stained glass depicting the crucifixion with the figures of Our Lady, St John and Mary Magdalene. The white marble altar has a central motif of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and to the right is the Sisters’ chapel which is also spanned by an arch. The plastered interior is painted white throughout, and the church has a comfortingly simple and calm atmosphere.
Architect: Weightman & Bullen
Original Date: 1956
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed