Wrexham Road, Overton, Wrexham, LL13 0DY
The church stands in a picturesque location on the edge of Overton village with views over the adjoining fields. It was erected in 1958 with a prefabricated structural frame, clad in brick and timber. It is a modest but attractive building with a light and airy interior. Behind the rustic altar is an interesting triptych of Our Lady Help of Christians flanked by scenes from the life of St Richard Gwyn.
Prior to construction of the church at Overton, Mass was said by a travelling priest in the house of a local Catholic. Increasing numbers meant there was insufficient room in the house, and in 1953 a caravan ‘chapel’ which had been used for the diocesan travelling mission was offered to the Catholics of Overton as a semi-permanent chapel, a site for which had been found on Salop Road. Mass attendance by then had reached nearly 100 and Canon (later Mgr) Philip Webb of St Mary’s Wrexham, was put in charge. He led fundraising for a permanent church, which resulted in the current building, designed by A.G. Bullen of Weightman & Bullen. It was opened by Bishop Petit of Menevia on 5 October 1958. The church was built to seat 150 people and the cost was £5,928. It was originally designed to serve as both a place of worship and church hall. This was made possible by sliding curtains that fitted across the sanctuary opening. In the 1980s a separate hall was erected at the rear and the curtains were removed. A presbytery was added sometime after the church was built; it is now leased, and the church is served from St Anne’s, Wrexham.
The main body of the church has a prefabricated structure of laminated timber arched trusses on the ‘Lanner Preform’ system, which spring from the floor level and meet at the roof ridge in the manner of crucks. The walls are clad in pale coloured rustic bricks and the pitched roof is of grey concrete tiles. The sanctuary, sacristy, kitchen and entrance lobby are flat-roofed projections clad in dark stained hardwood. Large timber windows in the west and side walls provide good lighting. The focus is the small sanctuary, dominated by the rustic York stone altar. To each side are coloured limewood statues of Our Lady and St Joseph, carved in Italy, and above the tabernacle is a painted triptych of Our Lady Help of Christians with side panels showing St Richard Gwyn as a schoolteacher teaching in Overton during the penal times and his martyrdom. The triptych is by Robin McGhie (1922-2012) and is one of the best works by this artist, who made designs for furniture and textiles as well as paintings and murals for a number of Catholic churches in the North West of England and Wales. On the front facade of the church is a papal crest by the sculptor Herbert Tyson Smith, in reconstructed stone.
Architect: Weightman & Bullen
Original Date: 1958
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed