Hill Street, Rhymney, NP22 5JD
An early post-Vatican II church and hall by Tom Price of F. R. Bates, Son & Price, with a fan-shaped seating arrangement. The building is structurally altered but retains some original furnishings as well as items re-used from the previous (1861) church.
In 1827 Rev. Mgr. Peter Collingridge, Vicar Apostolic of the Western District, sent a young Irish priest, the Rev. Patrick Portal, to the mission at Merthyr. Ministering in the Rhymney area to the poor families of this mining community, Fr Portal hired a club room each Sunday for Mass and remained in the area until his death in 1835.
A church, school and priests’ house were built by the Benedictine Dom Athanasius Clarkson in 1861. The church was dedicated to St John the Evangelist and was opened by Bishop Brown of Newport and Menevia. Reporting the opening on 9 August 1861, The Cardiff Times described the church as: ‘twenty-four feet in height, fifty-six in length, and thirty-two wide, and constructed to contain about 400 persons with seats, beside other accommodation. On the one side is the clergyman’s residence, to which the Rev. Mr. Dawson has removed from Tredegar. On the other are spacious schools […] The architect is J. Trump, Esq., and the contractor Mr Taylor, Tredegar’. The mission was looked after by the Benedictines until 1885, when it was handed over to secular clergy.
By the 1960s it was evident the old church would have to be demolished due to damage caused by mining subsidence. A new church was constructed and opened in 1965; Tom Price of F. R. Bates, Son & Price designed it and the cost was £15,000. Located on a site adjacent to the previous church, the new building was constructed on a concrete raft to counter the threat of subsidence. A presbytery was constructed on the site of the old church, also on a concrete raft. The church was the first in the archdiocese to be designed on a radiating seating plan, with the benches converging around a sanctuary placed in the corner. Furnishings included Stations of the Cross carved in seasoned oak by David John.
Today the parish is combined with Tredegar and Ebbw Vale and served from Tredegar; the presbytery is let.
The church is a low-lying concrete framed building with walls of rendered blockwork and sections faced with buff brick. The roof is a low pyramid with tile coverings (the roof was originally in two stages, with high-level clerestory windows, these have since been removed and replaced with a continuous pitch). The lower windows have slate sills, and the entrance is at the corner.
Inside, a porch leads to the nave (right) and a parish room/small hall (straight ahead) with kitchen and WCs. In the porch is a plaster statue of St John the Evangelist. Within the main worship area, the floor covering is carpet and ceramic tiles with a herringbone pattern. Two walls of the sanctuary and main worship area have been covered with full-height oak veneered panelling. The font is located close to the entrance; it is conical and constructed of black terrazzo with a hardwood lid and an applied mosaic of the Holy Dove descending. Beside it is a small stained glass panel of the Sacred Heart, formerly in the old church. Beyond the font is the sacristy. The sanctuary is in the opposite corner and the seating is arranged in a radiating pattern on three sides. The sanctuary is up one step; the original painted steel and hardwood communion rail remains in situ. The altar is up a further step, and is constructed of granite with a single large block and overhanging mensa; attached to the front is a modern ceramic relief of Christ with the Gospels. The brass tabernacle is set on a new oak veneered plinth, above is a large copy of the San Damiano cross. There is a pair of matching hardwood ambos and plaster statues of the Sacred Heart, and the Madonna and Child with metal coronets. The Stations of the Cross are modern plaster quatrefoil reliefs (there is no sign of the Stations supplied by David John).
Architect: F. R. Bates, Son & Price
Original Date: 1965
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed