Chester Street, St Asaph, LL17 0RE
An unusual building created by demolishing the roof and upper parts of the external walls of the previous mid-nineteenth century church and creating a replacement of more modest height and scale. While some elements of the old church remain, the resulting building lacks architectural coherence, its skilfully lit and tranquil interior being its principal merit.
In 1854 a Catholic church was built by the Jesuits in St Asaph in the Gothic Revival style. In the 1970s the building was found to have structural problems, notably spreading of the nave walls due to roof loading and associated water ingress leading to dry rot. A detailed structural survey showed that repair costs would be prohibitive, however the parish priest was keen to retain some part of the building. The solution developed by the architects Bowen Dann Davies was to remove the roof, demolish the external walls to a height of eight feet and to introduce an independent framed structure over the existing building supporting a new roof. This resulted in retaining the church and hall at a considerably lower cost than providing a new building due to the retention of walls, foundations, floor slab and some floor finishes. Various features, including stained glass windows, sanctuary furnishings and light fittings, were incorporated into the remodelled church. The parishioners themselves were responsible for painting and for refurbishment of the fixtures and fittings. The construction cost was £42,000.
The building retains the footprint and the lower walls of the old church and hall, although the nave was reduced in length to create a sacristy behind the sanctuary. A space for the choir, now used as a Lady Chapel, was provided on the north side of the sanctuary. The entrance porch leads into both the church and the hall. Along the north side the roof sweeps down in an irregular pattern, coming very low to the ground, while at ridge level a roof lantern on the south side throws light down into the sanctuary. The original brick walls are roughcast rendered and painted white, and the roof is concrete tiled. The steel frame that supports the roof is deliberately expressed internally, while the walls are plastered and painted white. The west gable wall and window is retained from the old church, and other survivals include stained glass, encaustic floor tiles and furniture. The floor is laid with timber blocks and the altar is cast in concrete.
Architect: Bowen Dann Davies
Original Date: 1979
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed