St Illtyd’s Crescent, St Thomas, Dan-y-Graig, Swansea, SA1 8HS
A church built by the Benedictines in 1927, in a simplified Gothic style with nave, west tower and south aisle. A north aisle was added in the 1960s. The interior has simple round-arched nave arcades. With its short tower and corner site, the building has some townscape presence.
The district of St Thomas, a close grid of streets climbing Kilvey Hill, was traditionally a working class area closely associated with the docks. In 1883 the Benedictines from St David’s began to raise money for a school here, which was built in 1884 on land leased from Lord Jersey. Mass was said in the school from 1885 until 1913, when ‘owing to the requirements of the Board of Education as regards new furniture’ (The Tablet, 1913), it became necessary to provide a separate chapel. This was a red brick and roughcast building erected by Messrs Harrison of Camberwell, accommodating 200. It opened in December 1913 (a presbytery was built at the same time).
In 1926-7 Fr Dunstan Collingwood OSB built a new church and presbytery opposite the school, the church being opened by Archbishop Mostyn on 2 February 1927. The architect (James Hart of Otford, Sevenoaks in Kent) died in December 1926, before the work was finished. This church comprised the nave, south aisle and sanctuary of the present building.
The church remained in the care of the Benedictines until 1952, after which it passed to diocesan priests. The building was enlarged in 1963 by the addition of a north aisle, with a nave arcade replicating that on the south side. A Sacred Heart altar was erected on the north side, and two sacristies added on the south side. The architect was Thomas Price of F. R. Bates, Son & Price, who was also responsible for the alterations to the sanctuary in the 1970s.
The church is not orientated; the liturgical east end is to the west. All directions in the following description are liturgical. The building is in a simplified Gothic style. The plan comprises a northwest tower, nave with north and south aisles and a short sanctuary with a transeptal south side chapel. The west front and tower are of red brick, while the other external walls are faced with render. The roofs are of Welsh slate with red tile cresting. The gabled west elevation has a central doorway with a pointed arch between short buttresses. Above is a window of two quatrefoil lights with a full quatrefoil over. The small brick tower is square on plan with a bell stage of two recessed lights on each face. Set back to the left of this front is the brick end of the lean-to south aisle, which has five pairs of round-headed windows before the low transept. On the north side the nave roof is swept down as a catslide to the rendered outer wall of the later (1963) aisle, which has five pairs of small rectangular windows. The east end of the church with the apsidal ends of the sanctuary and southeast chapel closely abuts the presbytery and is not easily visible.
The interior has wood parquet floors, plain plastered walls and an open timber roof over the nave whose principal trusses have collars with curved braces brought down to stone corbels on the nave wall. The south arcade is of six bays of round arches on chamfered square piers, with a taller arch in the easternmost bay opening into the transept. The north arcade is similar but the piers are not chamfered. The west bay of both arcades is partly filled by a timber organ gallery which has been glazed beneath to provide a narthex. A moulded pointed arch at the east end opens into the sanctuary, with a second arched opening to the terminal apse, which is lined with varnished vertical boarding.
The fittings include a white marble altar given by Mrs Catherine Bishop; the original altar frontal depicting the Last Supper has been reset in the forward altar. There is a quantity of modern stained glass including a figure of the Virgin Mary by Colette Vidal in the north aisle (1990), two windows in the southeast chapel by Ann Marsh (2003) and a series of windows in the south aisle by Melanie Howse showing the six days of creation, mostly dating from 2002-4.
Architect: James Hart; F. R. Bates, Son & Price
Original Date: 1927
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed