Raven Street, Welshpool, SY21 7LR
Built in 1963, the church of St Winefride is a distinctive building on a hilltop site with a steeply pitched roof, simple geometric form and a sympathetic palette of materials. Its quirky and attractive interior is distinguished by high quality fixtures and furnishings.
A small Catholic school opened on the side of the hill overlooking Welshpool in the 1860s also served as a chapel. Nearly 100 years later the building had become dilapidated and the parish priest Fr Anthony Earle decided that the time had come for a replacement. After much effort funds were secured from the local Catholic community and from further afield, including Ireland, Australia and the United States. Land was secured on the hilltop and the architects Weightman & Bullen drew up plans for the new church, which was opened by the Bishop of Menevia on 25 August 1963. In recent years the parish has been amalgamated with those of Newtown and Llanidloes, and now covers a large rural area.
Although the church is a small building, when first seen from the approach road into the town it makes a striking impression. This is due to its simple geometric form and its extraordinarily steep pitched roof. In front of the west gable, which faces the road, is a low flat-roofed projection, which is fully glazed and serves as an entrance lobby and repository. Behind the central glass doors the brick gable end wall is split by a vertical window that rises up to the apex of the steep roof. The interior also comes as a surprise, for the roof is supported on four arched timber trusses that curve at the elbow between the wall and the roof like the crucks of a medieval barn, except that in this case the crucks are constructed of laminated pine, not oak. The side walls are fair-faced brick and the roof is boarded, giving a warm and welcoming character that is complemented by the deep red painted plaster of the east wall. At the west end is a gallery with seating, reached by a spiral staircase. The altar is of white marble, the font is of stone with incised and gilded lettering and the pews are of oak. High above the tabernacle in the west wall is a diamond shaped window with dalle de verre stained glass of an angel made by Dom Charles Norris of Buckfast Abbey. More of Norris’s glass is in the baptistery alongside the sanctuary.
Architect: Weightman & Bullen
Original Date: 1963
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed