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Church of St Mary Risca

A Grade II Listed Building in Risca, Caerphilly

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Latitude: 51.6142 / 51°36'51"N

Longitude: -3.1038 / 3°6'13"W

OS Eastings: 323668

OS Northings: 191177

OS Grid: ST236911

Mapcode National: GBR J1.9FZC

Mapcode Global: VH7B4.5P0D

Entry Name: Church of St Mary Risca

Listing Date: 22 October 1999

Last Amended: 22 October 1999

Grade: II

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 22514

Building Class: Religious, Ritual and Funerary

Location: Adjacent to the main thoroughfare, a little NW of the main centre, close to the railway and canal. Approached by paths through churchyard from W and SE. The churchyard contains a sriking group of m

County: Caerphilly

Community: Risca West (Gorllewin Rhisga)

Community: Risca

Built-Up Area: Risca

Traditional County: Monmouthshire

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Built 1852. Architect W G Habershon of London and Newport, builder B Farmer, cost c £1780. Site was originally occupied by a Roman building associated with the Second Legion stationed at Caerleon (Isca). Subsequently a post- Conquest church was erected from c1146, a daughter church of Bassaleg. In 1733 dedication was to St Peter, later to St Michael. In C17 village was spelled Ryseley, in C18 Rhysga. In mid C18 services were held in Welsh, by 1813 chiefly in Welsh. In 1839 Chartists marching to Newport passed the church, which was locked to shelter parishioners. Wealth from coal seams discovered on parish land and creation of separate parish of Risca led to decision to demolish old church and build anew. New dedication to St Mary the Virgin. One of the stone masons associated with the new church, John Walker, was responsible for the incorporation of some of the furnishings of the old church including some monuments and a bell. William Phillips, commemorated by a monument, kept the famous Risca pack of hounds, known to King George III. Links through parishioner Morgan Hall with Benjamin Hall, Lord Llanover, and Baron Tredegar to whom Morgan Hall was godfather. Weathercock made 1890 by William Hayes. Church formerly flanked by two inns, The Bell and The Yew Tree. Sunday School built opposite church. Parish retains an Elizabethan inscribed chalice of 1573.


Gothic Revival church comprises tall nave, lower chancel, N and S aisles, S porch and SE tower. Of tooled stone and ashlar with Welsh slate roof with ashlar coping, decorative kneelers and ballflower ornament at eaves. W front has a very steep gable with large 5-light W window with curvilinear tracery and face stops to hoodmould; sillband extends at right angles to join the flanking buttresses with offsets. Central steeply gabled W doorway has moulded pointed arched entrance with hoodmould, boarded doors with very decorative hinges; very deep stone-tiled battered plinth. To each side are the aisles with roofs at shallower pitch; 2-light W windows with cusped tracery; angle buttresses. S porch, 4 steps up, is also steeply gabled with similar arch, hoodmould, stops and doors; moulded kneelers, cruciform finial, side buttresses with deep offsets and paired side windows. On S side of nave are paired 2-light windows with trefoil tracery and foliage and face stops, ventilators below. Against wall at SW is an unusual marble monument in reliquary style of red and black marble to Evan Cross died 1885, his wife and many of their children, surrounded by a unusual mastiff-collar type iron railing with deep moulded kerb curving from SW of church to S wall of porch. The tall bell tower with spire is at SE, the junction of nave and chancel. 3 storeys, with substantial angle buttresses with offsets and thick stepped bases; ground floor has 2-light window with geometric tracery and deep splays and face stops to hood mould, narrow tower chamber light to first floor; above this is a deep tiled offset with angel figures at each corner in gargoyle position though not acting as water spouts; above is the narrower ringing chamber with 2-light louvred opening with geometric tracery. The broached spire has 4 steeply gabled louvred openings above the broach which is supported by beast corbels and surmounted by a weathercock. Lean-to priests' door at SE. E end has 4-light chancel window similar to W with similar stepped string course; narrow sanctuary windows. Flat roofed single storey vestry wing at NE. 3-light E window to N aisle with geometric tracery and 3 pairs of windows with cusped tracery to N aisle separated by buttresses with offsets.


Lofty interior is white painted. Nave is quite short with 3 bay pointed-arched moulded arcades to N and S, piers alternating octagonal and round. Arch-braced roof with canopywork in apex on collar. The 6 roof trusses are supported by large corbels which extend down into the spandrels of the arcade. Aisles also have large face corbels at wallplate level. Deeply carved stone and alabaster pulpit at NE of 1887, a Jubilee commemoration of the parish clergy. Very tall moulded pointed chancel arch with corbels supporting similar capitals, hood mould and face stops. Chancel also has a decorative roof in 4 bays, with a pierced wheel motif in truss apex. E end has wooden panelling and altar (C20) with carved stone reredos against the E window supporting 5 painted figures. To either side are tall painted stone and marble gilded Commandment tablets with very decorative Gothic canopies. C18 monuments from former church; brass altar rail also a Jubilee addition. Stained glass of C20.

Reasons for Listing

Listed as an important mid C19 Valleys' parish church on a historic site; group value with churchyard monuments and entrance gates.

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