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Christ Church

A Grade II Listed Building in Ebbw Vale, Blaenau Gwent

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.7722 / 51°46'19"N

Longitude: -3.2065 / 3°12'23"W

OS Eastings: 316849

OS Northings: 208858

OS Grid: SO168088

Mapcode National: GBR YX.ZK8K

Mapcode Global: VH6CV.CQQ9

Entry Name: Christ Church

Listing Date: 29 October 1999

Last Amended: 29 October 1999

Grade: II

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 22524

Building Class: Religious, Ritual and Funerary

Location: Prominently sited on E side of Church Street, the spire dominating the town.

County: Blaenau Gwent

Community: Ebbw Vale South (De Glynebwy)

Community: Ebbw Vale

Built-Up Area: Ebbw Vale

Traditional County: Monmouthshire

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Ebbw Vale

History

Large church built 1860-61 by the Ebbw Vale Iron Company, to the designs of John Norton of London, architect, to serve the growing ironworks town. By 1841, the population of Ebbw Vale was 9000, but there was no Anglican place of worship closer than St John, Newchurch, built 1846 for Crawshay Bailey. Anglican services were held in the unconsecrated Waun-y-pound school at Tredegar, built c. 1790 for the Sirhowy Ironworks. By 1860, Ebbw Vale consisted of two main areas, Newtown, and Briery Hill. The Company decided to build a church at Briery Hill, termed the ‘bloody spot’ as it contained 25 public houses. The Company provided a large plot, and paid for the majority of the building work. It was originally intended to construct the floor, roof and spire completely of iron, but these plans had to be abandoned. The foundations were dug in 1858, the church opened 8th December 1861 by the Bishop of Llandaff. Typically of the date, the church contained a baptismal pool to attract worshippers with Baptist backgrounds. Only the lower stage of the tower had been built: this was completed, with spire, to the original plans by Kempson and Fowler in 1891. Vestries added to E of tower 1911-12 by G.E. Halliday. Rood screen and reredos added after 1917 to a scheme designed 1914 by Harold Brakspear.

Exterior

Construction of red Risca sandstone, with grey Forest stone, and Bathstone for the window heads. Slate roofs. Plan consists of nave with lean-to aisles, lower apsidal chancel, W porch, and massive SW tower and spire. Early English style. Four-stage tower with tall slated spire. Ground floor of tower has W triplet and S doorway of four moulded orders, the inner two dying into the impost. Loops to first floor of tower; lancets above. Tall belfry stage. Arched triple-shafted two-light belfry windows with timber louvres; trefoiled lights with cusped foil above. Each window is set within slightly canted wall, with cylindrical angle turrets on spurred bases bearing conical slated caps each side of gabled clock face. Single storey addition to E side of tower. W end of nave has steeply gabled porch on paired polished shafts. Two-order doorway with polished shafts; hoodmould on large head-stops. Paired tall windows above (two-light with spurred quatrefoil); large wheel window to gable. Two stage buttresses flanking W end of nave. Two-light plate traceried windows to W end of each aisle. Similar windows to buttressed five-bay side elevations of aisles: circular cinquefoiled clerestory windows. At NE corner of N aisle is a broad circular corner turret with octagonal upper stage having open arcading and sprocketted candlesnuffer spirelet. Chancel is slightly lower with canted E end, set on high basement on sloping ground. Tall buttresses at angles, between very tall two-light windows with Geometric tracery. Plate-traceried windows to basement.

Interior

Five bay arcades, double-chamfered arches on circular piers, treated with pitch to emulate polished granite. Moulded caps. Moulded chancel arch on triple corbel shafts. Nave roof with paired arch-braces on moulded stone corbels. Painted boarded roof in chancel. Open pews of 1861. Bathstone polygonal pulpit with polished pink marble angle colonettes; carved symbols of the Evangelists within quatrefoils. Polygonal font. Both probably by Norton. Heavy oak chancel screen designed 1914 by Brakspear. Open arched bays with flowing carved tracery, coved loft with fan tracery; panelled loft with fretwork panels. Rood beam above with elaborate crucifix. Oak choirstalls of similar date, matching communion rail of 1922, probably also designed by Brakspear. Of the same scheme, the carved oak reredos of 1917, depicting the Last Supper. Tall dado of ashlar to sanctuary, with blind traceried panels. In angles of apse are crocketted niches containing carved saints. Painted frieze at impost level with simple monograms. Immersion pool under floorboards at W end. Stained E windows of c. 1861 (Apostles) by O’Connor. W wheel window, 1816 by Powell & Co. (patternwork) W windows (saints) of 1953 by Celtic Studios. Several other signed C20 windows, including N aisle NE (1968; music makers by Celtic Studios) and in the S aisle, Holy Family and Simeon, 1929 by W. Morris & Co., Westminster.

Reasons for Listing

Listed as a well-designed and prominent Anglican church, by one of the leading church architects of the later C19. The massive scale of the well-preserved church is testimony to the growth and influence of its patron, the Ebbw Vale Iron Company.

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