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Latitude: 51.7213 / 51°43'16"N
Longitude: -3.8506 / 3°51'2"W
OS Eastings: 272268
OS Northings: 204133
OS Grid: SN722041
Mapcode National: GBR H1.2L6H
Mapcode Global: VH4JS.6ZQT
Entry Name: Church of Saint Peter
Listing Date: 13 March 2003
Last Amended: 13 March 2003
Source ID: 80986
Building Class: Religious, Ritual and Funerary
Location: Situated on the S side of the High Street in a prominent position.
County: Neath Port Talbot
Built-Up Area: Pontardawe
Traditional County: Glamorgan
Anglican parish church of 1858-60 by J. H. Bayliss of Swansea, built at the expense of William Parsons, colliery and tinplate-works owner. Builder was J. Holtham and the cost nearly £20,000 (Kelly), £5,607 (church leaflet) or £5,557 (local history). Mid C14 Decorated Gothic style of unusual elaboration, of both moulded and carved work. Consecrated 31/7/1862, organ given by Arthur Gilbertson in 1864, by Vowles of Bristol, chancel fittings 1894 including reredos, floor, E window, choir stalls, sedilia and screen and new angel font, tower screen 1920. Called the Cathedral of the Swansea valley, it dominates the town, the extraordinary tower and spire of over 60m designed to overtop the chimneys of Parsons'factory.
Anglican parish church, local sandstone squared rubble with Bath stone dressings and red plain tiles to roofs (banded tones on chancel and organ chamber). Nave, aisles, chancel, S organ chamber and W tower with broach spire of over 60m overall. Coped gables with shoulders, ornately traceried windows with stone voussoirs over.
Tower is relatively narrow but has ornately-carved ashlar clasping octagonal buttresses at W angles up to base of fourth stage, bell-stage, which has quoins, ashlar battlements with corner angels and very tall recessed octagonal broached spire with finial and iron fleur-de-lys vane. Stages are divided by moulded strings. Tall lowest stage has heavy projecting plinth broken forward at angles, moulded pointed doors N and S with ashlar gabled surrounds, hoodmoulds and carved head stops (green man stop to N door left), large traceried 4-light W window with hood and carved head stops. Doors have cover strips and iron strap hinges. Narrow second stage has 2 cusped single lights with hoods on N and W and one similar on S. Tall third stage is without openings. Narrow bell-stage has ornate traceried pointed 3-light openings with hood and carved stops. Heavy sill course below, and string course above, leaving narrow band below battlements. Ashlar angle features begin square at plinth, with ashlar chamfering, then broached to octagonal with chamfered moulding at impost level of W window, then blind niche with big crocketted canopy on each W face and each outer face, with crouching beasts. Second stage also octagonal has string carried around from hoodmoulds of windows and then fierce carved dragons or monsters at angles looking down, at base of section chamfered back to third stage base of cluster of narrow crocketted gabled niches. In N angle between nave and tower is ashlar insert repeating details of front ashlar features, but only on one diagonal face, and stopped at base of third stage. In S angle is ashlar stair tower with quartefoil roundel lights in SW face, and sloping ashlar cap at bell-stage level.
Nave has paired dragons to W gable shoulders, 5 bays with curved-sided triangle clerestorey windows, cusped, and large 3-light pointed traceried aisle windows, 5 each side, one to aisle ends. Plinth, diagonal corner buttresses to aisles and side buttresses (2 to N, 3 to S). String course at W end and on buttresses. S aisle fifth window has hoodmould with head stops, ashlar battlemented low gable and buttress to left is carried up to a gabled top. Chancel N has 3 long pointed 2-light windows with dwarf buttresses between. E end has diagonal buttresses in 2 stages, green man corbel SE, and very large pointed 5-light window with hoodmould and head stops. Chancel S has one narrow 3-light with hoodmould and carved head stops, and large parallel-roofed organ chamber. Organ chamber has ashlar 2-stage octagonal stair turret at SW corner with battlemented top, narrow lancets to cardinal faces of top stage, pointed door to ground floor W and quatrefoil stair lights SW and SE. Steep roof with coped gables, S side pointed door with gable and carved angel stops, and segmental-pointed 3-light window to right, and 2 first floor sexfoil roundels above. E end has similar 3-light and cinquefoil roundel in gable.
Unpainted rendered walls and extensive ashlar dressings and much carved work. Tower entry has timber ceiling with large ribs on pierced timber brackets from fine carved crouching beast corbels. Ribs have applied leaf carving as on nave roof trusses. Pointed doors N and S with moulded arches and hoods with very large carved head stops. Small S door to tower stair.
Nave has 5-bay arcades of octofoil-section piers with keels to diagonal shafts, naturalistic leaf-capitals, 2 with tiny heads appearing, moulded pointed arches with chamfer each side of hollow with ballflower. Cornice under shafted cinquefoil-cusped clerestorey windows. Ashlar moulded wall-plate, 6 angel corbels each side carrying wall-posts and cusped arched braces with traceried spandrels to big tie-beam trusses with king-posts and two opposed curving struts each side. Ornate carved leaf-work on moulded tie-beams at joint with brackets. Roof is panelled with horizontal strips. Aisle roofs have similar panels and straight braces out from corbels between arcade arches, with cusped spandrels. Coloured tile floors. Chancel arch is multi-shafted with leaf capitals, and moulded pointed arch. Cinquefoil light in gable apex. Nave W end has chamfered pointed arch enclosing shafted tower arch with leaf capitals and moulded arch. Chancel roof is boarded and panelled, with carved bosses. Ornate ashlar cornice broken forward over ornate leaf corbels. Three N windows have column shafts, hoods and winged cherub head stops. Similar S window. Broad shafted arch on S side of chancel and narrower arch at E end of S aisle open onto organ on ornate Caen stone organ loft with pointed doors and small windows to ground floor and Gothic stone loft rail with carved heads. Vestries beneath organ loft, with stone winding stair to loft in SW corner. Chancel has fine marble floors and steps of 1894 in green, red, white and grey marbles. One step to chancel, 2 to sanctuary, one to altar. Mosaic floor to sanctuary. Red sandstone shafts to aumbry on N side and triple sedilia on S, with carved capitals and flat heads.
Fittings: 1860 Caen stone panelled font in S aisle with chamfered corners and openwork shaft. !894 Italian marble carved angel carrying shell by W door. Caen stone ornate pulpit of 1860 with 6 statues of saints under canopies at angles, pendants beneath, and winding timber stairs with iron and brass rail Ornate 3-sided Caen stone reading desk dated 1860 with open ogee arched sides with carved spandrels and column shafts, carving repeated even on inside. Tower screen of 1920, blind Gothic panelling with vine cornice under cove, traceried glazing above in arch. Organ by W.G. Vowles of Bristol, 1866 with painted pipes. Reredos of 1894 ashlar with red marble column shafts, big centre gable flanked by ogee-canopied statues of SS Peter and Paul, surmounted by large pinnacles, gold mosaic centre panel with Lamb of God motif, 4-bay Gothic arcade each side with green marble infill to panels, and marble facing to wall below. Chancel stalls with poppy-head bench ends. Pine pews elsewhere. NE Lady chapel screen, altar and panelling c. 1950 with blue terrazzo bench and terrazzo floor. Two W end statues in canopied niches, SS Peter and Paul. At nave NW corner is vestry screen made up of finely traceried openwork late Gothic-style timber formerly part of the organ case at All Saints Church, probably c.1900-10. A cove on E side has carved bosses and shield.
Stained Glass.E window 1894 or c. 1907 scenes of Passion and Crucifixion to W. Parsons and family, rich colours, by R.J. Newbery. Chancel N first window, SS Elizabeth of Hungary & Luke to Dr W.O. Evans c. 1966, similar to second window to Mona Evans signed Eric Dilworth of Twickenham 1966, SS Anne and Agatha. Chancel N third window c. 1900 to children of Dr W.O. Evans, by A.L. Moore. Chancel S window to Mary Edmunds, 1954, by Celtic Studios, Christ and Mary Magdalen. N aisle second 1922 by Kempe & Co, SS Teilo, David & Ciwg; N aisle fourth, 1885, C14 style figures Christ with SS Peter and Mary, given by Griffith Lewis. N aisle fifth 1968 Christ stilling tempest to S. Lewis. N aisle E to Diana Lewis (d 1955) by Celtic Studios, Annunciation. S aisle third window to Eliza Gilbertson (d 1868) in style of Clayton & Bell or Hardman, Resurrection; S aisle fourth, Christ at Bethany, with S Luke and Mary of Bethany, to Dr G. Griffiths (d 1915) by A.L. Moore; S aisle fifth Nunc Dimittis 1921 by Kempe & Co to Lewis Lewis.
Memorials: Gothic marble plaque of 1907 to William Parsons 1795-1864, the donor.
Graded II* as the most ambitious industrialist's church in South Wales.
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