St Michael & All Angels – Dafen
Up until 1854, religious services were conducted by visiting clergy and lay readers; then a fully licensed curate was appointed to reside in Dafen. The building of the church began in 1870 on a plot of land given by C.W.M. Lewis, of Stradey Castle, and was consecrated in 1874. The church was built in the Gothic Revival style at a cost of £6000, borne by Messrs. Phillips and Nunes, the owners of the Tinworks at that time, and aided by a Church in England grant. After 20 years of religious services at the Tinworks School Room, Dafen was formed into an ecclesiastical parish.
The architect was George Edmund Street R.A. of London. He was a pupil of Sir Gilbert Scott and has been described as ‘one of the greatest architects of his day’. Street also designed the East and West Windows and the two south windows in the Nave of the Church. The foundation stone for the church was laid in 1872, by Mrs. Phillips, the wife of the Works proprietor. In September, 1885, the corner-stone for the vicarage was laid by Mrs. Britton the wife of the first vicar of Dafen. The architect was Mr. Arnold of Llanelli .
Ground plan (after work)
DAFEN, St. Michael & All Angels
Parish of LLANELLY, St. Elli,
St. David’s diocese ICBS 07507
Grant Reason: New Church
The contractor was Mr. John Davies who was well-known in the locality as a competent craftsman both in wood and stone. His dexterity can clearly been seen in this beautiful church. He is buried in Dafen churchyard near the east window). His foreman was Joseph Banks who was also the builder of the vicarage. Banks served as the vicar’s warden from 1874 to 1921. The foundation stone of the Church Hall was laid by Llewellyn John in 1900. The Hall opened by the Bishop of St. David’s in 1901.
The total cost of erecting the Church is not known as it was a gift of Phillips, Nunes and Company. The Chancel was erected to the Glory of God and in memory of Fanny Phillips who died on Easter Sunday, 1871. The Church was handed over to the ecclesiastical authorities for the spiritual benefit of the parishioners of Dafen. There was no stipulation as to the language in which the services were to be conducted owing to the fact that at this time there was a great influx of people from outside Wales.
The Church was consecrated by the Lord Bishop of St. Davids, the famous Doctor Cannop Thirwall, on September 29 , 1874, and was dedicated in the name of St Michael and All Angels (the name traditionally given to churches in an elevated position). Before this time the Rev J Williams and the Rev. W Cynog Davies (the incumbent in 1874) had successfully held services at the Mission Chapel.
A phenomenon peculiar to the nineteenth and early twentieth
century was a powerful movement for reviving past styles of architecture by erecting buildings, and in particular churches, in the manner of past ages. Dafen Church has been built in the manner of the Gothic revival – the ‘Decorated period’ of the fourteenth century. The design of the windows is a fourteenth century invention – from a geometrical basis where pointed arches and circles are the only motifs used, the basis of most curvilinear tracery. The edilia and piscina in the sanctuary of the Church are also features of the Gothic period.
In 1981 the Lytch gate, which was first suggested by the
Rev Charles Renowden in 1942, was designed and constructed by the contractors Isaac Jones of Furnace, Llanelli. The War memorial to remember those of Dafen who gave their lives during both World Wars is located on brass plaques either side of the Lych Gate.
The interior was designed to seat 300 people, the high points of which are the stained glass windows and the interior fittings which are integral to the architecture. The walls are of dark grey sandstone with pecked finish, coarsely jointed, contrasting with limestone ashlar dressing painted white, in a varied repetition of the exterior repetition masonry style. The porch opens into the west end of the north aisle as well as the nave, and there is an arcade of three arches with octagonal pillars. The nave roof has four bays with braced collar beam trusses in high pitch. The chancel roof is of a facetted barrel form in panels separated by ribs.
The chancel arch is wide and has two orders. There are two steps up and an additional overlaid ramp with a low wall each side with trefoiled panels with a stone pulpit to the right. The pulpit has quatrefoil pierced openings at the front and stands on a base with dark marble colonnettes. The choir stalls are carved in oak. The Altar is on wrought-iron standards. The reredos is of Sienna marble with cross centrepieces; green and gilt wall-tiles are on each side. There are two sedilia and a piscine under trefoil heads, with dark marble colonnettes. The Gothic altar table, a memorial to Ellen and Kate Harries, was carved by their sister.
The nave windows are dedicated to the memory of the Nunes family and there are brass plaques on the wall beneath them reading:-.
To the beloved memory of Benjamin P. Nunes, died 26th July, 1870,
Francis Nunes died 18 January, 1873, aged 30, presented by
his widow, Tryphena Mary Melville Nunes.
The east, west and the two south windows of the nave were designed George Edmund Street and made by Clayton and Bell.
The east window has three lights – Christ Crucified with St Mary and St John. The life of Christ is shown in the west window in many scenes from the Annunciation to the Ascension, with the coming of the Holy Spirit and Christ in Majesty. The south window near the pulpit shows scenes from the parables whilst the other window illustrates the miracles. The other stained glass windows are two at the south of the chancel and three to the north of the aisle, all mid-20 century. The windows in the chancel show Christ in Majesty, the Good Shepherd and King David with musicians. One in the north aisle is a war memorial, showing the Blessed Virgin Mary with the infant Christ in one light and with St Anne in the other. The second shows St George and St Michael. The third shows Christ blessing the children.
The first musical instrument in the Parish Church was an American Organ which contributed greatly to the worship from 1874 to 1910. The present pipe- organ was built and installed in 1910 by Messrs. Liddiatt of Stonehouse, Gloucester. The cost of the organ was £540 – half was borne by church members and half contributed by Carnegie Trust. The opening recital was given by Rev. David Randall – a former member of the Church. The organ was originally hand-blown, but in 1930 it was fitted with a Discuss Electric Blower. In 1976 the 66 year old organ was overhauled at a cost of £4600.
The following Clerics have served in the church.
Rev. Anthony Britten 1879-1886
Rev. David Davies 1886-1888
Rev. John Rees Jones 1889-1922
Rev. David Sinnett Davies 1922-1930
Rev. Aldred Williams1930-1940
Canon Charles Renowden 1940-1963
Rev. Hywel Tudor Jones 1963-1974
Canon John Byron Davies 1974-1989
Canon Michael Davies 1990-2008
Rev. Gary Powell 2009-2013
Canon Huw Mosford 2014-
From 2017 Dafen church joined the LMA of Bro Lliedi and all clerics are part of the team ministry of the 6 churches