Revd J B Davies, Dafen Parish Church Centenary (1974)

Revd J B Davies, Dafen Parish Church Centenary (1974)

Church of St Michael and all Angels, Llanelli Rural

Description: Church of St Michael and all Angels

Grade: II*
Date Listed: 16 October 1998
Cadw Building ID: 20545

OS Grid Coordinates: 252743, 201009
Latitude/Longitude: 51.6880, -4.1306

Location

At the south side of Bryngwyn Road, Dafen. Stone wall to street and to west side; timber war-memorial lychgate.

History

A church designed by G E Street, R.A., and erected as a gift to the new Parish of Dafen by the leading local employers, Messrs Phillips, Nunes and Company of Dafen Tinplate Works, especially Mr Phillips. The contractor was John Davies of Llanelli. Construction commenced in 1870, and was completed by 1874. The church was consecrated and dedicated by the Bishop of St. Davids in September of that year. Four stained glass windows made by Clayton and Bell probably to Street’s design were installed before the consecration; the other stained glass is of the mid-C20. Other important C20 additions are the organ, installed in 1910, and the altar table, installed in 1932. The lectern was Mr Street’s own gift to the church.

Phillips, Nunes and Company had previously built schools for the children of their workers and from 1854 they employed a curate to minister to the community; the church remained under a curate when Dafen became a parish in 1874. In 1879 the first vicar of Dafen was appointed.

Interior

An especially good interior designed for 300 persons, a high point of which is the stained glass; the interior fittings integral with the architecture. Dark grey sandstone with pecked finish, coarsely jointed, contrasting with limestone ashlar dressings painted white, in a varied repetition of the exterior masonry style. The windows are linked by a string course. The porch opens into the west end of the N aisle as well as into the nave, and there is an arcade of three arches with octagonal pillars. The nave roof is of four bays with braced collar beam trusses in pitch pine. The chancel roof is of facetted barrel form, in panels separated by ribs.

The chancel arch is wide and of two orders. There are two steps up, with a low wall each side with trefoiled panels, and a stone pulpit at right. The pulpit has quatrefoil pierced openings at front and stands on a base with dark marble colonnettes. Carved oak choir stalls. Altar rail on wrought-iron standards. Sienna marble reredos with cross centrepiece; green and gilt wall-tiles each side. Two sedilia and a piscina under trefoil heads, with dark marble colonnettes. Gothic altar table, carved (by their sister) as a memorial to Ellen and Kate Harries (1932).

Street’s windows are the east and west, and the two south windows of the nave. The east window is of three lights: Christ Crucified with St Mary and St John. The life of Christ is shown in the west window, in many scenes from Annunciation to Ascension, with coming of the Holy Spirit and Christ in Majesty. The south window near the pulpit shows scenes from the parables, and the other shows the miracles. The other stained glass windows are the two at south of the chancel and three at north of the aisle, all mid-C20. Those in the chancel show Christ in Majesty and 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.

Exterior

A Gothic Revival church designed in the late-C14 Decorated style, Dafen church is composed to be seen to its best from the north side: a nave and chancel of almost equal height, steep-roofed, with a thin octagonal open bell turret terminating as a spire marking the junction; a north aisle with a shallower roof pitch, flanked by the gabled block of the vestry including chimney at left and the entrance porch at right. The material is local brown sandstone, randomly coursed, given a rock faced finish, laid in a coarse-grit mortar; the masonry dressings of yellow colour (doors and windows, coped gables with kneelers and crosses, string course and quoins) all in Bath limestone ashlar. Further contrast of colour from the roof material: Whitland Abbey green slate with a red tile ridge, in graded courses. The detailing is of increasing elaboration as one proceeds towards the chancel end.

Crossed corner-buttresses to the nave and chancel gables, the latter being of deeper projection. There is one intermediate buttress on both the north and south sides at the chancel-wall position, masking the slight change of width of the building. The nave and the chancel are both given two additional buttresses on the south side. Those attached to the nave have sloping offsets and tops; those attached to the chancel have additional offsets and gables at top.

The aisle windows at north are two-light type in plate-tracery with trefoil heads to the lights, the apex of the dressing stonework being truncated at the eaves. The window to the vestry gable is similar but of three lights in an outer arch. The main entrance door, balancing this, is equilateral-pointed with a simple moulding. The windows on the south side are much larger; those of the nave are of four lights with tracery, but without labels; those to the chancel of two lights but with labels. A string course links the sills. The east window has three wide lights, labels with floral stops, and is the only window to stand clear of the string course.

There are original cast-iron rainwater heads and downpipes, but the gutters have been replaced.

One consecration cross is carved on a stone at the foot of the wall beneath the vestry window. The positions of others have not been observed.

Reason for Listing

Listed II* as a subtly expressive small church by G E Street, a leading architect of the Gothic Revival, with a fine contemporary interior including exceptional stained glass.

References
Revd J B Davies, Dafen Parish Church Centenary (1974);
The Welshman, 2 Oct 1874;
Information from J Orbach