Friday, 12 October 2012

St Winefride's closure - the fight goes on

It's not often that you will see me featuring extracts from reportage in The T****t on this blog but they have commented on the struggle between Bishop Burns of Menevia and parishioners of St Winefride's Church in Aberystwyth.

In short, Bishop wishes to sell off this rather traditional church to property developers and build a new one some 1.5 miles out of town. I am told that only 8 or so parishioners are in favour of this plan, the rest, are firmly opposed.

Here is The Tablet's take on things:-

The Bishop of Menevia has hit back at complaints that a diocesan decision to demolish a parish church in Aberystwyth will injure the town's Catholic population.
Parishioners have lobbied Aberystwyth Town Council to oppose the demolition of Our Lady of the Angels and St Winefride's Church and have written to the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols.
But Bishop Tom Burns has told The Tablet that the building, which is still in use, is in such a state of disrepair that it is a danger to churchgoers and that the estimated cost of repair work would leave the parish with a debt in excess of £1m. The bishop said that the sale of the existing site would completely finance the construction of a new church, presbytery and hall on a different site in a neighbouring town.

Pithy, wouldn't you say?

The Victorian Society (I imagine gents in spats and toppers with heavy beards) is a little more wordy and it is interesting that they see something in this consecrated building that many others have overlooked:-

"The Victorian Society is concerned to hear that an application has been made for planning permission to demolish the Roman Catholic church of Our Lady of the Angels and St Winefride in Aberystwyth.

The church of Our Lady and St Winefride is handsome without ostentation, solidly built in local stone with a polychromatic slate roof. It is picturesquely matched to the next-door church house, the two buildings together making a dignified and high-quality contribution to the streetscape. Inside, the church features fine fixtures: a carved stone reredos by Boulton of Cheltenham, a stone pulpit and a drum font, in addition to stained glass.

Quite apart from its aesthetic merits, this church is of historical significance as (we understand) the first Catholic church built in Ceredigion since the Reformation. It also represents an important phase in the development of Aberystwyth, built as part of the town’s expansion as a seaside resort in the late nineteenth century. Its demolition would be a sad blow to Aberystwyth’s Victorian heritage.

That the church has not been accepted for listing by CADW is not an argument for its demolition. The criteria for listing are rigorous, intended to sift the very best examples of particular building types, and applied especially strictly to buildings erected after 1840. We would not try to claim that this church is one of the very finest in Wales; nevertheless, we have no hesitation in declaring it to be one of the finer buildings in Aberystwyth. It was built with a craftsmanship, and of materials, that one would be unlikely to meet with today; we find it difficult to believe that the housing development proposed to replace it will be of comparable quality. A new use can and should be found for this fine building. The application to demolish it should be refused".

I think that the Victorians put it rather well, don't you? As to the bit about "a new use" well, it could become a match for New Brighton in neighbouring Shrewsbury Diocese....but, I wouldn't count on it.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful and empowering thing, the priesthood of the laity. No match for the determined vandal, though.