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  • St John's Church, Odo Street, Hafod, Swansea, Glamorgan

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Description

Denomination: Anglican

Dedication: St John the Baptist

Built: 1878/80

Photography (exterior): John Ball
Date: 1 Feb 1999
Camera: Agfa ePhoto307 digital compact

Photography (interior): Edward Llewellyn-Jones
Date: 1 Oct 2013
Camera: Nikon D3100 digital

Note 1: St John's church is located on the west side of Odo Street, facing down Graham Street. A Vivian benefaction, it was built in 1878-80 in Perpendicular style to designs of architect H.Woodyer of Guildford. The church is constructed of snecked rubble facings with Bath stone dressings under slate roofs. Its plan consisted of twin aisles to nave and east end, with undivided chancel and nave, south organ chamber/vestry, south aisle, west bellcote and south entrance. To the west is evidence at the end of the south aisle for a tower that was never built. The interior opened out into two equal seven-bay spaces separated by an arcade of octagonal piers carrying four-centred arches. Roofs are of arch-brace and collar-beam type, trusses twice as closely spaced over the chancel as over the nave. There are also horizontal metal ties, part of the original design. Fittings include stone font and pulpit, both designed by Woodyer. Stained glass included work by A.K.Nicholson (1928). In 2001 the building was sold off for conversion to social housing [named St John's House] but still retains an area for worship. [Source: Coflein database of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (accessed 5 June 2015)]

Image 1:

The northeastern aspect of St John's Church.

Image 2, 3:

The northwest (Image 2) and southwest (Image 3) corners of St John's Church.

Note 2: John Henry Vivian approached the architect Henry Woodyer in 1849 for designs for his proposed church at Trevivian.[Hafod]. At this stage, the Trevivian schools had just been completed, leaving a space to their immediate east at the centre of the development which may well have been the second site intended for the new church. However, "the donor changed his mind". Hence the new church was not built as the centrepiece of the town. When eventually built, as one of the last elements in the township, it was built on its western edge. It did not even align with Odo Street or with the new east-west cross street, Gerald Street, down which its eastern facade can be partially glimpsed. It did however dominate a slope looking south-westwards over Cwm Burlais where Swansea's church for its large Roman Catholic worker community was built in 1875. The present large, seven-bayed Roman Catholic Cathedral (also lacking its intended tower and spire) was rebuilt by Pugin and Pugin in 188688. The Trevivian Anglican church was built a full 35 years after the Vivians had funded schools for the settlement and 13 years after the first nonconformist chapel, and when eventually realised, it was only part-funded by the Vivians. The church authorities had been given the site at Trevivian which, in the third quarter of the nineteenth century, was the centre of population growth for the parish. Consequently, from 1874 the new vicar, the Revd. J. Stephen Davys, began building an Anglican community by holding services in the Hafod Copperworks' School. There was a depression in the copper industry and the Vivians' plans to build a church in the Cornish style were only partially brought to fruition. Henry Woodyer, the architect, wrote in 1879 that Henry Hussey Vivian was resolute at meetings with the him in his intention to build a church: which then and now shall be a copy of St. Mary's Truro, but with greatly enlarged width this explains the peculiar treatment and length. You will see that we are building only a portion of the intended church – at the last interview I had with the Donor he pointed out to his Son how he should in his time carry out the other portion of the church [i.e. the tall tower and north aisle]. [Source: Copperopolis: Landscapes of the Early Industrial Period in Swansea, by Stephen Hughes, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, Aberystwyth, 2005; ISBN 1-871184-27-4]

Image 4:

An architect's drawing showing the original intention to erect a tower at the southwest corner of the church

Source: Copperopolis: Landscapes of the Early Industrial Period in Swansea, by Stephen Hughes, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, Aberystwyth, 2005; ISBN 1-871184-27-4

Image 5:

Sanctuary and high altar.

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