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Church of Saint John the Baptist

A Grade II Listed Building in Dyffryn Clydach, Neath Port Talbot

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.662 / 51°39'43"N

Longitude: -3.8314 / 3°49'53"W

OS Eastings: 273425

OS Northings: 197505

OS Grid: SS734975

Mapcode National: GBR H1.6JZ7

Mapcode Global: VH4K5.JHV7

Entry Name: Church of Saint John the Baptist

Listing Date: 22 December 2003

Last Amended: 22 December 2003

Grade: II

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 82344

Building Class: Religious, Ritual and Funerary

Location: In a prominent position on a hill above New Road on the E side of Skewen.

County: Neath Port Talbot

Town: Neath

Community: Dyffryn Clydach

Community: Dyffryn Clydach

Locality: Skewen

Built-Up Area: Neath

Traditional County: Glamorgan

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Llandarcy

History

Anglican parish church of 1849-50 originally designed by R.C. Saunders, the design altered in execution by Egbert Moxham of Neath. It cost £1,050 and was a relatively early example of revived Early Decorated Gothic in the region, the style as advocated by the Cambridge Camden Society (later the Ecclesiological Society) as the most appropriate for Gothic church building. Altered 1881 for £1,300 with very ornate marble fittings: a massive pulpit given by Catherine Jones of Rockfield, marble font, pulpit and reredos, all designed by E.M. Bruce Vaughan of Cardiff. Marble altar added in 1936 in similar style.

Exterior

Anglican parish church of sandstone rubble with Bath stone ashlar dressings and slate roofs banded in 2 colours, with shouldered coped gables and cross finials. Nave and lean-to aisles, aisles partly overlapping chancel, S porch, W bellcote and N vestry. Early Decorated Gothic, slightly-cusped lancets in singles or pairs with hoodmoulds, deeply splayed reveals and tooled sandstone voussoirs over. Moulded ashlar top to plinth, flush ashlar quoins and stepped buttresses with ashlar quoins. Nave has ashlar gabled bellcote with pointed opening for a single bell. W end has 2 long lancets each side of a crude three-stage mid-buttress stepped-in on 3 sides, and lower 2-step buttresses to each side. Curved triangle window in apex with hoodmould. Aisles W ends have single-light window and clasping buttresses at outer angles. Four bay nave with four similar curved-sided triangular clerestory windows over lean-to aisles with mostly steeply pointed 2-light windows with deep hoodmoulds, and quatrefoil in heads, and two-step buttresses between. S aisle has single light, porch and three 2-light windows, the last bay overlapping the chancel (lighting organ chamber). Porch is steep-gabled with low side buttresses, chamfered pointed door with hoodmould and voussoirs, and small vesica in gable. W side has small cusped lozenge window, E side a cusped roundel. Door with very ornate iron scroll hinges and cover strips. Inside, a plastered pointed arch and padded door. N aisle is similar with four 2-light windows, 4 buttresses and vestry in end bay, N side obscured by added lean-to. Some carved head stops to clerestory hoods. Chancel is lower sides mostly covered by aisles which have similar 2-light E windows. Chancel S and N long traceried 2-light Decorated Gothic windows with quatrefoil in heads, stepped buttresses clasping angles, and big 3-light traceried E window with octofoil in head. Small curved triangle window in gable apex.

Interior

Plastered walls and small high clerestory windows over 4-bay arcades of plain chamfered pointed arches on ashlar alternate octagonal and round columns, a thicker ashlar pier between first and second arches on S, relating to S aisle crosswall to SW baptistery. Steep open nave roof with thin scissor-trusses on small hammer beams on wall-posts carried down to small carved corbels. W end has Gothic timber dado panelling. Aisles have lean-to roofs with diagonal braces from carved corbels on arcade walls. S aisle has pointed arch at W end to baptistery, organ at E end. N aisle E end has pointed arched door into vestry. Pointed chancel arch and 2 steps to chancel with similar roof. Chamfered tall pointed arch to S to organ, pointed door to N vestry. Two steps before vestry door, one step to sanctuary which has encaustic tiles.
Fittings: Ornate marble font, pulpit and reredos apparently of c1870-80 in lavish coloured marbles. Font has veined marble octagonal bowl, the principal faces ornamented with carved quatrefoils in roundels and four marble spheres in corners. Marble fat column below with 4 small marble columns around. Pulpit is large and square, in veined marble with chamfered corners, each with two marble ringed shafts, and the two principal sides have carved quatrefoiled roundel with marble spheres within and at corners. Leaf upper cornice, moulded base with nailhead and leaf carving, and marble columned support of quatefoil centre pier with four columns around. Steps up from E. Marble altar of 1936, in similar, by then very old-fashioned style, with 5-bay cusped pointed arcading, marble shafts and inset motifs in matt-glazed tile (opus sectile) of 4 shield-bearing angels and centre Risen Christ. Alabaster top with carved leading edge. Reredos and E wall cladding look to be of c1870-80, very rich veined marble. Marble wall cladding each side has quatrefoil roundels with mosaic inserts and battlemented cresting. Reredos is of three bays, with short marble shafts to cusped pointed low arcade. Mosaic angels in cusped heads over mosaic frieze 'Glory to God..' and fine square mosaic patterns between the column shafts with IHS, Lamb of God and Alpha-Omega motifs. In arcade spandrels are 2 mosaic crowns in roundels. First World War memorial chancel screen in oak, Perpendicular Gothic style in 3 bays with fine traceried heads to openings, carved frieze with bosses and cresting. Cross above. Earlier to mid C20 oak baptistery screen with seat in arch on N side of baptistery, and along W wall and S wall are matching panelling and seats, probably by W.D. Caroe. Metal C19 altar rails, twisted standards with Gothic leaf scrolls. Brass eagle lectern, later C19, on cast-iron conical base (similar but less elaborate than the one in Dyffryn church). C19 pine Gothic inner porch with half-glazed double doors with patterned coloured glass and symbols of the Evangelists. Fine pitch-pine stalls with column shafted pointed arcading under row of quatrefoils to frontal, column shafts to bench ends. C19 pine pews with cross in roundel motifs in bench ends. Organ of 1927.
Stained glass: Five windows by Celtic Studios of Swansea, of 1960s: in baptistery W and S windows, Baptism of Christ and Suffer the Children; S aisle second window Christ in carpenter's shop; N aisle first Good and faithful servant; and N aisle second Christ on road to Calvary. S aisle third has good High Victorian Gothic window, Angel at tomb, to F.G. Moore, (d 1863), by Clayton & Bell. N aisle third window of 1996, two female saints. Chancel N and S, two 2-light windows in late Gothic style, to Edward and Charlotte Acland Moore, (d 1881), Christ at well and Good Samaritan. E window High Victorian Gothic style, figures on red grounds, Christ teaching, Resurrection and Suffer the children, with 3 scenes below and Christ blessing in top octofoil, possibly by Clayton & Bell c. 1870.

Reasons for Listing

Included as an early example in the region of the correct Gothic as recommended by A.W.N. Pugin and his ecclesiological followers, and for the exceptionally ornate marble fittings.

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