The Parish Churches of Aberdare
Railway union window.
Interior of Saint John Baptist Church
Three churches make up the Parish of Aberdare:
St Elvan (1852 Grade 2 Star Listed building)
The largest of the three churches situated in the town centre.
The Church of St Elvan was built in 1852. It is now a grade 2 star listed building. It contains many works of art which have added to the quality and beauty of the original architecture.
Saint Elvan's Church was built in response to an influx of people flooding into the valley from all over the world to work in mines and iron works. It has always been important to the town of Aberdare from its visionary inception. Historical records have described some of the excitement it created when it was first opened.
'Many people attended the opening ceremony, and it was estimated that there were 1,200 visitors to the town, many of whom arrived by special trains,'
St Elvan's Church was built on land that originally belonged to the Marquis of Bute. Perhaps it was due to his influence that the architecture and that the form of worship had strong Tractarian links. Today St Elvan is firmly Anglo Catholic. After the death of the Marquis of Bute the first Vicar of Aberdare, the Reverend John Griffith formed a committee of local men including two iron masters, Crawshay and Bailey, Thomas Wayne of Iron and Co. and George R. Morgan a Landowner and Magistrate. These giants of Industry provided for much of the original cost alongside the ordinary people of Aberdare who also gave freely what they could afford. There are 16 stained glass windows. Eight were given by Lord Merthyr whose influence in Aberdare can be seen in Aberdare Park a quater of a mile from the Church. The bell tower and the ring of eight bells were also gifts from the people of Aberdare.
Originally, the church had two confessionals and many sets of liturgical vestments. Many are still in use today and can be viewed by request.
The Lady Chapel and the St Michael's Chapel of Reconciliation are ornately decorated with painted roof panels. The Statue of Our Lady and the Statue of St Elvan were carved by Siegfried Pietzche.
In the Chapel of St Michael and All Angels is the 'Eden' memorial to the fallen heroes of WW1 and WW11.
St John Baptist (12th Century) High Street Aberdare
A much smaller but more ancient church close by St Elvan in the town centre.
The Ancient Chapelry of St. John Baptist - Parish Church of Aberdare is the oldest and largest pre-19th Century Church in the valleys. Built in 12th century around 1189, the original Church had a dirt floor and niche seats in the wall for the elderly and infirm. Parishioners were fined 12 pence for missing the Divine Service.
1637 The Bell was presented by William Mathew, cast at Gloucester Foundry which still exists today.
1685 Date of the oldest Gravestone. Bears the simple inscription E.D.D: D:27 1685.
1749 John Wesley preached in the churchyard. The sermon was translated into Welsh.
1789 A Tablet to the left of the west door records the burial of David Watkins. 'To be buried perpendicular beneath the tablet'. Legend has it that Watkin's servant, Shoni Mawr was a giant of a man. His master, unable to look down on him in life wished to do so in death!
1795 Vestry was added and used as a school room. The present west door was opened to allow parishioners access avoiding the school room.
1836 A tablet to the left of the vestry door records the death of Edward Edwards, Ty Newydd, a colonel in the Honourable East India Company who died at San Antonio de Baxas, Texas. (The Alamo.)
1899 A tablet on the South Wall was erected to the memory of Rees Hopkin Rees, who was blinded at an early age while experimenting with
explosives. He overcame his disability to render 50 years invaluable service to the Community.
1914 A lancet window was rediscovered above the west door. A stained glass window was installed in 1984 in the memory of the late Ioan Evans, MP for the Cynon Valley.
Source Material.'A History of St Johns Church' by G. O. Evans (1982)
St Matthew (1888) - A church in the heart of Abernant on the outskirts of Aberdare.
Windsor Terrace, Abernant, Aberdare, Rhondda Cynon Taff, CF44 0SG Telephone 01685-879999
St Matthew's Church is one of the few 'tin' churches left in Wales. It was built in 1888 as a mission church, at that time it was expected to be used for approximately 10 years before a new, more permanent, building was erected. Over 115 years later it is still used every Sunday.