The Benefice of Pont Gors Fawr
St. Barnabas Waunarlwydd

Discovering the Love of God in Jesus Christ.

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Some historical detail of our church

The church was built in 1888 at a cost of £1,000 in an Early English style. Erected as a “Chapel of Ease” to the parish church of St Peter, Cockett. A hall was attached in the 1920s and both had major restoration c 2010. [Chapel of Ease…an extra chapel for the convenience of worshippers who live far from their parish church]

Waunarlwydd was separated from the Parish of Cockett in 1920 and added to Gowerton to form the new parish of Gowerton. It separated again in…???

The church has a nave and chancel constructed with coursed random rubble carboniferous sandstone with Bath stone (Oolitic Limestone) dressings, under a slate (Spanish) roof.

Stained glass

The Crucifixion with the Virgin Mary, St John and St Mary Magdalene east wall of the chancel

St Cecilia firm/studio: Celtic Studios 1966 south wall

St Barnabas Window artist: Rachel Phillips about 2011 north wall to read more about this window click here

The Story of Swansea’s Districts and Villages

NL Thomas 1969
Qualprint Wales Ltd.,

St Barnabas Waunarlwydd (pages 120-123)

Although the Church does not have a long historical background and is unable to display architectural features of great grandeur, nevertheless, St Barnabas’s general simplicity of design, within and without, is a thing of beauty in itself.

Much of the groundwork which led eventually to the building of St Barnabas was laid in the very early 1880’s by Mrs Iltid Thomas of Glanmor. In 1882 she was responsible for the erection of a mission Toom with the locality and firmly support Mr Burrells, lay reader, who also successfully brought into being a Sunday School here and helped to prepare a congregation for the forthcoming Church. With such encouraging progress and practical support, Vicar D Roderick was thereby able to proceed with his plans for building St Barnabas in 1887.

The foundation stone was placed on the 3rd November 1887 by Miss Isabel de Winton Thomas, the daughter of Mr & Mrs Iltid Thomas, Glanmor. Miss Thomas, who later became Mrs F W Gilbertson, together with her sister Miss Iltid Thomas, maintained a keen and practical interest in the Church’s advancement for a long time afterwards. The building took a little more than eight months to complete and the Church was opened for public worship in July of the following year. [1888]

The first of the opening services took place at 3 pm on the 12 July 1888 and was read by the Rev D Roderick, Vicar of St Peter’s Parish, which embraced Waunarlwydd at that time. The First Lesson was read by Canon Smith, the Rural Dean, and the Second Lesson by the Rev D Jones, Vicar of Pontardawe.

A packed congregation at the evening service heard Vicar Roderick read the Service again but on this occasion it was undertaken partly in English and partly in Welsh. The Lesson in Welsh was read by the Rev T Williams of Kilvey, after which a powerful sermon was given by Canon Smith. Other well-known clergymen in their day present at these services included: Rev E Davies, St John’s Swansea; Rev E W Bolney, Sketty; Rev E G Williams, Glasfryn; Rev T Davies, Pontardawe, Rev Ogwen Davies, St Matthews Swansea; Rev A Jordon, Gowerton; Rev T Riches & Rev Davies, St Paul’s Llanelli; Rev Henry Lloyd, Cockett, Rev J Jenkins, Hafod; Rev W Jones, Penclawdd; Rev T P Lewis, Gorseinon; Rev H Hewlett, Swansea; Rev J G Mathias, Waunarlwydd; Rev H Jones, Penllergaer.

Gustavus Bros., of Swansea were responsible for the construction of the Church, built in the Gothic style, the architect being Mr T Lawrence Lewis. The woodwork is all of pitch pine and the pews are estimated to accommodate between 250 and 300 people. The original length of the building was approx. 57 feet by 25 feet wide, with a transept measuring 15 by 11 feet. Today [in 1969] the complete length of St Barnabas is 80 feet, the Nave being 53 feet and the Chancel 27 feet. The combined cost of the Church and its Schoolroom amounted to £1000 and it is to the credit of the members concerned that all but £200 of this total has been found by the time the Church was opened. The land on which the Church stands was bought from Sir EAKC Stepney an others for £37.10.00 and was conveyed to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners by deed dated 26 June 1889.

Five days after the opening of the Church, three children, all boys, were baptised by the Rev J G Mathias. They were the first to be baptised in St Barnabas, their names being: Percy Graham Dyer, William Henry Bowditch and Albert Henry Evans. The first wedding was solemnised between JOH Jenkins and Ann Jones on 29 October 1892, the officiating minister being Rev A E Evans. For 20 years, Mr Jenkins served St Barnabas as Churchwarden.

During the period 1902-1903 the Church underwent certain renovations and a Chancel was added. On the completion of this work, the Church was re-opened on 6 January 1903 and the burial grounds consecrated.

The 1903 re-opening and Consecration are among the most important events relating to the history of the Church. Its parishioners responded magnificently to meet the total cost of £600 involved. In a very short time £500 had been found by enthusiastic members.

A Service was held when the Litany was read by the Rev A E Evans, the sermon being read by the Bishop. At the evening Service, the pulpit was occupied by the Archdeacon of Carmarthen.

The renovation work and extension were carried out by the well-known Swansea contractors, Bennett Bros., from the designs and under the superintendence of the noted Mr Glendenning Moxham, architect of a numerous buildings locally, including the Swansea Market of 1897. [ Market burnt out in the Blitz of 1941].

A description of the finished work reads:

The character of the work is simple, but well pro-portioned. The exterior walls are of native stone, with Bath stone quoins, and covered with a slate roof. The inside walls are a deep cream, the floors being laid with encaustic tiles. The choir stalls are of pitch pine and the East window is designed in the 15th century style, with a beautiful stained glass window centre light, the gift of Mr Arthur Gilbertson Pontardawe. The new pulpit is of Bath stone. The aisles to the Nave have been laid with encaustic tiles.

In addition to the regular congregation, the choir members were particularly pleased with the alterations for previously they had to sit in the front seats of the Nave with the organ on their right, near where the Vestry door is now. The present organ, incidentally, was brought from the Parish Church of Cockett in 1889.

St Barnabas remained in the Parish of St Peter’s Cockett until 1920. On 25 June 1920 Waunarlwydd no longer formed a part of the Parish of Cockett but with Gowerton, which had been cut off from the Parish of Loughor, it now formed the new Parish of Gowerton with Waunarlwydd.

During late 1924 the Church was threatened when a fire did considerable damage to the Schoolroom. However, the prompt action of the Swansea Fire Brigade stopped the blaze from spreading to the Church itself.

The Mothers’ Meetings originally started in 1888, by Mrs and Misses Jacksons of Cefngorwydd continued to function as a body in this form until about 1926. Then in 1929 a branch of the Mothers’ Union was formed by the Rev J P Jackson, who later became Rector or Reynoldston. The interior of St Barnabas has greatly benefited from the many additions it has received from the Mothers’ Union branch.