Our Lady Queen Of Peace Church, Castle Street, Newcastle Emlyn, Carmarthenshire
Name: Our Lady Queen Of Peace RC Church
Denomination: Roman Catholic
Photography: Dai Bevan
Date: 18 September 2007
Camera: Kodak Z7590 Zoom digital
Note 1: The first Mass since the Reformation was said in Newcastle Emlyn on Easter Sunday 1952 – for six people. The Parish was then part of the Parish of Cardigan.
In 1952 or 1953 the bishop visited Cilgwyn Mansion to make observations for Miss Allen of St Peter's School Boncath who was then interested in having a school at Newcastle Emlyn. Fr. Raymond Joyce who was chaplain to the school had only recently been ordained was born in 1904. During his trip to Newcastle Emlyn, the bishop visited the old army hut on the Castle site where Mass was being said temporarily, as the Army wished at a later date to take it over and use it for other purposes. Later, the hut was burnt down. The Bishop was keen on the Castle site. The local council gave permission for building of a new church. The land was bought in 1956 and two asbestos huts were joined together to make the first Chapel.
Writing in 1962 Fr. Joyce stated that ten years earlier there were no Roman Catholics in the Newcastle Emlyn district. It was a non-conformist stronghold. He added that a hard and bitter struggle began, on which on three public occasions the priest was asked to leave the town. On the last occasion the squire, Captain FitzWilliams, successfully intervened and used his influence to stop the open bigotry, and so allow the priest to provide facilities for Catholics to practice their Faith in the town.
However, it was not until 1960 that Newcastle Emlyn became an independent parish, the first Parish Priest being Fr. Raymond Joyce. It took in part of three counties and extended over an area of 400 sq. miles, but had only 235 parishioners. When writing to potential benefactors Bishop Petit pointed to the missionary nature of the Diocese of Menevia. Mgr Hannigan described Newcastle Emlyn in 1964 as a mainly agricultural area, with a Catholic community comprising mainly agricultural workers – Welsh, Irish, Italian and Poles. In 1965 the congregation was said to be something over one hundred people.
Bishop Petit had been approached by Dr Constance Myatt of Birmingham, who wished to support a new church provided it would be dedicated to Our Lady Queen of Peace. He contacted Fr. Joyce who had plans for a church, school and Presbytery at Newcastle Emlyn, and also with church buildings at Crymych and Llandyssul. Fr Joyce happily agreed to a new church with a dedication to Our Lady Queen of Peace. In 1962 the bishop recorded that he had in mind to plan the church as a cruciform shape, the nave to be built as soon as possible and the arms to be added when money was made available. The architects selected were Weightman and Bullen of Liverpool. Bishop Petit envisaged something on the lines of the church they had designed for Welshpool; the nave to be built first then one transept – the transept to be used for sacristies. Joyce wasn't too happy with the proposals wishing to have a more delicate construction for the church, to be more in keeping with the beautiful surroundings.
In June 1965 the Bishop asked the architects to build a church to seat about 100. The contract price for the new Church, exclusive of professional fees was £18,909-15s-8d.
The church was consecrated by His Lordship the Rt. Rev. Langton Fox on Sunday 8th May 1977.
[Source: Extracted from Notes on Newcastle Emlyn Parish taken from Diocesan Archives, History of Newcastle Emlyn Microsoft Word document]
Note 2: The church features stained glass by Frank Roper: Stations of the CrossThe Resurrection (1973). [Source: National Library of Wales]