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Christ Church (Garrison Church of Swansea), Oystermouth Road, Swansea, Glamorgan

Denomination: Anglican

Dedication: Christ Church

Built: 1871-72 with later modifications (see Note 1 below)
Photography: Edward Llewelyn-Jones
Date: 29 Sep 2013
Camera: Nikon D3100 digital

Note 1: The Garrison Church of Swansea is located on the north side of Oystermouth Road. It was built in the Early English style in 1871-2 to designs of J.T.Nicholson of Hereford, modified in 1879, 1883 (enlarged), 1897, 1910 and, especially, 1912-13 by E.M.Bruce Vaughan. The church is orientated north-south and consists of an aisled four-bay nave, which forms a triple south (ritual west) gable towards the road (bellcote above), chancel, overlapping aisles with Lady Chapel and vestry block, organ chamber and porch, and hall-church nave with south-west porch. Construction used snecked rubble facings and pale sandstone dressings. Roofs are of slate with ridge cresting and gable parapets with crucifix finials, cat-slide roof to south-west porch and twin gables to vestry block with tall twin stacks to aisle roof over. Inside, ceiled and ribbed wagon roofs over the chancel, scissor braces to trussed nave roofs. Stained glass includes works by W. H. Constable of Cambridge (1879), C.E.Kempe (1897) and C.C.Powell (1937)
[Source: Coflein database of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (accessed 17 December 2015)]

Christ Church, Swansea
Above: The southeastern aspect of Christ Church, Swansea.

Note 2: Christ Church on Oystermouth Road, almost opposite County Hall, started in a Sandfields schoolroom in 1863. It was later consecrated and created as a separate parish carved out of St Mary's in 1871. [Source: Explore Gower website (accessed 17 December 2015)]

Christ Church, Swansea
Above: The nave of Christ Church.

Note 3: During the 1860s the town of Swansea was rapidly expanding westwards and this area was known as the 'Sandfields' probably due to its close proximity to the sea. The only Church available to meet the spiritual needs of the people was St Mary's. The then Vicar of St Mary's the Rev E B Squires, a far sighted and energetic worker, approached another good Christian gentleman named J W Clarke Esq. He was a well-known merchant in the town and he readily agreed to meet the whole cost of building a new Church, including the furniture and fittings. This turned out to be £2,800, a large sum in those days. He made one demand that there would be 'Free Sittings' in the church and so Christ Church was the first to introduce these in Swansea. The Corporation gave the ground and plans drawn up by Mr Nicholson of Hereford, who had also designed St James' Church in Swansea. Due to the shape of the ground available, the Church could not be built with the altar in the east as is customary in all other churches so Christ Church was built with the altar in the north, so it is unique in this respect. The foundation stone was laid on 28 June 1871, the ceremony performed by Mrs Squires, the wife of the Vicar of St Mary’s. During the Service of Consecration and Dedication, which was led by Bishop Thirlwell of St David's, there was an allusion to the donor of the church: 'For he loveth our nation and hath built us a Synagogue'. From 1872 to 1874 the Rev. Squires was in charge of Christ Church as well as St Mary's. In 1874 a well-educated gentleman, Mr Eli Clarke, arrived and became the first Vicar of the new Parish of Christ Church. [Source: Benefice of Central Swansea website (accessed 17 December 2015)]

Christ Church, Swansea
Above: The chancel, high altar and north window.
The stained glass window was installed in 1879. It bears the inscription: 'Dedicated to the Glory of God', and depicts
scenes from the life of Christ. It was created by W H Constable as a replica of a window in Milan Cathedral.

Note 4: Christ Church has long been regarded as the Garrison Church of Swansea, and there are many indications of this military connection in the Church. There are two large brass tablets on the wall recording the names of the men of this parish who fell in the 1914-18 war, and also the officers and men of the 6th Welsh Regiment who were killed during those years. There are the Standards of many Regiments displayed in Christ Church, including the Royal Engineers Association, the Normandy Veterans, The Burma Star Association, The Welsh Field Regiment and The Royal British Legion. The heavy oak doors to the church entrance were a gift from The Old Comrades of The Royal Engineers in memory of their fallen friends. [Source: Benefice of Central Swansea website (accessed 17 December 2015)]

Christ Church, Swansea
Above: The rood screen, and ceiled and ribbed wagon roof, Christ Church.

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