A History of Christ Church

Before the early nineteenth century, Carmarthen consisted of only one Parish, namely St.Peter’s. An increasing urban population was making the old church too crowded; the population grew from 5,548 in 1801 to 9,955 in 1831.

1818 – A committee was formed to found a new church to serve the growing population of St. Peter’s parish

1824 – Bishop Thomas Burgess laid the foundation stone within a few yards of the present building for the new church.

1835 – After difficulties over the transfer of ground, work was stopped and the foundation stone eventually removed. A new site was found in Picton Terrace.

1837 – St. David’s Church was opened.

1843- St. David’s becomes a separate Ecclesiastical District.

1857 – St. David’s becomes a Parish in its own right.

1863 – The decision to build a daughter church to serve the parish’s English-speaking inhabitants

1866 – The Cawdor estate trustees sold the site to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners on 12th February for £150. Richard Kyrke Penson (1816-86) was appointed architect. The site was land at the junction of Lammas Street and Morfa Lane (then Gas Lane.

1867 – Work commenced in June under Mr D.M.Williams, builder, Carmarthen. On 3rd September, the foundation stone was laid by Dr. Prothero of Llandeilo, Provincial Grand Senior Warden of the District.

1868- The lower roof was raised by October.

1869- Tuesday 21st September (St. Matthew’s Day), Christ Church was consecrated by Bishop Connop Thirlwall.The tower rose 94 feet and originally had a short wedge-shaped roof or spire. It was designed to seat 636 adults and 60 children. Its 19windows were glazed with ‘Cathedral Tinted’ glass. The slated roof was 43 feet high. The inside was lit with gas. The church was 120 feet long. The cost was about £3600. Local stone was used for the building, with Bathstone facings.

1914- The South Aisle was converted into a side chapel from 1914 onwards for the weekday Communion services.

1928- Introduction of a new Pulpit as a memorial to a former Curate, the Reverend John D. Jones.

1935- Construction of new Choir Stalls in memory of Colonel and Mrs. Garwood.

1955- A stained glass window was placed in the north wall of the nave, in the memory of the Richards family of Picton Terrace.

1964- Water seepage in the tower led to the removal of the short ‘spire’ and its replacement by a flat roof with parapet. Work was supervised by architect A.D.R. Caroe.

1915-1921 – The Parish Hall was built across the road.

1979 – The Parish hall was sold to HTV studios

1986 – The South Aisle was effectively decommissioned and its pews removed.

1990 –After partitioning the redundant area from the main body of the Church it was converted into a new Hall. This was supervised by architect Mr.R.Clive Powell. Kitchen and toilet facilities were included in the project. Decorative stained glass roundels were commissioned to fill the spaces at the top of the partition (see photo gallery).

2003 – the east gable wall fell through the roof. The church was regrettably closed after extensive consultation with parishioners, Diocese and professional advsiers.

2004 – the congregation moved to Christ Church/Eglwys Crist.

Eric Jones writes: 

 “In November 2003, the east gable wall fell through the roof of the chancel and vestry causing extensive damage. Following detailed inspection additional work was needed to the roof trusses and supporting masonry. The estimated cost of repair was in excess of half a million pounds. Following extensive grant enquiries and consultation with the Lord Bishop, Engineer, Architects and especially the parishioners, it was regrettably decided that the only reasonable solution was to abandon the repairs and close the church. The members could continue to hold Welsh services at Christ Church at and the church  11 am each Sunday and the arrangement has worked out very well. The money raised from fund raising activities for the repair work was just enough to pay the architects, engineer, builder and scaffolding costs”. 

The Revd. Clive Hughes M.A. wrote a brief history of Saint David’s Church whilst he was a curate at the church. This booklet (Welsh and English) can be obtained from the vicar.