St David’s Church, Neath
This church, a focalpoint for the town centre, was built in the "Victorian Gothic" or "Pointed" style and consecrated on 29 November 1866. Designed by John Norton, it’s a fine example of blue and red brick decoration reminiscent of the style found in Keble College, Oxford, and other buildings of the period.
The singer Katherine Jenkins was a girl chorister at the church. She said in 2013: “I fondly recall the many opportunities I had to sing at St David’s when growing up in Neath, which played a big part in my development as a performer.”
The chancel has richly decorated stone walls, a tiled floor and Decalogue Tablets (showing the Ten Commandments). The Lady Chapel in the south transept was added in 1925 and has a coloured reredos (decorative screen behind the altar) from 1958 showing the four Gospel writers and St David and St Illtyd.
The church’s many stained glass windows include the great west window of 1912, depicting St David and St Deiniol. Several of the windows were created in the 1960s by Celtic Studios of Swansea, Wales’ first stained glass company. In the south transept is a 1993 window by Glantawe Studios, Morriston. The church is also home to 14 Stations of the Cross, drawn and given by local artist Will Roberts, a Royal Cambrian Academician. Another of his works, The Three Magi, is on the choir vestry wall.
The pipe organ was built by Gray and Davison in 1867 and rebuilt by EHL Salter & Sons of Neath in 1935. Arthur Salter, son of EHL Salter, was the church’s organist and choirmaster for over 50 years.
The clock and bells in the church tower were installed after the First World War as Neath’s memorial to the fallen. There’s a large commemorative plaque on the south porch. In May 2013 Katherine Jenkins launched an appeal for funds to restore the tower. The work is due to be completed by late 2014.
With thanks to Clare Evans