St Augustine’s Church, Penarth
St Augustine’s Church dominates the skyline when you approach Penarth over land or sea or look south from Cardiff Bay; a majestic ship sailing against the clouds. A parish church was established here in 1191 on land given by Osbert le Penard.
The new “Top Church”, funded by the then landowner Baroness Windsor, opened in September 1866. Designed by the Gothic Revival architect William Butterfield, it’s Penarth’s only Grade 1 listed building.
The church is 67 metres (220ft) above sea level, and the Admiralty requested that the new design had the same saddleback-topped bell tower as the earlier church on the site – which mariners used as a navigational aid. The church escaped damage in the Second World War because the Luftwaffe used it as a landmark for bombing Cardiff docks.
Three relics of the original church are preserved inside: a long, flat, elaborate carved cross from the 13th century; a 14th-century churchyard cross; and a prayer desk made from a former chancel gate.
Many Penarth characters are buried in the churchyard. They include the composer Joseph Parry, best known for his song Myfanwy, and Catherine Meazy, who gave great succour and support to Penarth’s poor. One can trace the relatives of James Edwards, the first superintendent of Penarth Dock, on his family tomb.
One grave that’s impossible to find is that of a dockworker who killed his wife and himself. Local legend says his friend buried him in the grounds under cover of darkness because he’d committed suicide.
During open days organised by the church’s Friends (follow the link below for information), you can see the superb 1895 William Hill organ and the restored Arts and Crafts “Roll of Honour” for local men who died in the First and Second World Wars.
With thanks to Tricia Griffith
Postcode: CF64 1BA View Location Map