St. Martin’s Road
Welcome to St. Martin’s! Despite its Victorian grandeur, St Martin’s offers a Warm Welsh Welcome to visitors, with a community area serving refreshments open daily from 10am to 12 noon. As well as being welcoming, we can be described as:
· Joyful in Christ – relating to the variety of services and music offered, and our approach to mission with support for baptisms, weddings and funerals, and welcoming new people into our church family
· Caring – relating to its work in the community, both in terms of pastoral care and in charity events and donations
Church Life – Events at St. Martin’s Church
We are not currently holding any regular events. Click Here to see our Social calendar of upcoming events across the Ministry Area.
If you would like to make any enquiries about hiring this community space please contact:
Nerys Beckett on 07469 952266
Sunday Services at St. Martin’s Church
- 10.30am Eucharist
1st Sunday of the Month
- 6.00pm Evensong
Last Sunday of the Month
- 3.00pm Muddy Church (outdoors)
- Two accessible indoor toilets
- Children’s play area
- Private chapel for quiet prayer
- Off road parking
- Kitchen facilities
- Close to the central train and bus station
- Available for hire – community area or whole church for concerts etc.
- Three accessible entrances
- Comfortable service chairs replacing the pews, which allow flexible use of the space
Points of interest inside the church:
- A fine example of late Victorian church architecture
- An excellent Father Willis organ and a strong musical tradition
- Wonderful acoustics, well used in many concerts – including monthly lunchtime recitals on the 1st Friday of every month
- Choir stalls by Robert Thompson, the Mouseman of Kilburn – including his traditional feature of wooden mice (much enjoyed by children)
- An excellent ring of 8 bells – with a warm welcome offered to visiting Bellringers
- A fine example of Penarth Alabaster in the reredos behind the high altar
- Beautiful stained glass windows
Outside the Church:
- A large, well-kept graveyard – including about ?? war graves. Volunteers are able to help with family searches
- A memorial to the Senghenydd Mine Disaster, listing all those who are buried in this churchyard
- Many mature trees
- Wildlife – squirrels, birds, bees and butterflies
- Flower and vegetable gardens – with bee and bird friendly planting, in addition to the wild flowers that grow among the graves and in specific areas set aside and planted with wild flower seeds
The present church:
The present church, described by the late Sir John Betjeman in the book entitled “Parish churches in England and Wales” as being “large and dignified” stands near the site of the former church, Capel Martin – the foundations of which can still be seen (just) in the churchyard to the west of the present church.
An order in Council dated June 19th 1850, constituted St. Martin’s into a Consolidated Chapelry. It was declared a Rectory on 7th November 1867.
The site for the present church was conveyed to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners on 25th March, 1875. The church is a grade 2 listed building, so designated “for its architectural interest as a large Victorian town church of ambitious scale”. It is, indeed, the largest church in the district and is frequently used for community purposes, such as concerts, large weddings and funerals, and inductions of public officials. It has been called by some “The Cathedral of the Valleys”.
The church itself was erected in 1878-79 during the Incumbency of the Rev. Thomas Jenkins and was consecrated on the 17th of December, 1879, by Bishop Ollivant, of Llandaff. The original building is in the early English style of architecture from designs by Mr. Buckeridge, architect. It was built however under the supervision of Sir John L. Pearson, the well know Ecclesiastical Architect, as the designer had passed away before the structure was undertaken. The cost was £5,500.
Changes to the fabric since that time are as follows:
- 1904-5. To accommodate the growing population of Caerphilly, the Church was enlarged by the addition of two bays at a cost of £4,000.
- A fine and dignified tower was added in 1910, at a cost of £1,780, the architect being Mr. G. E. Halliday of Llandaff. It was erected in Commemoration of the visit of King Edward V11 and Queen Alexandra to the town on July 13th, 1907. It is 75 feet 6 inches in height, built of Pennant stone in the style of the fourteenth century English Gothic.
- The South Aisle was added in 1938 at a cost of £2000 – the money being donated by local parishioners, to mark the occasion of the 50th Jubilee of St Martin’s Church in 1929.
Features within the church:
The clock made by Niehus Bros. of Bristol was added in 1911, following public subscription. It was electrified in 1980, and in 2000 was rebuilt and upgraded by J.B. Joyce and Co., who also restored the Westminster chimes. The magnificent peal of eight bells was cast by John Taylor of Loughborough in 1910, and is set in the key of F. They were a gift from Miss Catherine Anthony, formerly from The Grove, Caerphilly, who was a great benefactress of the church, and who also gave the brass Eagle lectern. The bells are named after members of her family, and are considered by ringers and being one of the best rings of eight bells in South Wales.
The glorious East window above the High Altar was a gift from Lord Windsor, in memory of his grandmother, Baroness Windsor, as was the High altar, which was made by employees of the Windsor Estate.
The font was originally sited in the traditional place near the main door, signifying baptism as the entrance into Christ’s family. It is possibly the oldest feature of the church, and is believed to be medieval, being previously used in Capel Martin for many years. After some years of mysterious absence, it was found at a local farmhouse and placed in the present church. It was moved in 2018 to its
present position in line with the main entrance, and underneath what is called “The Lady Window” depicting the infant Christ – very appropriate for baptism.
The organ of fine quality is a Father Willis, which was installed in 1891 at a cost of £515. In 1953, it was extended with additional pipework in memory of the war dead. In 1968 the organ was rebuilt and enlarged by Percy Daniel of Clevedon, to a specification drawn up by Ralph Downes, and the pipe complex was moved to the South Aisle and housed in a modern case, designed by George Pace, with a detached stop key console in the sacristy. It was dedicated by the Archbishop of Wales on 23rd April 1969. Following a fire in 1977, the console was moved into the nave under the pipe complex and in 1982 a “Trumpet” stop was installed.
The Lady Chapel, where the blessed sacrament is reserved, was re-shaped into its present form in 1969 by George Pace, at the same time as the organ case was moved. This is now set aside for prayer and private contemplation, and occasional services.
This area used to hold the organ and organ console, but when these were moved to their present positions, it became a multi-purpose area, which is kept locked unless in use, and is now used as:
- A Vestry for the priests, holding all the church vestments
- A “sacristy” area for preparation for services – holding the altar silver (in the silver safe) and altar linen
- And, most recently – a benefice office where the administrator works and keeps required filing and records
The Reredos behind the High Altar was given in memory and in thanksgiving for the ministry of the first Rector, The Reverend Thomas Jenkins, which spanned 28 years. It is made of Penarth Alabaster, which is now unobtainable – for more information, see the book “Penarth Alabaster”, by Michael Statham.
The Reredos has within it three statuettes. The middle one is Our Lord, bestowing his gift of peace. On the right as you look up from the nave is the Apostle Thomas, holding his “T” square, and on the left is Saint Martin, with sword in hand, cutting his cloak in two to share it with a needy beggar.
Stained glass windows adorn the church. Recent donations in memory of faithful parishioners include:
– a window on the north side depicting St Joseph the Carpenter (1993),
– another on the south side depicting the new-born Saviour in the arms of His Mother, Mary (2002),
– and the latest on the north side, depicting “Christ the Light of the World” (2011).
The original site of St Martin’s was to the west of the present church, and it had a small churchyard, which contains the oldest graves. An acre was added to the churchyard in 1883 which extended the site to the south, and about one acre again in 1905 which extended the graveyard across the south of the present church. This was gifted by Bartlett George Goodrich in memory of his family who used to live in a mansion in Energlyn.
More to come…………………….
The Old Rectory and the New Rectory:
The site of the old Rectory building was conveyed on 3rd August 1868 – alongside the churchyard on the west of the Church. It is a fine Victorian house, with three stories plus a cellar, surrounded by lawned areas. It was regularly used by the Parish for meetings
and (most notably) for the Summer Fete
More to come……………………
Previous churches on the site:
There has been a “Chapel of Ease” in Caerphilly since at least the 16th century. The earliest reference discovered is in 1552. It appears in the Pembroke-Bute Papers, which are in the National Library of Wales. In these there is a reference to a 1576 Conveyance of land
between Mary Herbert and Nicholas Herbert of Cardiff, which refers to a deed of grant to Matthew Herbert in 1552 of land in Eglwysilan – which includes the Parsonage at Eglwysilan and the “Chapels thereunto belonging at Llanfabon and St Martin’s by Caerphilly”.
Henry Lloyd, in his “History of Caerphilly, from the Earliest Period to the Present Time”, published in 1900, says the church was built two centuries before the first Nonconformist buildings appeared and that it was built at the expense of the Lewis‘s of Van as a mission church (the same more or less, as a Chapel of Ease). Later records indicate that:
- It was repaired considerably in 1701 and
1745, and in the Bishop of Llandaff’s Visitation Return for the Parish of
Eglwysilan in 1771 there are records of the Curate, Edward Jacob saying that
the Chapel of Ease – St Martin’s “is in such a ruinous state of repair that it
is dangerous to perform there”.
- In the 1781 Return it says that St Martin’s
“was recently repaired very decently by subscription”.
- In 1820, the building was pulled down and
completely rebuilt – John Goodrich of Energlyn seemingly being the main
benefactor. It was consecrated July 23rd, 1822.
- After the present church was consecrated, a
faculty was obtained on 3rd August 1882 for taking the old church down.
National School – St. Martin’s Hall:
It was Baroness Windsor who made the conveyance of land in December 1867 for the purposes of building a church school in Park Lane. This building has had a somewhat colourful history – first as a National School, which was closed in 1905 when the local authority wished to make it a Council School. It was retained by the parish only after a battle through the courts from 1905 to 1913, and it then became “St Martins Church Hall” or “The Parish Hall” – with this use permitted through a “Cy-Pres Scheme” granted by the House of Lords in 1913. It was extended in 1920 to provide more space for the Sunday School (which at that time numbered 400 children), and then used by the church and by a number of local organizations providing wider aspects of education and training for young people.
The Hall was sold to Caerphilly County Borough Council for redevelopment purposes, and the parish was allowed to retain it for a few years to continue using it until the Council was ready to progress their development plans. At that time, our much-valued extended mission to the community included Rainbows, Brownies, Guides, Zumba Dancing, Aikido, Kick Boxing, Tai Kwando, Dancing Classes, Youth Club, Ladies Fellowship, Mother’s Union, Street Pastors and, of course, Parish Social Events.
A sub-set of activities was relocated to the church in 2014, when the Hall was finally handed over to the Council for the Hall to be demolished. The parish was allowed to recover some of the stone of the demolished building to be used as a memorial of the hall and the many years of its service to the community.
A re-ordering Project was established in 2011 to provide replacement community space using the back two bays of the church – i.e. the extension of 1905. The project continues to make progress slowly, as money becomes available for different phases of development.
Click here to watch our virtual drone tour of the building and grounds
Click on each link below to hear more about each point of interest:
1 = East Window
2 = Reredos
3 = Altar
4 = Choir Stalls
5 = Lady Window
With grateful thanks for all money received to make this possible.
· June 2020: Major repairs to the East end and repairs to damaged leadwork – facilitated by a generous legacy, supplemented by the listed places of worship scheme
· July 2020: Major repairs to the tower – facilitated by a Heritage Lottery grant, in addition to smaller grants from the Church in Wales and the Listed Places of worship scheme
· November 2020: Building a new garden of remembrance to the west of the church,
supplemented in 2021 by a central memorial – facilitated by Caerphilly County Borough’s Welsh Church Act fund
· December 2020: new live streaming facilities added – facilitated by Heritage Lottery
· June 2021: Repairs to the front of the church; Lych Gate and footpath – also facilitated by Heritage Lottery fund
· July 2021: new electric piano/organ purchased and audio systems updated – facilitated by Heritage Lottery, and two generous donations