All Saints

There’s no need to build a church unless there is someone to go to it. The town of Porthcawl didn’t exist at all until the middle of the nineteenth century. The whole district was served by Saint John the Baptist’s church at Newton, founded by the Normans; this is still the parish church. During the Industrial Revolution pits were opened in and around Maesteg and the pit-owners needed somewhere from which to export their coal. There wasn’t a convenient port locally and so a brand new harbour was built at the place we now call Porthcawl. It never became very big, but before long people came here to live and then to spend their holidays-so there was a need for a church.

The first church was set up beside the harbour in 1866. Later, as the town grew there was need for a school as well as a church and a ‘National School’ was opened where the Somerfield Supermarket stands now (which is why the street next to it is called Old School Lane). This was built by the church and had a dual-purpose hall, used for worship on Sundays. As the town continued to grow this again became too small. A corrugated iron church was opened in 1893 as a temporary building, later moved to Maesteg, on the ground where the present church stands.

Work on the present church began in 1912 and the nave and chancel (the main part of the church) were completed by February 1914. The architect was Mr George Halliday from Cardiff. It cost £9750, which was all raised locally. The architect’s plans included a Lady Chapel and choir vestry: these were built in 1964 to mark the 50th anniversary of the building. The plans also included a tower: the money for this has never been raised.
The first thing you see when you come into the Church is the Font. Here people are baptised. You can’t become a Christian until you are baptised, so the font is the nearest thing to the door in most churches. This font was the gift of the first Sunday School.

Next to the font stands the Easter Candle, a large decorated candle which is lit for the first time on the eve of Easter Day, when the whole church is in darkness. It is lit to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. From here we light the candle given to everyone newly-baptised to remind them of the light which Jesus gives.

The most important place in the church is the Altar situated at the other end of the church.

This is where we celebrate the Mass or Holy Communion, when Christians follow Jesus’ command to remember him in sharing the bread and wine which become his Body and Blood.

Behind the altar is the Rededos with statues of Jesus and Saint Peter to the left and Saint Paul to the right. The Stained Glass Window behind the Reredos is a very special piece of work. Designed by Karl Parsons, it was given as a memorial to parishioners killed in the First World War. Part of the window was used as the Christmass stamp in 1992.
The Lady or Mary Chapel was built in 1964; a statue of Mary and Jesus stands just outside its entrance. You may light a candle here if you wish.

The Organ was originally in Worcester Cathedral. It was rebuilt in 1988 at nearly three times the cost of all the original building.

In the body of the church (the nave) stands the Pulpit, used for teaching, and the Lectern which proudly displays a Golden Eagle.
The Lectern is used for the readings from the Bible and for the prayers of the people. The Eagle is a sign of the Gospel or Good News of Jesus flying out over the world.

Just next to the lectern is the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, a special place of quiet and prayer. A new Icon has just been placed here: it is a good place to be.

The Church exists for only one thing-to share the gospel, the Good News about Jesus Christ. It is made up of people, not stones. The Church building is there as a resource for Christians. It is a place where they meet together to listen to God’s word in the Bible, to be taught the faith, to receive Holy Communion and to pray, ask forgiveness and give thanks. After sharing in these resources and in the social life of the church, they go out to try and live Christ’s life in the world, a life which aims to love everyone and condemn no-one. The building is useful, but the Church existed before Christians had permission to build places to worship: it is convenient but not essential. If you visit here, or any church, before you leave please take time to sit, be still and offer to God all that is on your heart. Give God time to speak to you. Thank you.

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