Cowbridge – Holy Cross Church

History

   The church was founded along with the Cowbridge town in the 13th century, initially as a small chapel subordinate to the church in Llanblethian. Over the following centuries, along with the development of the town, it was expanded and enlarged, with the largest expansion of the south aisle and chapel in the 70s of the 15th century on the initiative of Lady Anne Nevile. Soon after, in 1480, the spire of the tower was destroyed by a lightning strike. At the beginning of the 18th century church was in bad condition: the timber parts were rotten and the bells were cracked. Thorough repairs began to be carried out from the mid-nineteenth century, at which time a modern porch was added.

Architecture

   The original 13th-century church was built from local limestone and Sutton white stone to finish off the architectural details. It consisted of a aisleless but spacious nave, a four-sided tower on its eastern side and a rectangular chancel closing the church in the east.
   In the 14th century, the tower was raised. On a quadrilateral base, it received a polygonal top, atypical for Wales, mounted on corbels, with a battlement. Originally it carried a medieval spire. From the north-east there was placed a turret with a staircase.
   In the 15th century, the southern aisle and the two-bay chapel were built on the northern side of the chancel. Both were reinforced from the outside with buttresses, and two buttresses were also added at the chancel. The side aisle, together with the nave formed west facade, opened to the older part with five arcades based on four pillars, and in the eastern part it was longer enough that it partially covered the tower. In the 16th century, on the eastern side of the chapel, a room for giving alms was built, later used as a sacristy.

Curennt state

   The church, despite the Victorian renovation (during which the northern porch was added), and the works at the inter-nave arcades from the 1920s (during which the original elements were used), today is one of the most valuable buildings of medieval architecture in the Glamorgan region, listed the number I in a three-tier catalog of classified monuments. Inside the church, from the original elements, you can see a piscina in the presbytery, a baptismal font from the fourteenth century, and two rare hatches in the eastern wall, intended for giving alms.

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bibliography:
Salter M., The old parish churches of Gwent, Glamorgan & Gower, Wolverhampton 2002.

Website britishlistedbuildings.co.uk, Church of the Holy Cross A Grade I Listed Building in Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan.