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St Edward's Church: History

The Church of Edward, King & Confessor, Roath

Founded on the religious zeal engendered by the Oxford Movement at the turn of the 19th century, St Edward's was first officially opened for public worship in March 1915. This first building was constructed of galvanised metal sheeting and faced the wrong way, thus contravening the established Christian tradition that the altar should face East. Unfortunately, probably due to a fault in "the new-fangled electricity", the church was destroyed by fire in September 1919. It was decided to rebuild the church to honour the memory of those who had fallen in the 1914-1918 War (details of the memorials). The church was rebuilt in the traditional direction. Such was the enthusiastic support it was possible to construct the new sanctuary, chancel and organ loft of brick with sandstone embellishments. The long nave however was constructed in galvanised metal sheeting. Soon a process of refurbishment began and, over a short period of time, altar vessels of brass and silver, vestments, lectern, and an improved organ were provided - the East window was added much later.

The Sunday continued the prayer book catholic tradition of two celebrations of the Holy Eucharist, the later celebration followed by mattins. On Sunday afternoon a large Sunday School was held. The day concluded with Evensong and Sermon. The Sunday School consisted of several classes in the nave; in those early days boy classes were held on the epistle side and girl classes on the gospel side of the church. In addition mixed classes of infants were taught in the vestry, and a mixed class of older boys and girls (the confirmation class) was taught doctrine in the chancel by the priest in charge. St Edward's also held a weekly Wednesday morning celebration of the Holy Eucharist and special services on festivals. Whitsun treats and Sunday School parties were eagerly supported. During this period St Edward's built up an active, talented amateur dramatic society which regularly played to packed audiences in the Roath Church House.

The Second World War precipitated great social changes resulting in a great fall in Sunday School attendances. Soon St Edward's adopted the modern practice of holding Sunday School in the vestry during the Sunday morning family service, a practice which continues to this day, but nowadays the school is held in the new school room, where parents who attend are also encouraged to take part in understanding the faith and practice of the church.

In 1967, when St Edward's became responsible for supplying the newly inaugurated services at St Teilo's School, it was found impossible to sustain all the Sunday morning services. This resulted in the immediate abandonment of Sunday morning mattins and, later on, the loss of the 8 o'clock celebration of the Eucharist. About this time the ageing, long corrugated nave, was in need of costly repairs. As a result, in 1968, this old nave was replaced by the present brick-built shorter nave; care being taken to ensure it matched architecturally the sanctuary and chancel. Later, confining the Sunday school to the vestry proved so unsatisfactory, both to the congregation in church and to those who had the onerous task of instructing the young, it was decided to build a schoolroom on to the nave, again in the same style. This was achieved in 1992, and included also the addition of a vestibule and toilet room, and ramp for the disabled.

The modern complex of buildings enables the present day St Edward's to host many activities as well as holding the traditional services of Sunday, mid-week services and observance of festivals. St Edward's Choir and St Edward's Orchestra not only hold regular practices but also give concerts, including piano and organ recitals; performances of oratorios, musical plays, and requiems. Visiting artists and speakers have found St Edward's a good auditorium. In addition many of our own events are held at St Edward's such as art exhibitions, fashion shows, book sales, beetle drives, language classes, chocaholics etc. The profits from such events help towards our outreach for charities.

St Edward's was built to extend the mission of Christ in the neighbourhood. This is made possible by those who worship regularly and give of their time and substance, not only through the weekly offertory, but also by supporting the annual Gift Day Garden Party and Annual Bazaar. St Edward's played an active part in the Mission to Cardiff and now hosts regular sessions of the Alpha Course and confirmation classes for our young people; holds regular Taize services and services of worship songs. I am informed by those who attend the traditional services, those who attend the additional services, those who attend the social functions and by those whom I visit pastorally, that St Edward's is a welcoming church. She has had an eventful past and is resolved to face the future with courage and vision.

Rev. Kenneth Martin.