St. Felix, Blaenavon

During the nineteenth century Blaenavon Ironworks and the growing town attracted migrants from all over Wales, England and also from overseas, Ireland, Italy and Germany.

Capuchin Franciscans had a ministry in the district of Cwmbran and responded to the influx of Roman Catholics. The Friars soon established a mission in Blaenavon.  Initially Mass was celebrated in a room above a warehouse.

In 1868 German and Italian Franciscan monks established Sacred Heart & St. Felix, in Ellick Street, Blaenavon where many Roman Catholics worshipped. The church was constructed as a dual purpose church and school; it was built largely through the benevolence of an unnamed local noblewoman who was a Franciscan tertiary.

Twentieth century additions to the church include Stations of the Cross erected in memory of John Higgins, and stained glass windows in memory of former Parish Priest  Rev. Richard Jennings (d. 1942). Following the Second Vatican Council a new hardwood forward altar was installed. The church’s Benediction Monstrance was dedicated to the memory of Leopold Winterhalter (of German descent), following his death in 1921. A polished oak high alter was dedicated to his wife Ann, following her death in 1939

Today the church is a chapel-of-ease to St Alban’s, Pontypool.

Photograph of the nave of St. Felix Church


The simple pitched slate roof Gothic church has a gable entry.  It is constructed of rock-faced granite with sandstone ashlar dressing. There is an adjoining presbytery.

The nave has three bays.  At the south side there are triple lancet windows. The sanctuary at the east end is under a lower ridge line, the transepts are under a lower line. The Sacristy is in the south transept, the north transept forms part of the Presbytery. At the east end is a large window with simple Gothic tracery. The entrance is arched. Above the entrance is a niche with a painted stone statue of the Sacred Heart. The painted plaster relief Stations of the Cross are set in oak Gothic frames. The first Station is signed “Maurice Vanpoulle” (a French businessman who sold vestments) and a brass memorial indicates that these and the tabernacle were erected in memory of John Higgins.

Outside photograph of St. Felix Church