History of All Saints’
All Saints’ stands on what was once common land in the village of Rhiwbina on the outskirts of Cardiff. From 1909 and until the 1920s Rhiwbina greatly expanded especially with the building of the Garden Village, followed by further development in the vicinity immediately around All Saints’ Church across the Brook. This growing community needed a Church and following much fund raising, an offer of a site for the Church building from Lord Tredegar was received together with that of a steel structure which would form the skeleton of the Church building, forming the first part of the Church. The project came alive despite the depression of the times.
The Church was dedicated by the Bishop of Llandaff, the Rt. Revd Timothy Rees, at 3 p.m. on Sunday September 27th 1931. There was room for 140 people. The Church had neither chancel nor sanctuary, and there were only three windows. Music was provided by a harmonium which stood on the left of the Church. Two years later, in 1933, the Church was extended to the form it kept until 1970, with the building of the chancel and choir vestries. On Sunday November 19th the Lord Bishop of Llandaff dedicated the new extension. There was now room for 212 people.
By 1953, a Men’s Working Party had been formed, along with other societies, and the men built the Greater Church Hall in their spare time, working until midnight every night for several months. The hall was opened on May 18, 1954. In 1958 a second-hand organ was bought for £2,000. It had formerly been in Langridge Manor, near Warwick. It was installed by Henry Wills & Sons Ltd, Organ Builders, Petersfield, Hampshire. By 1966 there were so many Church societies, and so many in the Sunday School, that more room was needed and the Lesser Hall was built. All Saints’ Church had been in existence for 36 years before the first wedding took place in it when a licence for weddings was granted in 1967.
By the late 1960s, All Saints’ Church again needed to be extended to cope with growing numbers. Concerts, coffee mornings, schemes for members to “buy” chairs and bricks, and many gifts from members and friends of the Church, provided money for development work to go ahead. The Church entered the Seventies with a new style as well as a new size, and in an age when many Churches were closing or decaying, All Saints’ was a community growing both in numbers and in vigour. In common with the ‘opening up movement’ of the time, the Rood Screen was removed, and the altar brought forward. The Dedication Service took place on Whitsunday, 17 May 1970. The Lord Archbishop of Wales, The Most Reverend Dr Glyn Simon officiated.
Throughout the life of the Church, the choir has flourished as it does today. The 1980s, however, was a truly remarkable period for the choir and may never again be repeated. Choral Evensong was sung on a number of occasions at Llandaff Cathedral. The choir also had the privilege of singing twice at St Paul’s Cathedral, at Winchester Cathedral, at Wells Cathedral, at Worcester Cathedral and at Salisbury Cathedral.
The Church continued to develop. In 1984 and 1990/1992, new stained glass windows were designed and placed at the East and West ends of the Church respectively. Because of the need for even more accommodation, a new hall was built. A service of thanksgiving and dedication to mark its opening was held on Thursday March 6th 1986.
The Rt. Hon the Lord Mayor of Cardiff (Councillor J P Sainsbury FCA) held his Civic Service at All Saints’ on Sunday 23 June 1991. Charles Grieg, who designed and made the Churchwardens’ Wands of Office dedicated in this service, also designed the Cross now in position on the altar of the King George V1 Memorial Chapel in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.
During the Diamond Jubilee of the Church many celebrations took place including a Flower Festival, with the theme, “The Saints of the Church”. The funds collected provided a generous donation towards an MRI Scanner, much needed in the University Hospital of Wales. An immense effort was also made by the Parish, and in particular the All Saints’ congregation in 1992, to renovate the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Riga, capital of Latvia. Over £12,000 was collected following the collapse of Communism. Archbishop Alexander personally came to receive a cheque and presented the Vicar with a Pectoral Cross, which had been produced to celebrate the millennium of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Millennium Celebration, denoted by 1000, is clearly visible, although the writing on the back of the Cross is in Russian.
The move towards having a Rectorial Benefice of Whitchurch or making All Saints’ a Parish in its own right had often been proposed, particularly because of the frequent turnover of curates at All Saints’. In April 2001 following much discussion it was decided by a large majority at a Vestry meeting to create a Rectorial Benefice and on January 7th, 2002 the Rectorial Benefice of Whitchurch, Cardiff was legally established. All these exciting developments had huge spiritual repercussions especially for All Saints’ as for the first time there was now a Team Vicar to be based at All Saints’ for a number of years, which would lead to greater stability.
Recent developments have included the introduction of “The Fourteen Stations of the Cross”, thanks to the generosity of a number of parishioners, and the redesign of the foyer, including the positioning of the Narthex Cross. The development of the “All-Age Eucharist” has encouraged the involvement of children, youth and families in the life of the Church. Increased co-operation has been undertaken with the two local Primary Schools and Greenhill Special School. Ecumenical relationships have experienced a renaissance. At All Saints’, Bethany and Beulah, the longstanding history of co-operation and witnessing together has been rediscovered and renewed. A pattern of celebrating an ecumenical Eucharist together one Sunday evening a month has been established and at All Saints’, a fully bilingual Welsh–English Eucharist with Capel Bethel, the nearest Church neighbour, was shared.
Other matters have included the modernisation of the building as part of the 75th Anniversary celebrations. By the beginning of 2006, All Saints’ was starting to look a shadow of its former self. It had been almost 40 years since the extension and last major works. Décor, electrical wiring and lighting and other matters including woodworm were a cause for concern. After considerable work, on the day of the 75th Anniversary, as the congregation stood and looked at this beautiful Church, it felt that it had continued the work of those who had originally built the Church. A commemoration service took place on Sunday 1st October 2006 with the celebrant and preacher the Rt. Revd Dr David Yeoman, Assistant Bishop of Llandaff. The Church was packed as it had been 75 years previously. Canon Alan Luff composed a new hymn (Called to be saints) to mark the occasion. Many previously associated with the Church attended the service and were able to mingle with old friends in the Church Hall afterwards.
All Saints’ Church began its life for public worship on the 27th September, 1931. The Lord Bishop dedicated it to an overflowing capacity congregation. From such great red-letter days and wonderfully inspiring services, All Saints’ has continued to grow and flourish under the guidance of the clergy and the many lay Church members, including the Wardens and Assistant Wardens, whose generosity and support has kept this Church flourishing. Today, All Saints’ Church ‘building’ is wonderfully modern, spacious and comfortable, but we are ever mindful that it is the people who are the Church, a congregation and a community of faith.