I’ve been known to admire a hinge or two. In fact, I have a rather impressive collection of photos of hinges, but not just any hinges – these are the ironwork masterpieces found on doors, mostly church doors, but also the doors of elegant public buildings, large manor houses, castles even. I’ve recently been trawling around the public buildings in Penarth – mostly churches, or former churches now converted to apartments – and have found these divine examples of the blacksmiths’ art.
St Augustine’s Church: These are three of the doors into St Augustine’s Church – there are a couple of others, less imposing. Completed in 1866, St Augustine’s is a Grade I listed building, so you would expect its doors, its hinges to be grand, and they don’t disappoint.
Holy Nativity Church: The front door of this late-nineteenth church is sheltered within a porch, which is not accessible due to a locked full-height gate, so I nabbed this plain hinge from the back door – still interesting.
Plassey Street Gospel Hall: This Plymouth Brethren Chapel was built in the Arts and Crafts style in 1877. Perhaps that’s why the ends of these hinges look floral.
St Joseph’s Catholic Church: The current St Joseph’s, completed in 1915, is not the first of that name in Penarth – a combined school and chapel were completed in 1877, but that earlier building is currently a construction site. The hinges on this later building are magnificent.
Trinity Methodist Church: Several doors give access to the church, though these, perhaps the oldest, are the only ones with nice ironwork. Opened in 1901, this Victorian Gothic church replaced an earlier iron church. Once again, we have superb examples of the blacksmiths' art.
Stanwell Road Baptist Church: The church itself has a very impressive frontage with two large doors, but neither has ironwork hinges. However, around the corner, the church hall does have hinged doors, though the hinges are quite modest.
As has frequently happened since church attendance began to decline, some Penarth churches have been deconsecrated and converted into living accommodation. One is currently in the middle of that process, though only its façade has been retained and it is not currently visible.
Albert Road Methodist Church is still housed in a small area at the back of the former church building but its door is nondescript. The original church’s doors now open into large, exclusive apartments.