The History of the Ss Peter and Paul Windows

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Andrew Griffiths, a former chorister at Ss Peter & Paul Abercanaid, tells us the history of the stained glass windows now housed in the new Worship Centre. Thank you, Andrew. 

“The history of the two stained glass windows depicting St Peter and St Paul, and now installed in the rededicated church of Ss Peter & Paul in Abercanaid, goes back to the early 1960s. They have ties with my grandmother Gwyneth Symonds who lived in Cardiff Street, Abercanaid and who was a staunch member of the congregation. 

The windows were made by J Wippell & Co Ltd in Exeter and are of outstanding quality and craftsmanship. They were commissioned in 1964/5 by my American ancestors Forrest Williams Snr of Chicago and his sister Vera Riggs of California. Forrest’s parents William John Williams and Mary Ellen Williams lived in the parish, in Old Penyard, and when Forrest was just a baby, the family emigrated to the USA where Vera was born. William John Williams and Gwyneth Symonds’ father were, I understand, cousins. 

The window depicting St Paul was given by Forrest Snr and Vera in memory of their parents. 

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The window depicting St Peter was given in memory of my grandmother, Gwyneth, by my grandfather Leonard Symonds, a member of the choir of Ss Peter and Paul, and our family. 

Both windows were installed behind the font in the “old” church in 1965 and there is a photo of me, then a chorister, standing by them. 

The windows were removed from the “old” church after it was made redundant in 2009. They have been lovingly stored and subsequently prepared by Tim Lewis, Glantawe Studios, and are now presented in English oak backlit cases and feature in the sanctuary of the new Worship Centre. It was a privilege to be invited to stand at the altar at the rededication ceremony; the two pictures are taken 53 years apart.

If you ever visit the church of Ss Peter & Paul, take a close look at the quality and detailed craftsmanship of the windows and of the dedication inscriptions. The windows link Abercanaid with Chicago, California, and in more recent times Austin (Texas), Pensecola (Florida) and Stamford (Connecticut) where cousins of my generation now live.” 

Andrew Griffiths