Architect celebrated in church he built - now home for a family

An exhibition on the border architect Thomas Penson has opened in one of his most iconic buildings.

Christ Church, Welshpool
Christ Church, Welshpool

Christ Church, Welshpool is one of the most imposing Victorian churches in Wales, tucked away at the head of the town on the edge of Powis Castle park.

Closed since 1998 it’s now the home of Karl and Natalie Bass and their three sons, who’ve spent almost 20 years building a family residence inside the west end. The rest of the church is largely as Penson designed it in 1839 to celebrate the coming-of-age of Lord Clive, eldest son of the Earl of Powis. It’s known for its rich detail in terracotta, an ornamental brick the use of which Penson pioneered.

Christ Church features in the exhibition along with other churches, houses and public buildings built by Thomas Penson all along the Welsh border. As County Surveyor for Montgomeryshire and Denbighshire Penson was also responsible for many roads and bridges that carry heavy traffic today. They are illustrated in the display along with a map showing where his works can be seen.

Natalie Bass has researched the history of Christ Church and was fascinated by the memorials to 29 Welshpool men who died in the First World War. he produced a display in the church and last month launched a book: ‘Remembering the Fallen of the Great War at Christ Church’. It’s richly illustrated with a chapter on every soldier, bringing them back to life.

The exhibition on Thomas Penson will be on view until the autumn, and visitors on Friday afternoons will be able to see it along with his church in its beautiful, wooded setting. They can buy a copy of Natalie’s book and can also discover the story of a family who have rescued a building for everyone to enjoy.

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