I watch the new Doctor Who series and the spin-off show Torchwood. The Doctor Who episodes set in modern Cardiff are centered on Cardiff Bay and Torchwood is based in Cardiff Bay. In the long shots of the area, I was most intrigued by the building pictured above. I believed it must have been some sort of church. When I was preparing to visit Cardiff, I was excited by the paragraph in my guidebook which referred to a repurposed church on Cardiff Bay. I assumed that the building that intrigued me in Doctor Who and Torchwood must be the former Norwegian church now adapted to a rental facility.
On arriving at the site, I had a feeling that something was off. It wasn’t until I stepped inside that I figured out what it was. It turned out that this building never held a church. I suppose that the lack of stain glass, the small widows, and the cannons outside should have been a clue, but with the peaked roof (not visible in the above photo), the gargoyles, and the central tower I didn’t know what else it could be besides a church. The building is called the Pierhead and it guarded the port, or at least kept track of the traffic coming and going in the port. It is open to visitors now as a museum of the port. I learned a lot about the history of Cardiff from a short, entertaining film, such as the name came from Welsh for “Fort on the River Taff.” The color and decoration of the interior also intrigued me.
When I left the Pierhead, I looked around the bay and quickly spotted the actual church described in the guidebook. Norwegian sailors who passed through the port built this church (pictured below). Roald Dahl was baptized here. Now the building is used as a rental facility. The sanctuary is the rental hall, when I was there it was being set up for a wedding reception on the following day; the choir loft level is now an art gallery; and the space below the choir loft, which I imagine would have been the entryway/gathering space, is now a coffee shop with some delicious pastries. Unique features of this building included the model of a Norwegian sailing ship hanging from the center of the ceiling in the main room and a stain glass window that featured fish. Unfortunately my camera temporary malfunctioned while I was visiting this building and as a result I do not have any shots of the interior.
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