St John the Baptist Church is a Grade I listed parish church, the only church dating to pre-Medieval times in Cardiff city centre. The church was built in 1180 as a chapel of ease for the larger St Mary's Church, itself founded by Benedictine monks from Tewkesbury Abbey. Originally constructed of blue Lias, a Jurassic stone with layers of fossilised shells, it was sourced from Aberthaw. The walls were then originally dressed with freestone - limestone sourced from Dundry.
St John's was sacked during a rebellion of Owain Glyndŵr in 1404. The church was rebuilt in the second half of the 15th Century and given a perpendicular tower with a peal of ten bells. Today it still has a crown of openwork battlements, reminiscent of churches in the West Country of England, and is dated c.1490 because of the similar Jasper Tower of Llandaff Cathedral which was built at this time.
After the foundations of St Mary's were destroyed by the Bristol Channel flood of 1607, the two churches were worked as a dual-location parish until all main services were moved to St John in 1620.
In 1843, John Crichton-Stuart, 2nd Marquess of Bute paid for the construction of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin and St. Stephen the Martyr in Bute Street as a permanent replacement for St Mary's. This allowed the reconstruction of St John, with extensions to the church made in 1886–1897 using carboniferous limestone quarried from Culverhouse Cross. The churchyard wall was also rebuilt, using original Lias mixed with red sandstone in the walls, topped with coping stones of Devonian sandstones from the Forest of Dean.
In 1851 the Cardiff firm of Messrs. Thomas & Norris were engaged for repewing of St John's with the work to be completed by Christmas that year.
St John's stained glass windows date from circa 1855, in the north chapel, with references to the Bute family. Those in the north inner aisle date to 1869, by Morris & Co, with a top row of apostles designed by William Morris himself.
The church was increased in width with outer aisles added to St John's in 1889 and 1891. The old aisle windows were re-set and all the new building was re-surfaced with Sweldon limestone.
The graveyard, already full, was divided by a new public pathway in the 1890s connecting Working Street with Cardiff Central Market. As part of the agreement for the new path, Cardiff Corporation agreed to take responsibility for the graveyard south of the path. This later became St John's Gardens. The path is still owned by the church and is closed every Good Friday. Brass numbers on the path mark the location of graves and family tombs.References:
The Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere is one of the oldest churches of Rome. The basic floor plan and wall structure of the church date back to the 340s, and much of the structure to 1140-43. The first sanctuary was built in 221 and 227 by Pope Callixtus I and later completed by Pope Julius I.
The inscription on the episcopal throne states that this is the first church in Rome dedicated to Mary, mother of Jesus, although some claim that privilege belongs to the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. A Christian house-church was founded here about 220 by Pope Saint Callixtus I (217-222) on the site of the Taberna meritoria, a refuge for retired soldiers. The area was made available for Christian use by Emperor Alexander Severus when he settled a dispute between the Christians and tavern-keepers.
The church underwent two restorations in the fifth and eighth centuries and in 1140-43 it was re-erected on its old foundations under Pope Innocent II.