The Welsh National Temple of Peace and Health, known as the Temple of Peace and Health, is a non-religious civic building in Cardiff, the capital city of Wales, in the United Kingdom. It was designed by the architect Sir Percy Thomas. Since its foundation the building has always served a dual function as headquarters for health and international affairs organisations.
The centre's conference and seminar facilities include the 200 capacity marble Main Hall, the 50 capacity wood-panelled Council Chamber and the smaller 20 capacity meeting room. The venue has parking nearby and is within walking distance of the northern city centre. It can also be reached by rail transport from Cathays railway station.
The Temple of Peace and Health was the brainchild of David Davies, 1st Baron Davies, and was conceived to serve two purposes. The first was to provide a home for the King Edward VII Welsh National Memorial Association, a voluntary organisation dedicated to the prevention, treatment and eradication of tuberculosis, which had been founded by Lord Davies in 1910. Davies was also the founding president of the Welsh National Council of the League of Nations Union, and in 1934 he pledged £58,000 towards the erection of a building to house the two organisations.
Lord Davies wished for the Temple of Peace and Health to be "a memorial to those gallant men from all nations who gave their lives in the war that was to end war" and so it was dedicated to the memory of those who laid down their lives in that war. Davies had fought in the trenches during this war, and was actively involved in the search for stable international order through the League of Nations and the League of Nations Union. He wanted to see the establishment of a strong International Police force so that international agreement and peace could be obtained. Born in 1880, he died on 16 June 1944, before the Second World War ended, but was continually stressing, as in a letter of 1943, "the vital importance of arousing our people to the need for an International Authority", posing the question "what doth it profit a nation if it gains the whole world and loses its own soul?"
In founding this public building, Lord Davies hoped to combine the ideals of peace and health. He wanted these two great humanitarian causes to be expressed in the architectural design of the building. The architect of the Temple of Peace and Health was Sir Percy Thomas, who was awarded the Bronze medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects for its design. The foundation stone was laid by Viscount Halifax in 1937. The Temple of Peace and Health was opened on 23 November 1938. The ceremony was performed by one Mrs Minnie Annie Elizabeth James of 8 Cross Francis Street, DowlaisCardiff, who lost three of her sons in World War I. She died in 1954 at Dowlais, Merthyr. The Temple of Peace and Health was bombed in July 1968 by Welsh nationalists in protest at the approaching investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales. In 1998 it was one of the main venues for the European Council’s Summit Meeting.
The building, built in the form of the letter ‘T’, has two wings. Made out of Portland stone, the roofs of the wings are dark red Italian pattern tiles. It is in these wings that offices and committee rooms, on three levels, are situated. The building as a whole is made from materials from various countries, to emphasise the international nature of the work carried on inside the building. The Temple of Peace and Health, because of its location, has both the busy centre of Cardiff and the rather quieter park close at hand. The main entrance of the building faces King Edward VII Avenue, and at the rear of the building is the Garden of Peace, with North Road behind it.
Entrance Hall / Vestibule:
One is hardly able to miss the large pillars facing you as you enter. Behind these columns of portico are three large windows, above which are panels depicting figures representing Health, Justice and Peace. The arms of the Home Nations, England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, can also be seen.
The central portion of the building, being deliberately higher than the wings, houses the spacious Temple Hall. Situated on the ground floor and facing anyone who enters the main entrance, it is lined with dove-grey marble to symbolise the emblem of Peace. It serves as a meeting place of numerous cultural and social organisations, with lectures and conferences on international issues being held here (featuring speakers from all over the world), as well as it being a venue for campaigning groups and social events and one of the examination venues for Cardiff University.
The Crypt and the Welsh National Book of Remembrance:
Situated immediately below the Temple Hall, the Crypt houses the first Book of Remembrance. 1,100 pages long, it bears the names of 35,000 men and women of Welsh birth and parentage, and the men who served in Welsh regiments who lost their lives in the first World War. As most died on Belgian or French soil, the bronze used on the glass casing of the Book of Remembrance is French, and the marble pedestal on which it rests is from Belgium. Concealed lighting illuminates the book from the roof of the Crypt.
This is used as a meeting place, and is also a library, housing many books with international themes. Wood panelled, it is to be found on the first floor of the building. Lord Davies’ own book collection can be found there, in part. Since its inception, the Temple of Peace and Health has been divided, in terms of its occupancy, into two sections. The first two occupants of the building were the League of Nations Union Welsh National Council, and the King Edward VII National Memorial Association. Now it is the Welsh Centre for International Affairs and Public Health Wales NHS Trust who occupy the building.
Much of the 2005 Doctor Who episode "The End of the World" was filmed in the Temple Hall and other parts of the building. The location was used to represent a space station five billion years in the future. Temple Hall was also used in the 2007 episode "Gridlock" and the 2008 episode "The Fires of Pompeii". It was used again in the episodes "Cold Blood", "Let's Kill Hitler" and "Nightmare in Silver."