A 999-year lease of the site was taken up by the Baptists of Old Bethania Baptist Chapel, Pendre, from the owners Thomas Bowen and Mary Anne Bowen of Carmarthen and their son and daughter-in-law – John Bowen and Elizabeth Bowen. The lease was taken up on 25th March 1843 at a cost of £5 per annum. Daniel Evans, a Cardigan architect, designed the proposed new chapel building for £2. The building work began in earnest in August/September 1845. Enoch Jones of Llangoedmor was probably the chief mason, because he charged two shillings a day, and the other masons were only paid one shilling and eight pence a day. The other masons were: William Jenkins of Catherine Row; Benjamin Jenkins of Greenfield Row; Thomas Lewis of Pwllhai; John Davies of Catherine Row; and Titus Lewis of St. Dogmaels. Eighteen pence a day was paid to the following labourers: Thomas Richard Harries of Catherine Row; John Williams of the Quay; Daniel Jones of Carrier’s Lane; David Lewis of the Burrows; David Davies of Capel Bach; Stephen Owens of Pwllhai; John Jones of Pendre; and David Williams of Oraen’s Court; and James Francis of Pontycleifion and his hire carts for four shillings a day. A Crown (5s.) was paid to the architect Daniel Evans for:
“…Marking out Foundations of Chapel and inspecting ditto as agreed by Mr J. M. Thomas…”
£20 was also paid to the architect for overseeing the work. The man responsible for paying the workers and for overseeing the acquisition and use of stone, timber etc. was Henry Davies. £1001. 14s. 1½d. went through his hands during the construction work. The man who held the money in the Cardigan branch of the North & South Wales Bank was “…Mr. David Rees, Merchant, Cardigan, one of the Deacons of Bethania…” Morgan Rees oversaw payments from April 1843 to August 1845 i.e. before building commenced, and then Henry Davies from the end of August 1845 until February 6th 1847. On 19th September 1845, the following item appeared in the ‘Pembrokeshire Herald‘:
“…In consequence of the old Baptist Chapel not being sufficiently large enough for the increasing congregation, subscriptions have been for some time set on foot, towards erecting a more commodious place of worship, and a site of ground situated in William Street, has been purchased. Thursday week was the day appointed for laying the first stone of the new edifice. The building committee met at an early hour at the old chapel, and proceeded to the ground in the following procession:—
The Serjeant-at-Mace with his staff; Master and Mistress of the Sunday School, the Children two-and-two, the Building Committee two-and-two, the Architect with the plan of the building, the Contractors carrying a trowel, mallet, square, and level, the Treasurer with the keys on the Bible, the Deacons, and various Pastors in the neighbourhood. On arriving on the ground, every arrangement had been made for the ceremonies when the gold, silver, and copper coins of the realm were deposited, and sealed in a glass bottle, the gift of Stephen Williams, Esq. The copper plate with the necessary inscription being laid, the mortar was spread by master Jones, grandson of the Treasurer. The stone was elevated a few feet, then set and lowered into its proper situation being struck three times with the mallet, by the Treasurer. A hymn, which was written for the occasion, by a Mr. Thomas, was sung in three voices by Messrs. Jones, Phillips, and Williams; after which an appropriate address was delivered by the Rev. Mr. Rees, from The 25th chapter of Exodus, and the viii verse, when the procession departed to the New Inn, and they were suitably entertained by the hostess…”
On 3rd April 1846 the ‘Pembrokeshire Herald’ reported that the building:
“… will be delayed some time in consequence of it being found that the openings left to receive the window frames are too small. The defect was discovered by some Rev. gentleman recently inspecting the building. The committee have adopted the alteration pointed out by them. No blame is attached to the architect whose plans were made agreeable to the committee, who left with him two other plans for the present design to be made from. The building is in a forward state…”
The formal lease was dated 1st October 1846. Henry Davies was then a Deacon of the Chapel and the Treasurer. From 6th February 1847 David Rees took over as Treasurer of the building works “…from the above date until the chapel was completed…” By 26th March 1847 it was noted that the work far exceeded Daniel Evans’ original estimate. On 11th June 1847 the following item appeared in the ‘Pembrokeshire Herald‘:
“…New BAPTIST CHAPEL.—The contract for painting was let a few days ago to Mr. John Miles, of Cardigan. It is expected that all the works will be completed by the latter end of August, so that it will be open for divine worship about the first week in September…”
The plaster-work had been completed by 9th July 1847 when it was described as following in the ‘Pembrokeshire Herald‘:
“…NEW BAPTIST CHAPEL.—Mr. Rees, of Fishguard, the contractor for the plasterer’s work on the above chapel, having finished the centre-piece, ceiling, and cornices, and the scaffolding been taken down, the workmanship can be seen to advantage, and reflects much credit on the designs, and more particularly on the execution of the work, which is done in a masterly and workmanlike manner. The dwarf wall, in front of the chapel, is nearly finished, and we believe the committee will let the iron railing and gates be executed by public competition. The chapel is expected to be opened for divine service in about six weeks time…”
On 10th September 1847 the same publication noted the following:
“…NEW BAPTIST CHAPEL, CARDIGAN- This building is near its completion. The contract for the iron railing and gates has been taken by Mr. David Davies, of the Bridge, which will be completed in the course of a few weeks. The plastering lately executed by Mr. Rees, of Fishguard, from the designs of Mr. Evans, architect, is executed in a highly satisfactory manner, and is much admired by visitors…”
The new chapel opened its’ doors on 27th/28th October 1847. The final cost of the building was £2000. Rev. David Rees had been the Minister of Old Bethania Chapel on Pendre, and was the first Minister of the new chapel building. On 29th October 1847 the ‘Pembrokeshire Herald‘ printed the following item:
“…The new Baptist chapel was opened on Wednesday afternoon by a prayer meeting and in the evening, two sermons were preached, in Welsh, one by the Rev. Mr. Jones, Merthyr, and the other by the Rev. Mr. Roberts, Rhymney. On Thursday, the chapel was open for divine service at 10 o’clock, when the Rev. Daniel Davies, Swansea, preached an English sermon, from 2 Cor. vi, 13 after which a collection was made, in aid of the expenses of building, which was liberally contributed to. The house, which was from the design of Mr. Daniel Evans, of this place, is decorated with various artifices, executed in a masterly style. It is allowed to be one of the largest chapels, of the connection, in the Principality, and it was so exceedingly filled that numbers were compelled to remain outside or return. The town was very full in consequence of several coming from the larger towns of this and the adjoining counties…”
On 27th July 1850 Rev. David Rees, who had been the Baptist Minister in Cardigan for 13 years, died aged 54. During his ministry at Cardigan he had baptised 273 people. On 2nd August 1850 the ‘Pembrokeshire Herald‘ printed the following item:
“…CARDIGAN.—The Baptist connection in this town have sustained a great loss by the demise of the Rev David Rees on the 27th ult., having been many years’ the pastor of the Baptist Chapel, at Cardigan. The congregation have’ lost an upright minister and a good and faithful servant He was interred on the 31st ult., agreeable to his request, in the Baptist burial ground, at Penybryn. The Rey. Timothy Thomas, according to the directions of the deceased, preached upon the occasion, from the 17th chapter of St. Luke, 10th verse. He was followed to his last resting place by his numerous friends and admirers. The rev. deceased was so much respected that the principal shops in the town were closed as the funeral procession passed…”
Rev. Evan Thomas (1818-93) became the Minister in October 1850, preaching his first sermon at Bethania on 22nd December 1850, and remaining until 1854. In 1851 there were 560 attendees on a Sunday morning, 250 afternoon scholars and 800 attendees for the evening service. On 6th February 1853 Thomas Jones, a Deacon of the chapel, died aged 81. Deacons J. M. Thomas and Isaac Thomas also died that year. In 1854 Rev. Evan Thomas moved back to Monmouthshire to be the Minister at Siloh, Tredegar, and he was succeeded as Minister at Bethania by the Rev. Daniel Davies, aged 58, who was blind. His ministry here is said to have lasted for five years, during which time he became a Doctor of Divinity, and baptised 165 members. On 19th February 1855 Joshua Morgan Thomas of No. 3 Green Street, a Deacon, died aged 60. In 1857 Rev. Daniel Davies suffered a stroke whilst preaching in Newtown, Powys. Rev. Daniel Davies was the Minister until 1859. He died in 1876. On 28th July 1859 the Rhymney Choir gave a concert here. Rev. D. Davies occupied the chair.
In 1863 the Rev. Evan Thomas “Ealing” (b.1844) was ordained and became the Minister of Bethania until 1873. In 1867 a robber stole £4 from the chapel. In June 1867 tenders were sought for re-painting the chapel. Improvements to the building were undertaken in 1868 – on 8th July the chapel was being redecorated to a high standard by John Miles & Son. By the 2nd December 1870 Rev. Evan Thomas of No. 56 Pendre, had been elected to serve as a member of the new Cardigan School Board. He ceased to be the Minister at Bethania in 1873 when he moved to Carmarthen. On 29th December 1875 Alderman John James Jones of No. 3 Bridge Parade, died aged 68. He had been a Baptist Deacon for 38 years.
In 1875 Rev. David Davies (“Dewi Dyfan”) arrived at Bethania near the close of the year and remained the Minister of that chapel until 22nd October 1877 when he moved to Zion, Merthyr Tydfil. He was awarded a valuable time-piece and a writing desk as a parting gift, and Mrs. Davies was given a silver tea and coffee service. Their daughter, Miss Annie Mary Davies, received a Bible, a book, a small silver cruet set and a cake stand. On 1st July 1877 it was resolved to build an English Baptist Chapel on the adjoining land here. On May 6th 1879 Henry Davies of Quay House died aged 75, having been a Deacon of Bethania for 41 years. On 10th July 1880 the following item appeared in the ‘Cardigan Observer‘:
Services in connection with the recognition of the Rev. J. Williams, as pastor of the Welsh Baptist Church, in this town, were held on Tuesday and Wednesday last. The services were commenced on Tuesday night, when the Rev. Seth Jones introduced, and the Revs. D. Dyfan Davies, Merthvr; and Walter Samuel, Liverpool, preached. The formal recognition services took place on Wednesday morning, at 10 o’clock. The Rev. J. Thomas, Carmarthen, introduced, and the Rev. J. Jenkins preached on the nature of the Christian Church, while the Rev. D. Dyfan Davies gave the charge to the new minister, and the Rev. W. Samuel Liverpool, to the Church. At 2 o’clock, a new feature-a kind of welcome meeting-was held, presided over by the veteran Bishop of the district, the Rev. D. George, Caersalem. Appropriate and edifying addresses were given by the following ministers:—Revs. J. Richards, Penpark: J. Lewis, Penuel; W. Haddock, Blaenffos; D. Dyfan Davies, Merthyr; T. Phillips, Verwig; Seth Jones, Blaenwaun; W. Samuel, Liverpool; J. Thomas, Carmarthen; and J. Jenkins, Newport. The venerable chairman performed his task with discretion and ability, and proved himself especially adapted for his post. The meeting was concluded with prayer by the Rev. W. Haddock. At 6 o’clock, Mr. Evans, Cilgerran, introduced, and the Revs. W. Samuel and J. Thomas preached. The meetings throughout were exceedingly well attended, and the preaching was powerful and effective…”
Rev. John Williams became the Minister of Bethania in July 1880 and baptised 10 people in the Teifi on 17th October 1880. On 23rd October 1880 the following note appeared in the ‘Cardigan Observer‘:
“…BAPTISM.—Ten persons were baptised in the river Tivy, at the Netpool, by the Rev. J. Williams, minister of Bethania Baptist Chapel, in this town, on Sunday afternoon last, in the presence of a large concourse of people…”
Rev. John Williams remained Bethania’s Minister until 1929. In 1881 the following persons were Deacons of the chapel: David Owen Jones, No. 3 Bridge Parade; John Williams, Mwldan; J. Evans, St. Mary’s Lane; W. George, North Road; J. Jenkins, St. Mary’s Lane; J. Williams, Bridge End; Thomas Jones, North Road; J. Davies, Ridgeway; Enos George, North Road; Samuel Young, Catherine Row; J. Esau, Pendre; D. Griffiths, Priory Street; Treasurer – Captain David Evans, William Street; Secretary – Enos George. Membership rose from 436 to 458 that year.
On 10th February 1882 a new vestry and schoolroom was opened here, built to plans by John Owen of Liverpool. On 2nd March 1882 the ‘Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser‘ reported that the Vestry was built to meet the demands of the numbers attending the Sunday School. The new vestry contained a library, retiring rooms, vestry, teachers’ rooms, boiler room and other conveniences, built at a cost of £510. The plan was presented to Revd. John William as a token of respect, by John Owens, a Liverpool architect. The inside was suitably decorated by Mrs. R. E. Rees, who was also responsible for collecting £20–£30 towards the expenses. Master Johnny Evans George sold over 100 tickets towards the tea and concert. Decorations were provided byMiss Evans, Penrallt-Cadwgan; Mrs. Williams, the minister’s wife; Capt. J. O. Griffiths; Mrs. Llewellyn (The Globe); Mr. Richards; Mr. David Thomas, Northgate Terrace; Mr. John Bowen, Quay St.; Mrs. Thomas, Mwldan; Captain Evans, New Inn, William St. Catering was provided byMiss Evans, Penrallt-Cadwgan; Mrs. J. O. Griffiths, Emerald House, Pendre; Mrs. Thomas Griffiths, Pendre; Mrs. Esau, Pendre; Mrs. James, Northgate Terrace; Miss Mary Ann Thomas, Quay Street.
In 1882 Rev. John Williams was elected onto the Cardigan School Board. In 1883 Thomas Jones, High Street, succeeded David Evans as Secretary. A surprise religious census in 1884 showed 237 attending in the morning and 436 attending in the evening. On 2nd May 1884 tenders were sought for repainting the interior of the chapel. On 28th May 1887 the following appeared in the ‘Cardigan Observer‘:
“…CONGREGATIONAL SINGING AT BETHANIA. On Wednesday last, at Bethania Chapel, in this town, the choral union of the Baptist churches of Cardigan, St. Dogmells, Penypark, Ferwig, Gerizim, Blaenwenen, Cilfowyr, Ramoth, Blaenffos, Penybryn, Cilgerran, Penuel, Ebenezer, and Moylgrove, met for the purpose of being trained in congregational music, under the leadership of Mr. Dan. Davies, Dowlais. Mr. Davies’ abilities as a leader are so well known that it is unnecessary to dwell upon them; suffice to say, that he discharged his duty in a very satisfactory manner.
In 1887 average Sunday attendance was estimated to be:- a. m. – 228; p. m.- 330. There were then six Deacons – David Owen Jones; J. Evans; J. Jenkins; John Williams; J. Davies and Enos George (Secretary). Captain D. Evans was the Treasurer. In 1888 J. R. Griffiths, Cardigan Board School, Pendre, became the Financial Secretary and William Jenkins of St. Mary’s Lane became responsible for the choir that year. In August 1888 the Welsh Baptist Union held their meeting at Cardigan. A Christmas Day concert held here was poorly attended, despite the presence of a choir of 73 voices. In February 1889 Thomas Thomas, Pendre, became the Minutes Secretary until 1899. In 1889 Rev. John Williams was elected onto the new Cardiganshire County Council. By 1892 six new Deacons had been elected – T. Bowen, Catherine Row; Dan Evans, Tregibby; John Davies, Stepside; O. T. Owen, Pendre; Thomas Thomas, Pendre; T. Griffiths, William Street. Enos George and David Owen Jones were the Secretaries and Captain David Evans was the Treasurer. On 30th April 1893 Rev. John Williams baptised three young women in the Teifi. In April 1894 Rev. John Williams became a manager of the proposed new Cardigan Intermediate School. In 1894 Rev. John Williams became the Chairman of Cardiganshire County Council. In late May 1894 the Cardiganshire and Carmarthenshire Baptists held their annual meeting here.
On 30th September 1894 the chapel re-opened after a major refit by Owen Beynon Evans of Pendre. Denominational arguments led to Rev. John Williams resigning as a manager of the proposed Cardigan Intermediate School on 15th February 1895, but in 1897 he was elected onto the Secondary School Board. In March 1895 the local annual Baptist Cymanfa was held at Bethania. In 1895 Rev. John Williams was the Chairman of the Baptist Assembly. On 29th October 1897 the congregation celebrated 50 years at their chapel. A procession was held, led by Rev. John Williams and Rev. George Hughes. On 30th October 1897 the following report appeared in the ‘Cardigan Observer’:
“…JUBILEE MEETINGS OF BETHANIA BAPTIST CHAPEL, CARDIGAN.
On Tuesday evening and Wednesday last meetings were held at Bethania Welsh Baptist Chapel, in this town, for the purpose of celebrating the jubilee of opening their present commodious chapel. The Baptist cause was established in the town at the close of the last century, and since, the following have been pastors of the church, all of which, except three having departed this life:—Revs. Wm. Williams, John Herring, E. Jones, Wm. Jones, — Edwards, D. Rees, Evan Thomas (afterwards of Newport), Daniel Davies (the blind preacher), Evan Thomas (now of Ealing), D. Dyfan Davies, and John Williams (the present pastor). The walls of the vestry-room, in which tea was provided for visitors, was, on Wednesday, very tastefully decorated with banners and art muslin, and the tables with cut flowers, flowers in pots, and other ornaments. Tea was served out on Wednesday by a host of ladies to a large number of visitors from the county. At the back of the pulpit was stretched across a garland, bearing the following Scriptural text: Hyd yma y cynorthwyodd yr Arglwydd myni.”
At last Sunday evening’s service the Rev. J. Williams, the energetic pastor of the church, preached a very able and eloquent sermon, having reference to the event they were about to celebrate -the jubilee of the new chapel, and the events and changes which had taken place during the period. Comparatively few of the present members of the church were among those who formed the procession from the old to the new chapel in 1847. There still exists a copy of the placard announcing the opening of the new chapel, which has been preserved, placed on a card, and varnished by Mr D. O. Jones, one of the deacons, and which had been handed down to him by his father, the late Alderman J J. Jones, who discharged the office of deacon, which is as-follows New Bethany Baptist Chapel, Cardigan, will be opened for Divine Service on Wednesday and Thursday, October 27th and 28th, 1847, when sermons suitable for the occasion will be preached by the Revs. D. Davies (Swansea), John Jones, Hugh Jones (Carmarthen), E. Roberts (lorwerth Glan Aled), John Williams (Aberystwyth), Pugh (Pater), Dd. Jones and W. Reynolds (Middle Mill, Pem). Services to commence at 6 p.m. on the first day, and at 10, 2, and 6 on the second day. A collection will be made at each service towards liquidating the debt remaining on the chapel. An English sermon will be preached at 10 o’clock on Thursday.”
On Tuesday evening, at 7 o’clock, the first service took place, which was introduced by the Rev. J. Price, Verwig, and the Revs. R. Jones, New Quay, and E. Watkins, Cilgerran, preached two excellent and impressive sermons, which were listened to with wrapped attention by a large congregation. On Wednesday morning at 10 o’clock, the introductory portion was taken by the Rev. E. Watkins, Cilgerran, and the Revs. J. LI. Morris, Jabez, and J. Price, Verwig, preached very effectively to an appreciative congregation. Soon after 2 o’clock an imposing Procession was formed at Pensarnau, which, preceded by a magnificent banner and a number of ministers and most prominent members, perambulated the principal streets of the town two abreast, numbering about 1000. The children carried bannerettes, and several sections of the procession sang, but that could not be effectively performed owing to the great distance over which it extended. Following the perambulation a public meeting was held in the chapel, presided over by Mr W. J. Williams (mayor), who, together with Messrs E. L. Griffiths, John James, and John Williams delivered very stirring and excellent addresses, bearing on the present day duties of the church. The next meeting was held at 6 o’clock, which was introduced by the Rev. Anthony Thomas. The chair was occupied by Mr D. O. Jones, J.P., Bridge-parade, one of the deacons of the church, who remembers the removal from the old to the new chapel. A hymn having been sung, the chairman called on the Rev. Hugh Jones, Blaenywaun, to speak on Our principles (Ein Hegwyddorion).
Prefacing his remarks, he said he was thankful for the Divine protection extended to the church at Bethania for the last 50 years. There were but few present who witnessed the opening of the present chapel, and there were probably but few who could witness the next jubilee. Every denomination had its distinctive belief, which separated them one from another, and when they are lost by any denomination their mission to the world was lost. Sometime ago a series of articles had appeared in a quarterly magazine, to which able men from all denominations had been invited to write on their distinctive principles. This was done, and a flood of light had been thrown on the questions at issue. Some were prone to think that the time was fast drawing nigh when the distinctive creeds and differences would disappear. He did not coincide with that, but thought the differences give more energy in the different sections of the church to fight the common enemy. They pretty nearly coincided in matters of belief, but the difference came in in the administration of the ordinances. The Baptist held that those who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, and were immersed, only had a right to partake of the Lord’s Supper. As regards the question of baptism the Baptists stood alone, and a protest against Popery, whereas the other Nonconformist denominations, as well as the Church of England, coincided with the Roman Catholics on baptism. Hence there was but Baptist churches in the country able to protest and withstand firmly against the inroads of the Church of Rome in Wales. The Church of England admitted the principle of immersion, but allowed sprinkling when children were weak, and all which were baptised by them seemed to be weak (laughter); sprinkling except the Baptists had become the rule and not the exception. Next he compared the various church policies, and pronounced the Baptist as the best and the only Scriptural one.
A hymn having been sung, the Rev. G. Hughes was called to speak on “Our Responsibilities.” They were numerous, and referred particularly to the fact that they were responsible to God for the truth vouchsafed to them as a body of Christians to teach to the world at large. (2) To men as sinners—to teach and enlighten them in the particular truth entrusted to them as a denomination, —they had a message to the world, to hold forth the principles and truths of the gospel, in their simplicity. (3) To bring up the rising generation in their particular tenets. (4) To support Home and Foreign Missions, as their connexion were the pioneers in modern mission. (5) Pray earnestly for the success of their principles…”
On 21st July 1899 the chapel was sold, presumably to the congregation. In November 1899 Thomas Thomas ceased to be the Minutes Secretary, and was succeeded in the position by David Williams. A new organ by Messrs. Peter Conacher & Co. of Huddersfield, was dedicated by Dr. Roland Rogers at the chapel on 16th May 1900. It had cost £380. The pulpit and sedd fawr were replaced at the same time to designs by architects Morgan & Son of Carmarthen at a cost of just over £440. The contractors were John Evans, Bryntivy, and Evan Evans of Napier Street. There were eight deacons in 1900 – David Owen Jones; J. Williams; J. Davies; Enos George; Thomas Bowen; John Davies; O. T. Owen and T. Griffiths. The site was advertised for sale in June 1900, though the lease was protected. Deacon O. T. Owens of Pendre died on Christmas Day 1901 aged 47. In March 1902, during a Sunday evening service, three males and six females were baptised by Rev. J. Williams, who called for any other sincere candidates to offer themselves. A young man in the audience stepped forward to be baptised, and many of the congregation were moved to tears. The chapel front was re-rendered in 1902 by Messrs. Michael & James for £60, to plans by George Morgan of Carmarthen, architect. A number of new Deacons were chosen in 1902 – James James, Rhoshill; Thomas Jones, Priory Street; David Davies, Tynewydd; John Williams, Pendre; J. R. Davies, Cwrt; Evan Owen, Heathfield; and Captain J. O. Griffiths, Pendre. In 1902 Rev. John Williams baptised 43, restored 7 and admitted 25 by letter. The church then had 520 members. In 1904 Rev. John Williams was the Chairman of the Baptist Union. He baptised 27 in 1904. In May 1905 large crowds attended the local Baptist Cymanfa at Bethania. During 1905 Rev. John Williams baptised 29. In March 1906 the presentation of an illuminated address and tea marked Rev. John Williams’ 25 years as Minister. The new entrance from Priory Street had been completed by 26th July 1907 and was opened by Rev. John Williams on 15th January 1908, with a silver key.
Three new Deacons were chosen in 1908 – John Llewelyn, Dolwerdd; J. E. Jones, Stafford House, High Street; and D. Williams, Ynys.
In July 1910 the congregation presented Rev. John Williams with a roll-top desk and a set of silver cutlery to mark his 30 years as their Minister. In October 1910 long-serving chapel member Samuel Young was expelled for being a licensee. In 1911 Rev. John Williams was elected Chairman of the Cardigan Poor Law Union and was re-elected annually until his death. Four new Deacons were chosen in 1912 – John Thomas, Gordon Terrace; Thomas Davies, Greenfield Square; D. Williams, Greenfield Row; and James Evans, Haulfryn, Park Place. On 22nd May 1914 tenders were requested for building new classrooms and additions to the vestry to designs by John Teifion James Williams – the son of the minister. In 1914 Rev. John Williams became the Chairman of Cardiganshire County Council for the second time. The new vestry extension was opened on 3rd March 1915 having been erected at a cost of £600 by John Williams & Sons, Felingynllo, Llangoedmor. A severe gale on 27th December 1915 blew the crests off the roof, and on to the new vestry. In 1916 Rev. John Williams was elected a County Alderman. On 2nd February 1920 John Evans of No. 9 Castle Street, died in the vestry. On 28th April 1920 an Eisteddfod was held here. In February 1922 new Deacons were ordained – David Daniel, Penlan; William Prosser, Priory Terrace; E. M. Jones, Brynhedydd; and John Gwynne, Cross House. In March 1922 David Williams ceased to be the Minutes Secretary. E. M. Jones then became Minutes Secretary. A War Memorial tablet was unveiled here on 23rd August 1922, with the names of 18 members of Bethania who died during the 1914-18 War. In 1924 Rev. John Williams warned that he would resign in the near future. In 1925 Rev. John Williams baptised 31 people. In 1926 it was noted that the chapel could seat 900. In May 1926 E. M. Jones moved to Morriston and therefore ceased to be Minutes Secretary. Joseph Prosser then became the Minutes Secretary. In June 1927 the Carmarthenshire & Cardiganshire Baptist Association held their annual meeting in Cardigan. On 2nd September 1927 rumours were circulated about the forthcoming retirement of Rev. John Williams, Minister. These were confirmed, though he remained the Honorary Minister alongside Rev. Esaia Williams, who came to
the town in 1928. In August 1929 Rev. Esaia Williams was inducted as the new Minister. On 28th October 1929 Rev. John Williams, the Minister here since 1880, died. During his ministry here he had baptised almost 700 people. He was succeeded by Rev. Esaia Williams – the Minister here until 1949. New Deacons were chosen that year – John Hopkins, Awelfryn; David Jenkins, Hillside; and Griffith G. Davies, William Street. There were 482 members here in 1929.
In 1931 Johnny Davies, Thomas Llewelyn and William Adams became Deacons. On 20th November 1933 senior Deacon James James, 72, of Rhoshill, Llangoedmor, died. On 28th June 1934 a Memorial Tablet to the late Rev. John Williams was unveiled here. The tablet was executed by Messrs. D. Jenkins & Son, monumental sculptors, Station Road. Joseph Prosser ceased to be the Minutes Secretary at the end of 1934 and in January 1935 W. J. Morgan became the Minutes Secretary. On 6th May 1935 a special service was held at Bethania marking the Silver Jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary. On 28th January 1936 an inter-denominational memorial service for King George V was held here. The chapel re-opened on 16th August 1936, following a refit by John Teifion James Williams, architect. In 1937 W. J. Morgan, Picton Davies, Ben T. Jones and J. G. Jenkins became Deacons. On 8th August 1942 a National Cymanfa Ganu was held here. In 1944 the Baptist Assembly met here. On 9th June 1946 a special service was held here to commemorate the end of World War II. On 26th October 1947 centenary celebrations were held here. A chapel history was written that year. In August 1948 Rev. Esaia Williams was elected the Vice President of the Welsh Baptist Union, meaning that he would be expected to be the President of the Union for 1949-50. On 20th April 1949 Rev. Esaia Williams collapsed in the pulpit during the performance of an oratorio and died, aged 60. He has suffered from heart problems for some time. On 25th May 1949 and 31st May 1950 Cymanfa Ganu events were held here. In September 1950 Joseph “Joe” Lewis became a Deacon.
On 29th August 1951 Rev. D. Osborne Thomas became the Minister until 1968. In 1952 the Deacons were: David Williams, Greenfield Row; William Prosser, North Road; G. G. Davies, William Street; Thomas Llewelyn, Dolwerdd; J. J. Davies, Newtown; William Adams, Priory Street; W. J. Morgan, School House, Pendre; Picton G. Davies, Sarnau House; T. Vivian Edwards, Newtown; David A. Williams, Brooklea; Thomas James, Llysteg; John R. Prosser, Williams Terrace; Griffith J. James, Finch’s Square; William Morgan, Adelphi, Pendre; and Joseph Lewis, Maeshenffordd. There were 417 members that year. In 1952 Deacon William Prosser died. On 2nd September 1953 a meeting of Baptist elders for South Cardiganshire was held here. On 26th May 1954 a Cymanfa Ganu was held here. On 31st October 1957 a Cymanfa Ganu was held here. On 18th April 1962 the regional Baptist Cymanfa Ganu was held here. On 5th January 1963 there was a minor fire here. On 1st April 1964 the regional Cymanfa Ganu was held here. In February 1965 Thomas Llewelyn of Dolwerdd celebrated 35 years as Treasurer, but died in July that year aged 85. On 28th April 1965 the regional Baptist Cymanfa Ganu was held here. On 3rd May 1968 it was announced that Rev. D. Osborne Thomas had accepted another calling – to Fishguard and his farewell meeting was held in July 1968.
On 18th April 1969 Rev. Milton G. Jenkins became the new Minister. On 28th March 1972 a Celebrity Concert was held here in aid of the Swimming Pool Fund. The chapel re-opened on 30th April 1975 following extensive renovations. On 20-23rd June 1982 the regional Baptist Cymanfa Ganu was held here. The chapel became a listed building in 1992. In June 1994 Rev. Milton G. Jenkins installed three new Deacons – Elfair James, Vince Davies and Charles Williams. On 11-15th September 1994 the Welsh Baptist Union Annual Meeting was held here with Rev. Milton G. Jenkins the President of the Union for the year.
A very successful Eisteddfod-winner’s concert was given here on 25th October 1997. In January 1998 Rev. Irfon Caradog Roberts was installed as the new Minister here and at Capel Mair Congregational Chapel, Feidrfair. On 1st July 1998 the chapel secured a grant for a refit. On 9th September 2000 Joseph “Joe” Lewis received a plaque commemorating his 50 years service as a Deacon. On 16th September 2000 an ‘Owain Glyndwr Commemorative Concert’ was held here. On 22nd April 2001 and 24th April 2005 the local Baptist Cymanfa Ganu was held here. On 28th June 2005 Joseph (“Joe”) Lewis of Feidrhenffordd died aged 87. He had been a Deacon of Bethania for 55 years. In September 2006 repairs and redecoration were conducted to the façade. On 22nd April 2007 a local Baptist Cymanfa Ganu was held here. On 13th June 2010 a meeting was held here regarding the history of local chapels. On 18th February 2012, Helen Shapiro gave a gospel concert here.
The chapel was described by CADW in 1992:
“…1846-7 Baptist Chapel by Daniel Evans (1786-1852) of Cardigan.
Built for £2000, Evans was paid £2. Iron railings by D Davies, The Bridge, Cardigan, plaster by Thomas Rees of Fishguard. Improvements are recorded in 1868, the vestry 1882, organ 1900 and alterations to the entrance 1908.
Classical style with unpainted stucco north end façade and blue lias rubble 2-storey, 4-window sides. Rear schoolroom and vestry added 1882. Slate deep-eaved pedimental roof with paired timber brackets.
Open pedimental front over broad segmental arched 2-storey, 3-window centre, and narrow windowless rusticated side bays. Centre has arched windows above, broader middle window, originally with glazing bars, replaced with leaded glazing in early C20. Arched hoodmoulds. Middle window was tripartite sash, is set higher and has blank tympanum with stucco fan. Ground floor has rectangular window each side of big Greek Doric pedimented porch, paired columns each side and pilaster responds. Double panelled doors within and original traceried overlight. Cornice carried across from porch, without triglyphs, and across slightly advanced outer bays, which have rusticated pilasters each floor, ground floor flattened-arched recess with pilaster jambs and rustication above, and first floor mid-height blank recesses in rusticated wall with cambered heads, sills; ‘Baptist’ and ‘Chapel’ in raised letters. Under main arch of centre is scroll-pedimented plaque ‘Bethania 1847’.
Sides have arched sashes above and 12-pane sashes below. Rear has open pediment with paired arched recesses below and 2 arched windows. Single storey 1882 vestry, also in blue lias obscures ground floor and is gable ended to west. Arched windows.
Forecourt has fine spearhead railings and matching double gates. Openwork gatepiers and stanchions, the piers corniced with urns, the stanchions with anthemion finials. Later C19 iron rails to rear of churchyard, on to Priory Street.
INTERIOR – Little altered with rich plaster cornice, flat ceiling and festive centre lozenge with arabesques of classical plant motifs around a centre domelet. Box pews, gallery on Roman Doric cast-iron columns, with entablature and timber panelled gallery front. 1900 pulpit and set fawr. Organ by P Conacher and Co, Huddersfield, 1900…”
ADDITIONAL (2001) – Front entrance gate formerly had decorated iron overhang with 4-sided lamp to head.
Pembrokeshire Herald 1845; 1847
Slater’s Directory 1850; 1868
The Religious Census of 1851
Poster – Rhymney Choir Concert, Bethany Chapel 28/07/1859
Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser 1866; 1868; 1870; 1875; 1877; 1880; 1882; 1884; 1887; 1893-95
1897; 1899-1902; 1905-10; 1913-15; 1920; 1922; 1927; 1929; 1932-34; 1936-37; 1939-41
1947-49; 1951; 1963; 1965; 1968; 1975; 1994; 1997-98; 2000; 2005; 2007; 2009
Kelly’s Directory of South Wales 1884; 1914; 1926
Cardigan Observer 1884
O. S. Map 1887 etc.
A Guide to Cardigan & District, William Edward Yerward James 1899
Poster – Queen Victoria Memorial Service, Bethania 02/02/1901
Programme – Cymanfa Cerddorol, Bethania 15/05/1912; 20/05/1914
Programme – Programme – Singing Festival, Bethania 01/06/1932
Pembrokeshire Telegraph 28/12/1933
Members’ Card – Bethania Youth Group 18/10/1935
Programme – King George V Memorial Service, Bethania 28/01/1936
Programme – ‘Creation’, Bethania Chapel 18/01/1939;
Programme – Competitive Meeting 24/02/1939
Programme – Mayor’s Sunday, Bethania Chapel 12/11/1939
Programme – Cymanfa Ganu Genedlaethol, Bethania Chapel 08/08/1942
Bethania, Aberteifi, R Edwards 1947
Programme – Cymanfa Ganu, Bethania Baptist Chapel 26/05/1949; 31/05/1950
Annual Report – Bethania Baptist Chapel 1952
Programme – Elders of South Ceredigion, Bethania 02/09/1953
Programme – Cymanfa Ganu, Bethania 26/05/1954; 31/10/1957; 18/04/1962; 01/04/1964; 28/04/1965;
Poster & Programme – Celebrity Concert, Bethania Chapel 28/03/1972
The Gateway to Wales, W J Lewis 1990
Those Were The Days Vol. 2, Donald Davies 1992
Buildings of Architectural or Historic Interest – Cardigan, CADW 1992
Poster & Programme – Civic Concert, Bethania 25/10/1997
A G M Documents – Menter Aberteifi, Bethania 11/06/1998; 16/06/1999; 15/06/2000; 31/05/2001
Leaflet – Pilgrims & Preachers Trail 2000
Ticket & Programme – Civic Concert, Bethania 16/09/2000.
Poster – Capeli Dyffryn Teifi, Bethania Baptist Chapel 13/06/2010
© Glen K Johnson 28/05/2013