by  • July 16, 2013 • Chapel, Modern, Pembrokeshire, Period, Post-Medieval, Site Type, St. Dogmaels • 9 Comments


    The 1745 date-stone re-set at Blaenwaun, September 2009 (c) Glen K Johnson

    The 1745 date-stone re-set at Blaenwaun, September 2009 (c) Glen K Johnson

    The first chapel on this site was built in 1745 to replace an earlier meeting house at Rhosgerdd nearby. It was a small building with a thatched roof and no gallery. A date-stone was positioned on the wall. There were 27 members in the first congregation, and Rev. David Thomas was the first Minister. In 1760 a major religious revival at Blaenwaun saw a great increase in membership and regular applications for baptism. In 1766-68 the Wesleyan Methodists met here on two Sundays a month, before establishing Ebenezer Wesleyan Chapel at Pwllhai, Cardigan. The Minister, Rev. David Thomas, died in 1773.

    Rev. David Thomas was succeeded by Rev. Lewis Thomas, who was the Minister until his death in 1788. He was assisted by another Cilfowyr minister named David Evans. A gallery was added to the chapel in 1777. Modifications were carried out at the same time, and a date-stone read “T. S. P. 1777 H”. Simon James was baptised here in March 1786 and began preaching near Llangloffan, close to where he lived, but assisted in Blaenywaun. Rev. Lewis Thomas, Minister, died in 1788.

    Old Blaenywaun, built 1795, as it appeared in 1885 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    Old Blaenywaun, built 1795, as it appeared in 1885 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    In 1788 Rev. David Rees became the Minister. In the autumn of 1788 Evan Owen, David Lewis and Thomas Rees were ordained Deacons. Preachers on that occasion were William Williams, George Rees and Henry Dafydd. In 1793 Dafydd Phillips was baptised here, aged 21, and later returned as the Minister. In 1794, 143 members of the congregation were baptised within a period of nine months. These included Titus ap Lewis, son of former minister Rev. Lewis Thomas. On March 5th 1795 the chapel became independent of Cilfowyr Baptist Chapel, to which it had previously been connected. The fellows who preached on that occasion were Titus ap Lewis, Dafydd Evan of Cilfowyr and Henry Dafydd. That year the chapel was rebuilt to the size of 43ft. by 26ft., to accommodate the 237 members. The new chapel was completed in 1796. That year Simon James received a letter of release to America from Blaenywaun. In 1796 David Roberts, Roger Nicholas and Stephen Griffiths, Treclun, were appointed to the office of deacon. On 15th November 1796 Evan Owen and one or two members left due to a disagreement over paying tithes, and started their own chapel at Soan, Cippyn.  The chapel records refer to this as follows:

    Brother Evan Owen has gone for some reason between him and the church, and one or two with him, wishing for all of the members to cease paying tithes, But as the church cannot agree with him, nor with those of the same opinion as him, he has decided to leave the church community and go hence. The Lord knows what the outcome shall be, and in his time he will show it. These left on November 15th 1796…”

    On 24th January 1798 Rev. Titus Lewis (b. Cilgerran 21/02/1773) of Pentre, Bridell, son of former Minister Lewis Thomas, became the Minister. He had compiled a history of Blaenywaun and Rhosgerdd from 1706 to July 10th 1795. Also on 24th January 1798 Dafydd Robert, Roger Nicholas and Stephen Griffiths, Deacons, were ordained to conduct ministerial duties. Rev. Titus Lewis left for Carmarthen in 1800, but returned here to preach on two Sundays every month. On 24th May 1800 Deacon David Lewis died aged 67. In 1800 the Baptist Cymanfa was held at Blaenywaun. On 17th November 1800 Rev. Titus Lewis received a license to marry Elizabeth Havard at Carmarthen. In 1801 William Richards and Joseph Rees of Hendre were made Deacons. The latter died in 1803 aged 33. On 24th January 1805 Rev. David Phillips (b. 1772) of Hendre became the Minister, jointly with Rev. Titus Lewis. On the same date William Richards; John George of Ffynnoncoronau, Bridell; Thomas Llewelyn of Esgair and Daniel Davies of St Dogmaels became Deacons. On 1st May 1811 Rev. Titus Lewis died aged 38, and Rev. David Phillips became sole Minister.

    On 27th May 1812 Roger Nicholas, mariner, a Deacon, died aged 74. In 1813 the congregation had Ty’r Bont Baptist Chapel built in the village as a chapel of ease. On 18th May 1815 during a sermon, the wife of Thomas George of Bridell died in the gallery, the body was carried outside and then the sermon continued. On that same day in 1815 Thomas George of Glanllynan and John Griffiths of Treclyn became Deacons. In June 1822 Rev. Dafydd Phillips sailed to Cardigan Settlement at St. John’s, New Brunswick, Canada, on the “Active” of Cardigan, with three members of his congregation. He returned in early August. In 1822 Rev. David Rees paid £97 for land for extending the cemetery. On 15th July 1824 John George of Graig, Newcastle Emlyn, and John Jones, Rehobeth, were appointed assistant Ministers for the Blaenywaun circuit. In 1824 the congregation had a chapel built at Penuel, Cemaes. In 1824 a Deacon named David Robert, died aged 85. On 25th December 1829 Rev. Richard Davies became joint Minister. On 15th August 1830 Deacon Thomas George of Glanllynan died. Rev. Dafydd Phillips died on 15th July 1831, aged 59.

    Rev. William Thomas, Minister of Blaenwaun 1834-48 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    Rev. William Thomas, Minister of Blaenwaun 1834-48 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    On 19th January 1832 Thomas Llewelyn of Esgair, Deacon, died aged 77. On 21st June 1832, new Deacons were ordained, namely William Rees of Granant, Daniel Rees of Gernos, and Thomas Thomas, Thomas Davies and Thomas Richards of St. Dogmaels. In 1833 Rev. Richard Davies was expelled from the church after he had a crisis of faith. In 1834 the “Meeting House” was shown on a map. A Baptist Gymanfa was held at Blaenywaun that year. On 25th September 1834 Rev. William Thomas (b. 1809 Ciliau Bach) became the Minister. He was the first minister of Blaenywaun to come from a college rather than from the congregation. After three months on probation, he was ordained on September 25th 1834. Taking part in the ordination service were Zorobabel Davies; W. R. Davies, Ebenezer; J. Morgan, Blaenffos; J. Watkins, Carmarthen; H. Davies, Llangloffan; and T. Thomas, Newcastle. Rev. William Thomas admitted 87 members through baptism in his first year at Blaenywaun. In 1840 Rev. William Thomas owned shares in the 23 ton Cardigan ship ‘Anne’. On 24th September 1841 Daniel Davies, a popular and pious Deacon, died, having been a Deacon since 1805. By the time of Rev. William Thomas’ departure from the chapel in 1848, he had baptised 419 persons in fourteen years. In the summer of 1848 Rev. William Thomas left for Pisgah, Monmouth.

    Rev. J P Williams, Minister of Blaenwaun 1848-61 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    Rev. J P Williams, Minister of Blaenwaun 1848-61 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    The next Minister at Blaenwaun was the Rev. John Phillips Williams (formerly of Pantycelyn) who took up his post on 29th December 1848. The same year the congregation established Gerazim Baptist Chapel at Cippyn. Rev. J. P. Williams’ induction was held on 20th & 21st February 1849. On 8th June 1849 the following appeared in the ‘Pembrokeshire Herald‘:

    “…On Sunday last, the Rev. J. P. Williams, minister of the Baptist Chapel, Blaenwain, St Dogmells, preached on board the schooner John St. Barbe, of Milford, Captain William Lloyd, lying in the river Tivy, off St. Dogmells, to a numerous congregation. The discourse gave the most universal satisfaction. The reverend gentleman chose his text upon the occasion from the 24th chapter of St. Matthew and the 14th verse. Since the rev. gentleman has been appointed to the chapel, only six months, the congregation is considerably on the increase, and public baptism takes place frequently…”

    On 20th July 1849 the following appeared in the ‘Pembrokeshire Herald‘:

    ST. DOGMELLS — On Sunday last nineteen persons were baptized at Blenwain Chapel by the Rev. Mr. Williams, who at the same time preached an appropriate sermon. So was the number who attended that many were unable to enter the chapel. The congregation at the above chapel has much increased under this gentleman’s pastorship…”

    In 1849 James Phillips of Hendre, Deacon, died aged 40. On 21st November 1849 a number of Deacons were ordained – Thomas Llewelyn of Tredefaid, Llantood; J. Davies, Llwyndafydd; Thomas Griffiths, Bryngwyn; and D. Llewelyn of St. Dogmaels. On 8th September 1850 Elizabeth Williams, daughter of the Minister Rev. John Phillips Williams, died aged 3 weeks. In 1851 there were 567 regular attendees. On 31st October 1851 five members including a Deacon named Thomas Davies, were excommunicated after becoming Unitarians. On 23rd August 1855 Phoebe Williams, daughter of the Minister Rev. J. P. Williams and his wife Mary Williams, died aged 5 days. On 26th November 1858 Thomas Davies, a Deacon for 28 years, died aged 72. In April 1859 there was a religious revival at Blaenwaun. This is illustrated as follows in ‘Seren Gomer’ for May 1859, and shows the happy state of the church at that time:


    A strong and powerful revival broke out in the upper reaches of Pembrokeshire, on the borders of Cardiganshire, in the old respectable and bustling church of Blaenywaun. Since three weeks ago (April 13th), about 100 enquirers have come before the church within the space of a fortnight. Last Sunday was our committal service, when the massive crowd gathered from near and far at the break of dawn, before nine o’clock in the morning, when they had the privileged spectacle of watching the Rev. J. P. Williams, minister of the place, baptising 43 persons professing their faith in the Son of God, in the most proper and worthy manner of honouring the sacrament. He took almost twenty minutes to baptise them all. Five of those baptised were aged from 70 to 82, and four from 60 to 70; others were aged down to 13 years. Eight of their number were promising youngsters. 14 were restored on the same day; one had been relapsed for 40 years. He was baptised 65 years ago. Another had been absent 35, another 20, another 15 etc. Williams had already baptised 70 since the last Assembly (June), and had restored ten back-sliders. There are dozens more enquirers before the church. Prayer meetings were held every night over the period of a month. Returnees are continually turning their faces towards the church. God be praised. “Come on, heavenly fire” etc….”

    On December 19th 1861 Rev. J. P. Williams died aged 44. He had announced his intention to retire on 17th February. He had been assisted in his services by John George of Ffynnoncoronau. During his thirteen years as Minister at Blaenywaun, he had baptised 953 persons.

    On 24th January 1862 John George of Ffynnoncoronau, Bridell, became a Deacon. In February 1862 an intruder broke into the church and stole several items, including the pulpit Bible and hymn book. On 3rd July 1862 William Rees of Granant Isaf died aged 80. He had been a member of the chapel for sixty years, 30 as a Deacon. From 7th October 1862-February 1866, Rev. T. T. Jones was the Minister. He then moved to Abernant, Glamorgan.

    Rev. Isaac Thomas, Minister of Blaenwaun 1868-71 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    Rev. Isaac Thomas, Minister of Blaenwaun 1868-71 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    On 14th May 1866 Deacon John George of Ffynnoncoronau, Bridell, died aged 86. Rev. Isaac Thomas of Birkenhead became the Minister on 1st March 1868 and left on 1st November 1871 for New Caersalem, Glamorgan.

    Rev. Seth Jones, Minister of Blaenwaun 1871-82 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    Rev. Seth Jones, Minister of Blaenwaun 1871-82 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    On September 1st 1871 Rev. Seth Jones arrived to take over the pastorate and remained here until June 1882. On 18th March 1874 the following Deacons were elected: Rees Rees; Thomas Williams; John Llewelyn; D. M. Evans; John Sambrook (Pentood Uchaf); John Griffiths (R’Allt); William Rees (High Street); and Benjamin Williams (Cwmuchaf). In 1875 some land was purchased in order to extend the cemetery. On 19th July 1877 Thomas Llewelyn of Tredefaid, Llantood, a Deacon for 29 years, died aged 81. The following appeared in the ‘Cardigan Observer’ of 1st June 1878:

    The Pembrokeshire Baptist Association will be held at Blaenywaun, near this town, on Tuesday and Wednesday next The usual conference will be held at the chapel at 10 o’clock on Tuesday, and the open air services will commence at 2 o’clock...”

    On 8th June 1878 the same publication produced the following report:

    “…PEMBROKESHIRE BAPTIST ASSOCIATION. The annual Pembrokeshire Baptist Association was held last Tuesday and Wednesday in connection with Blaenywaun Chapel, near this town, and was looked forward to for some time past with no ordinary degree of interest by the inhabitants of this locality. This annual gathering, more generally called by the Welsh name Cymanfa, is always regarded in Wales with a profound and sacred interest, and the presence of such a vast concourse of people at them is clearly typical of Wales as a religious and God-fearing nation. The present Association was not an exception to the general rule, as the influence and hold these services have had upon the community in general is such that a large attendance can always be anticipated It is unnecessary to speak of the religious benefit which accrues from these gatherings to Nonconformists, as the history of the past clearly indicates; but their value at the present time is considerably enhanced when Gospel truths are hidden under the garb of ritualism and ceremonials. The weather on Tuesday proved rather unpropitious, but on Wednesday was most favourable, there being many thousands present. The business of the Association was commenced on Tuesday morning at Blaenywaun Chapel, when a conference of ministers and laymen was held, to consider and adopt measures relating to the Baptist Cause in the county. The conference was also continued during the afternoon. The public services were commenced in the field at 2 o’clock on Tuesday, when the Revs. D. Phillips, Groesgoch, and N. Thomas preached. In the evening at Bethsaida Chapel, the Revs. B. Thomas, Letterston, and O. Griffiths, Biaenconin, preached. Services were also held at the same time in the various Baptist Chapels in the locality. On Wednesday the services were held in the field through- out the day, commencing at 7a.m., when the Revs. J. Jenkins, Hill Park, Haverfordwest, and J. Edwards, Ffynon, preached. At 10 a.m., the Rev. D. Hughes, Capel Gwndwn, introduced, and the Revs. B. Thomas, Narberth, T. Lewis, Risca (in English), and N. Thomas, Cardiff, preached. During this service a collection was made in aid of the Pembrokeshire Home Mission Society. The afternoon service was introduced by the Rev. Theophilus John, Newton, and the Revs. 0. Waldo James, Aberafan, and W.. Jones, Fishguard, preached. In the evening, at 6.30, the Rev. J. Rees, Cwmavon, introduced, and the Revs. E. Davies, Llangloffan, and O. Waldo James preached.. Besides the above, there were also present a large number of ministers and students from the county. The sermons throughout the Association were characterised with much ability, and the delivery in each instance powerful and effective. This was especially the case on Wednesday, when some of the preachers literally chained the attention of the vast  assemblage, producing a visible effect upon the visages of many. May the Divine truths so nobly proclaimed be attended with equally good results upon the minds of the hearers…”

    In July 1880 the wife of Rev. Seth Jones died. In June 1882 Rev. Seth Jones was dismissed and excommunicated for drinking and attending a house of ill repute in Haverfordwest. It transpired that his behaviour had been suspect for some time, but that he had been protected from scandal by his congregation. On 10th June 1882 the following appeared in the ‘Aberystwyth Observer‘:

    MINISTERIAL SCANDAL NEAR CARDIGAN. We have received particulars of a grave religious scandal, which has created intense excitement throughout Cardiganshire. The case is rendered all the more painful from the fact that the chief actor is a gentleman holding the responsible position of pastor of two important chapels in connection with the Baptist denomination. From circumstances which have since transpired, it appears that a few weeks ago the Rev Seth Jones, a Baptist minister in charge of Blaenywaun and Bethsaida Chapels, St Dogmael’s near Cardigan, went on a visit to Haverfordwest. It is believed that while in Ha,verfordwest he gave way to intoxication, and at length so far forgot his sacred calling as to enter a house of ill-fame. While he was in the place a half-sovereign of his money by some means got into the possession of the woman, who refused to return it. The reverend gentleman immediately lodged a complaint with the local police, but either his story appeared improbable or was unsatisfactory, for no proceedings were taken, and ultimately, Mr Jones returned back to St. Dogmael’s. However he may have desired that his escapade may have been buried in oblivion it was not to be, for Nemesis, in the form of the Rev Principal of Haverfordwest Baptist College had heard of Mr Jones’s conduct, and after his return a letter was received by the deacons of the chapel under his care from the Rev. Principal acquainting them of Mr Jones’s disorderly conduct. The deacons consulted together, and finally a deputation (Messrs J. Rees, Hendre, and J. M. Evans, schoolmaster), was sent to Haverfordwest to enquire into the matter. This they did, and the deputation having returned, a society meeting of the members was held on Thursday evening week, when it was elicited that the allegations were no whit worse than the facts, and that the rev gentleman had indeed fallen into wicked ways. It only remained to punish him. On Sunday the Rev Mr Jones ceased to be minister of the place. A resolution was adopted that he be entirely excommunicated, both as pastor and member, and on Sunday the resolution was carried into effect. Much excitement has been caused in the village and neighbourhood owing to the occurrence, and it has been intensified by the fact that the rev gentleman’s brother was but recently similarly treated (in consequence of intemperance). The Rev Seth Jones is a member of the village school board, and was at one time a very popular preacher. It is now alleged that charges of drunkenness and unseemly conduct would have been repeatedly preferred against him but that he was always “cloaked” by the congregations until the present fatal disclosure…”

    Rev. E T Jones, Minister of Blaenwaun 1882-92 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    Rev. E T Jones, Minister of Blaenwaun 1882-92 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    In 1883 Rev. E. Talfryn Jones became the Pastor, having arrived on 1st March that year from Flintshire. On 3rd April 1885 5, 500 bricks were ordered from Boncath Mercantile Company for rebuilding the chapel here. By 24th May 1885 work was under way on rebuilding the chapel by John Davies, builder, New Quay, to designs by Owen Lewis of London, architect. (Owen Lewis was the son of Thomas Lewis of Parkywaun and his wife Emiah Lewis nee’ Rees, daughter of Rees Rees, mason and Mary Rees nee’ Williams of Llwyndafydd.) The four memorial stones were laid on that date by W. Davies, M. P.; Dr. Phillips, Cardigan; Mr. Rees, Hendre; and Owen Lewis, architect, London. There were then 617 members. In September 1885 new gates were ordered from Mr. Thomas, Bridge-End Foundry. In October 1885 Dan. Evans and William Davies built the walls of the baptistry. The new chapel opened on 8th & 9th August 1886, having cost about £1400 to build. It measured 57ft x 37ft. On 13th August 1886 the ‘Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser‘ described the new chapel building:

    Blaenwaun Baptist Chapel, 1890's (Glen Johnson Collection)

    Blaenwaun Baptist Chapel, 1890′s (Glen Johnson Collection)

    DESCRIPTION OF THE CHAPEL. The new chapel is 57 ½ feet long by 37 ½ feet wide, the interior being approached by a very handsome porch with a small fancy hammered glass window on either side, from which a commodious lobby is reached by folding doors, each side of which being a broad staircase with massive balustrades leading to the gallery, running round three sides of the building. Facing the folding doors is an extremely striking window of coloured hammered glass, capable of being raised on hinges at the top to assist the ventilation when necessary. From the lobby, entrance is given to the downstairs by a panelled door each side of the window with rich brass fittings. Inside the chapel no attempt has been made at architectural display, but its lofty and light appearance is very remarkable, imparting an effect most pleasing to the eye, while a single glance will show that the comfort of the congregation has not been overlooked. The whole of the pews are open, in varnished pitch pine with slightly leaning backs and seats, the top rails being of solid mahogany. The front of the gallery is deeply panelled in bevelled work the mouldings and corners being very appropriate and effective. The pulpit platform is without doubt one of the prettiest in the district, the six polished pitch pine panels of the reading desk being beautifully relieved by mahogany open inner panels. The front of the platform on each side of the desk is of an elegant patterned open floral iron work in bronze, while at the back is a deep alcove, containing the seat, over which is a fine arch springing from floreated capitals. The platform is ascended by two flights of stairs, with pitch pine balustrades and mahogany hand rails. The cor mawr, or deacons, seat immediately beneath the platform is unique in its kind, the wood being sawn in such a manner as to present the grain of the same in its most beautiful form and which has not been seen in the neighbourhood before. The platform, stairs and deacons’ seat are covered with a rich dispersed pattern linoleum, which adds greatly to the general appearance. The chapel is lighted by four windows on each side, one on each side of the platform, and three at the porch end. The ventilation is also on a new system to that generally in use in this part of the country, and which it is expected will be of a highly efficient character. It may be mentioned that the entrance to the chapel is now at the West end, instead of in the South side as in the old one. The architect was Mr. Owen Lewis of London, and the contractor, Mr. John Davies, builder, Newquay, who is to be complimented on the highly successful issue of his work, everything being carried out in the most workmanlike manner to the satisfaction of all connected with the chapel…”

    On 18th January 1887 Mary Morfydd Jones, daughter of Rev. E. T. Jones, died aged 4 months. The following notice appeared in the ‘Cardigan Observer‘ of 5th March 1887:

    BAPTISM AT BLAENYWAEN.—We learn that 32 persons were baptised by immersion at Blaenywaun, by the Rev. E. T. Jones, on Sunday last, in the presence of a very large concourse of people…”

    In April 1892 Rev. E Talfryn Jones ceased to be the Pastor and left for Llwynpia, Glamorgan. On 30th April 1892 the following appeared in the ‘Cardigan Observer‘:

    “…PRESENTATION TO THE REV. T. E. JONES, BLAENYWAUN. Mr. Jones having finally decided to sever his connection with the churches of Blaenywaun and Gerizim, and having preached his farewell sermon at Bethsaida chapel, to an exceedingly large congregation, on Sunday evening last, those among whom he had laboured faithfully, and acceptably for the last nine years, thought it a fitting opportunity of showing their respect for and appreciation of him as a pastor, preacher, and a man consequently a voluntary subscription list was opened with a view of providing a handsome testimonial for him. Mr. Jones leaves in about a week for Llwynyia Glamorganshire. On Wednesday evening last a farewell meeting was held at Bethsaida chapel, St. Dogmells, which was full to overflowing—a sterling proof of Mr. Jones’ popularity, if such was needed- Nonconformity and Conformity being well represented on the occasion. Mr. Jones is a very earnest, energetic, able, and popular preacher, and of unblemished and upright character, and as such had endeared himself not only to the people of his charge, but to the public generally. Capt. Lloyd, Post Office, had decorated the chapel. Around the gallery and back of the pulpit, in large illuminated letters, was the following expression of good feeling “Pob parch ac ewyllys dda ar ei ymadawiad o’n plith,” Mr. Jones’ quarto-size photograph, in a gilt frame, suspending on the wall behind the pulpit. Dr. Phillips, Cardigan, having been elected to the chair, the introductory part of the meeting consisted in the singing of a hymn, the Rev. J. Williams, Cardigan, engaging in prayer. The Chairman having read letters of apology for inability to be present from the vicars of St. Dogmells and Bridell, he opened the proceedings with an expression of regret at Mr. Jones’ departure from them, and eulogised him for his untiring devotion to his duties as a pastor, his ability as a preacher of the simple Gospel of Christ, and his straightforwardness and Christian conduct during his sojourn among them. The following gentlemen who took part in the meeting expressed similar sentiments:—Mr. B. Rees, J.P., Granant; Rev. W. Jones, Moylgrove Rev. D. E. Jones, Capel Seion Mr. Benjamin Rees, maltster; Mr. John Griffiths, Allt; Rev. J. Lewis Penuel; Mr. John Griffiths, Croft; Rev. Thomas Phillips, Veriwg; Mr. D. Jones, Foxhill; Rev. D. Phillips, Blaenpant; Rev. J. Lewis, Ebenezer; Rev. T. J. Morris, Cardigan; Rev. John Richards, Hoel-las; Rev. George Hughes, Mount Zion Capt. Lloyd, post office; Rev. D. G. Phillips, Briar Cottage. THE PRESENTATION. The Chairman next called on Mr. John Rees, C.C., Hendre, representing Gerizim, to present a beautiful and valuable black marble drawing- room clock, on behalf of the churches, bearing the following inscription : “I Rhodd i’r Parch. T. E. Jones, Oddiwrth yr Eglwysi yn Blaenywaun a Gerizim, ar ei ymadawiad, Ebrill, 1892.” There were two magnificent bronze ornaments to match. Mr. Rees said they were a present for work faithfully performed. Mr. Thomas Griffiths, formerly of Bryngwyn, the oldest deacon of Blaenywaun, was next called to present a valuable gold watch, which he did, regretting verv much the parting which was taking place, as he had found Mr. Jones a true friend, and wished him every blessing and prosperity in bis new sphere. The Chairman next presented to Mr. Jones’ daughter, who received on behalf of her mother a beautiful tea and coffee service. Mrs. Jones, owing to domestic affliction, was unable to be present. Mr. Jones, in returning thanks for the valuable presents, said he valued them very much as an indication of the good feeling which existed in the parting. Having reviewed his nine years’ pastorate in the place, he concluded by saying that he had always acted conscientiously. Further remarks were made by Mr. Griffith Evans, Cipyn Rev. E. J. Lloyd, Capel Degwell; Mr. John Richards, Cwm; and Rev. Evans, Hope Chapel.-Votes of thanks to the Chairman and subscribers, and the singing of the hymn “Dan dy fendith wrth ymadael,” &c., and prayer by the Rev. W. Jones, concluded a very good and interesting meeting…”

    In September 1892 members whose children continued to attend the St. Dogmaels National School were threatened with “excommunication.” On October 29th 1893 a number of new Deacons were ordained – Dr. J. M. Phillips of Cardigan; John Evans (Tyhir); Thomas Jones (Plas Lawrence, Monington); William Lloyd (Post Office); H. O. Davies (High Street); Stephen Evans (Pembroke House) and J. R. Thomas of St. Dogmaels. In 1894 T. Havard of Penally became a Deacon. On 21st August 1894 the new Pastor, Rev. Hugh Jones, was ordained, having arrived here from Cwm Rhondda on 29th July that year. There were then 618 members. The following report appeared in the ‘Cardigan Observer‘ on 25th August 1894:

    Rev. Hugh Jones, Minister of Blaenwaun 1894-1902 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    Rev. Hugh Jones, Minister of Blaenwaun 1894-1902 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    “…INDUCTION SERVICES AT BLAENWAUN.—On Monday evening and Tuesday meetings were held for the purpose of inducting the Rev. Hugh Jones, Pwll, Borth, to the pastorate of the Baptist Church at Blaenywaun and the branches at Bethsaida and Gerizim. On Monday evening the first meeting was held at Bethsaida, St. Dogmells, when the Revs. J. Williams, Cardigan, and Williams, New Tredegar, officiated. On Tuesday morning the induction meeting was held at the mother church, Blaenywaun, when the introductory portion of the service was performed by the Rev. — Williams, New Tredegar, and the charge to the minister was given by the Rev. J. Jenkins, Newport, Pem., and that to the church by the Rev. W. Morris, Treorky. At 2 o’clock a meeting was held to welcome the new pastor, presided over by the Rev. J. Williams, Bethania, when addresses were delivered by Mr J. Thomas, Dinas, Glamorgan Revs. O. Owen, Porth; W. E. Davies, Clydach Vale (who presented Mr Jones with an address on behalf of the ministers of the valley); W. Jones, Moylgrove; Mr Lloyd, Capel Degwel O. M. Prichard, Emlyn; Mr Thomas Griffiths, late Bryngwyn Mr B. Rees, Granant, &c. In the evening sermons were preached by the Revs W. Williams, New Tredegar, and W. Morris, Treorky. The meetings were crowded throughout…”

    On 30th September 1894 Rev. Hugh Jones baptised 7 new members at Blaenywaun. Captain Lloyd became the secretary that year. In 1895 there were 776 Baptists in the parish – more than a third of the population of the parish. In March 1895 the chapel celebrated 150 years. In May 1896 Thomas Griffiths of Bryngwyn, a Deacon, died aged 77. In 1897 thirty members left to establish a new Baptist chapel in Moylgrove, leaving 580 members at Blaenwaun. That year, Benjamin Rees of Penwhelp House became the Treasurer of the chapel. On 20th March 1898 Rev. Hugh Jones baptised 12 new members. There were 579 members that year. In June 1898 the Pembrokeshire Baptist Cymanfa was held at Blaenwaun. In 1899 Benjamin Rees of Granant wrote a history of the St. Dogmaels Baptist chapels. On 3rd August 1900 John Rees of Hendre, Deacon, died aged 80. In 1900 membership fell from 560 to 555. There were 14 new members baptised that year. On 16th February 1902 Rev. Hugh Jones baptised 12 at Blaenwaun. On 2nd March 1902 Rev. Hugh Jones baptised 30 here. Rev. Hugh Jones ceased to be the Minister in 1902 after accepting another calling at Llanelli. There followed a period of about three years with no Minister. In 1902 the wine used for the communion became non-alcoholic.

    Arrival of Rev. J D Hughes to Blaenwaun, 07/07/1905 (Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser)

    Arrival of Rev. J D Hughes to Blaenwaun, 07/07/1905 (Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser)

    In March 1905 Rev. John David Hughes of Anglesey accepted the call to be the new Pastor. The chapel then had 573 members. On 30th April 1905 new Pastor Rev. J. D. Hughes baptised 38 persons. On 24th June 1905 his recognition service was held. On 6th October 1905 tenders were sought for building a Minister’s House (called Rhosgerdd) at Longdown Bank. The congregation celebrated its’ bicentenary on 13th April 1906. In 1909 there were 530 members. In October 1909 the following Deacons were elected: William Davies, High Street; David Griffiths, Pentrelangwm; Thomas Gwion, Pilot Street; William Nicholas, Grannant Villas; and William Thomas, Feidrfawr. In May 1910 there were 41 baptisms watched by a crowd of more than two thousand. On 2nd June 1912 Rev John David Hughes baptised 21 persons. In 1914 Ben James of Cwmdegwel and Thomas Nugent of Albro, High Street, became Deacons. On 29th December 1914 Benjamin Rees of Granant, died aged 85, having served for forty years as a Deacon. In 1924 J. Jones of Lawrence Villa and J. James of Pentrelangwm became Deacons. Rev. John David Hughes ended his time as Pastor on 3rd June 1925, due to ill health, and died on 29th June 1927 aged 68.

    Rev. John Thomas, Minister of Blaenwaun 1926-57 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    Rev. John Thomas, Minister of Blaenwaun 1926-57 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    On 26th May 1926 the Rev. John Thomas, formerly of Glanamman, was inducted as the new Minister, and remained so until 1957. In 1930 the following became Deacons: D. L. Davies, Ysgyborhen; John Davies, Pomona; T. Davies, Pantygrwndy; T. Edwards, Ivy Cottage; John Morris, Gwynfa; and D. O. Richards, Cardigan. On 28th July 1933 J. Emrys Thomas, a Deacon, died.  During the 1930’s there were about 550 members. In 1938 there were 15 baptisms and a total of 34 new members with 17 members leaving or dying during the year. In 1939 there were 8 baptisms. During that year Deacons John Davies, Pomona, and T. Davies, Pantygrwndy, both died. In 1941 the following Deacons were elected: Eddie Davies, Brodawel; John O. Davies, Aelybryn; J. Evans, Waunsegyr Uchaf; J. A. Griffiths, Parcygors; Mansel Garnon, Belle Vue; and William Sambrook, Pentood. In 1944 there were four new members admitted through baptism. On 17th March 1948 the Pastor, Rev. John Thomas, married Mrs. A. B. Rees of Penymarian, Cardigan. On 31st July 1949 a number of new Deacons were appointed, including Griffith Davies of Angel House; Gwilym Davies of Pantsaeson Farm, Monington; John Gwynne of Waunwhiod; David J. Lloyd; and Ben James of Bryngwyn. On 15th & 16th May 1951 there were special services commemorating Rev. John Thomas’ 25 years here. On 11th August 1951 John Jones of Lawrence Villa, a Deacon for 26 years, died aged 81. On April 16th 1952 a Cymanfa was held here. On 28th November 1956 Captain John Davies of Pomona, Secretary and Deacon, died aged 88. On 8th March 1957 redecoration of the chapel was under way. In April 1957 the Welsh Baptist Union held their annual meeting at Blaenywaun, with Rev. John Thomas as the President. In 1957 Rev. John Thomas ceased to be the Minister after 31 years (he died in June 1975). There were about 500 members at that time.

    Rev. W H Rowlands becomes Minister of Blaenwaun 19/02/1960 (Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser)

    Rev. W H Rowlands becomes Minister of Blaenwaun 19/02/1960 (Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser)

    On 17th February 1960 Rev. W. H. Rowlands, formerly of Nefyn and Swansea, became the Minister until 1981. In 1966 there were about 400 members. In 1971 David John Davies, Post Office, and Martin Gwynne, Llysbonfil, became Deacons. In 1973 Martin Gwynne, Llysbonfil, became the treasurer. In 1974 Mair Garnon-James, Bell View,  became the secretary of Blaenywaun and Bethsaida Baptist chapels until 2011. In 1975 the following Deacons were elected: Harold Gwynne, Gwawrfryn; Jeffrey James, Bell View; Samuel Jones, Sarnau; and Teifion Toft, Glandegwel. In 1976 Rev. John Thomas, who had been the Minister from 1926-57, died aged 90. On 12th May 1979 Gwilym Davies, a Deacon, died. In 1979 membership fell from 286 to 279. In July 1980 (13th -17th) the Welsh Baptist Union held their meetings here. In November 1980 Rev. W. H. Rowlands, the Pastor, retired. Membership fell that year from 279 to 269. In 1981 Samuel J. Jones, Tongwyn, became the Treasurer. Membership in 1981 fell from 269 to 255. In 1982 membership fell from 255 to 245.

    Cover of Installation Service Booklet, Rev. Dafydd H Edwards, Blaenwaun, 16/11/1983 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    Cover of Installation Service Booklet, Rev. Dafydd H Edwards, Blaenwaun, 16/11/1983 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    On 16th November 1983 Rev. Dafydd H. Edwards, B. A., became the Pastor until 2006. In 1983 membership fell from 245 to 228, but in 1984 rose to 231. In 1985 Rev. Dafydd H. Edwards wrote a booklet ‘Blaenwaun Llandudoch – 1885’ celebrating the centenary of the current building. Membership fell in 1985 from 231 to 220. In 1986 M. Euronwy James became the Financial Secretary. On January 1st 1988 there were 213 members and 207 in January 1989. In 1989 Senior Deacon Eddie Davies died. In January 1990 there were 199 members. In 1990 three new Deacons were elected: Mair Garnon James, Bell View; John Sambrook, Meini’r Abad; Michael James, Maesderwen. J. Basil Blake was elected the Treasurer that year. In January 1991 there were 195 members. In 1991 Beth Toft became the Financial Secretary. In January 1992 there were 189 members, falling to 185 in December. In 1995 membership fell by 11 and by a further 10 in 1996. In January 1998 and 1999 there were 121 members. On October 14th 2000 the eldest Deacon, Mr. D. G. Davies, died. On 1st January 2002 there were 102 members. In 2004 Elfed John became the Secretary. In 2006 the chapel celebrated its tri-centenary. In 2006 Rev. Dafydd H. Edwards ceased to be the Minister, and moved to another calling at Radyr, Cardiff.

    Rev. Gareth Morris, Minister of Blaenwaun, 13/06/2013 (c) Glen K Johnson

    Rev. Gareth Morris, Minister of Blaenwaun, 13/06/2013 (c) Glen K Johnson

    In 2006 Rev. Gareth Morris became the new Minister and was Minister in 2006-13. On 30th July 2006 a special service commemorated 300 years of Baptist worship in the parish. In October 2008 a grant was obtained for repairing the baptism pool. In 2008 Elfed John was the chapel secretary. There were about 75 members that year. In February 2010 three new Deacons were elected – Rhin Palmer, Glennydd James and Malcolm Rees. In January 2011 Mair Garnon James ceased to be the Secretary after 37 years.


    Inside Blaenwaun, September 2009 (c) Glen K Johnson

    Inside Blaenwaun, September 2009 (c) Glen K Johnson

    The following observations were made in 1998:

    1885-6 Baptist chapel in unpainted stucco with tall arched-headed windows, pitched slate roof with gable finials, and gabled façade. Façade has gable-fronted ground floor centre porch with pitched slate roof, stucco arch with capitals to arch springs, small arched headed lights to sides. Above, in centre bay, is first floor marginal glazed arched-headed light breaking raised stucco band at gable height. Raised stucco surrounds and keystone. Inscription above in painted, raised stucco letters ‘Blaenwaun Baptist Chapel Rebuilt 1885’. Outer bays have tall, narrow lights with similar, smaller, keystones. Raised corner pilasters. Side walls have five windows with stone sills, separated by squared raised pilasters.


    Map of Cardigan, J. Wood, 1834

    Pembrokeshire Record Office: Port of Cardigan Shipping Registers

    J. P. Williams (illus.), Lavars, Broad Street, Bristol ca1850

    Slater’s Directory 1850

    Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser 1868; 1874; 1885-86; 1894; 1896; 1898; 1900; 1902; 1905-06; 1909; 1912; 1914; 1919-20; 1925-27; 1930; 1933; 1936; 1948-49; 1951-52; 1956-57; 1959-60; 1969-70; 1976; 1979; 1999-2000; 2006; 2008; 2010

    Kelly’s Directory of South Wales 1875; 1926

    Western Mail 06/06/1882

    Blaenywaun 1795 (illus.) Robinson’s, Bristol 1885

    Cardigan Observer 1887

    Accounts of Rebuilding Blaenywaun Chapel 1891

    Letter – To Blaenwaun Chapel from the Pembrokeshire Baptist Association

    Hanes Blaenywaun, Benjamin Rees 1899

    Blaenywaun Baptist Chapel Annual Report for 1900

    Poster – Cemetery Rules Amendment 03/12/1902

    Blaenywaun Cemetery Rules, B. Rees 30/03/1903

    Programme – Mayoral Concert, Blaenywaun 14/11/1920

    Programme – Installation Ceremony – Rev. John Thomas, Blaenywaun 26/05/1926

    Programme – Funeral Service – Rev. J D Hughes 04/07/1927

    Annual Report – Blaenywaun 1938; 1939; 1944

    Poster – Prayer Festival, Blaenywaun 24/03/1951

    Programme – Quarter Century of the ministry of Rev. John Thomas, Blaenywaun 15/05/1951.

    Programme – Cymanfa at Blaenywaun 16/04/1952

    The Religious Census of 1851, Ieuan G Jones & David Williams 1976

    Poster – Welsh Baptist Union Meeting, Blaenwaun Chapel, July 1980

    Programme – Installation, Rev. Dafydd H Edwards, Blaenwaun Chapel, St Dogmaels 16/11/1983

    Programme – Centenary Service – Blaenywaun Baptist Chapel 26/05/1985

    Blaenwaun, Llandudoch – Celebrating the Centenary of the New Chapel, Rev. Dafydd H Edwards


    Strangers From a Secret Land, Peter Thomas 1986.

    Blaenwaun Chapel Annual Reports 1988-96; 1998-99; 2008-09

    St. Dogmaels Uncovered, Glen K Johnson 2007

    Monumental Inscriptions, Blaenwaun Chapel cemetery.

    © Glen K Johnson 16/07/2013.



    1. Jane
      August 17, 2013 at 6:31 am

      Hi Glen, As promised

      Seren Cymru June 5 1885

      Yr Architect yw Mr Owen Lewis o Lundain, yr hwn sydd enedigol o Parkywaun, ger Blaenywaun, ac y mae yn gymmwynasgar ac haelionus ar yr amgylchiad presenol-Ei hen dadcu o du ei fam oedd Owen Williams, adeiladydd capel diweddaf Blaenywaun yn 1795, Felly gwelir fod y meibion yn dyfod yn lle’r tadu. Mae yn berthynas hefyd I’r enwog Titus Lewis fu yn weinidog yma.

      Extract of a speech given by Owen Lewis ( Owain Dyfed) Architect of Blaenywaun at the re-opening of the Chapel 1885
      …Efallai na ddigiech chwi ddim wrthyf pe bai I mi ddweyd wrthych mai fy hen dadcu o du fy mam hoff oedd adeiladyff hen gapel Blaenywaun, yr hwn sydd newydd ei dynu I lawr er mwyn rhoddi lle I adeilad gwell. Owen Williams, o Llwyn dafydd, gerllaw yma, ydoedd hwnw: ac y mae eich gwaith yn gosod yr anrhydedd hon arnaf o ganlynaid yn fwy dyddorol fyth I mi. Gallem ddweyd llawer o bethau dyddorol ddigon am hen berthynasau I mi a fy yn dwyn llawer iawn o berthynas ag achos crefydd yn Blaenywaun a’r ardal, ond barnwyf mai ofer fyddai eich blino a chrybwyllion personol, er y byddai hyny yn beth tra dymunol I mi…..

      Owen Lewis born Parkywaun St Dogmaels his Grandfather Owen Williams Llwyndafydd St Dogmaels, on his mothers side, was the builder of the Chapel in 1795 – Possibly the reason why the orignal memorial stones were placed inside the chapel – possibly why a postcard printed in 1885 showing the 1795 Chapel

      • glen
        August 17, 2013 at 7:52 am

        Thanks Jane – that’s a really useful piece of information, and it’s fascinating to hear that there is also a connection between Owen Lewis and Titus Lewis. Owen Williams was, I believe, Owen Lewis’ Great Grandfather rather than grandfather – the phrase “hen dadcu” is used consistently, and although it translates literally as “old grandfather” it is the normal term used in Welsh for “great grandfather. I hope this doesn’t upset the family tree at all! Hope to hear from you again soon!



        • Jane
          August 17, 2013 at 9:06 am

          Sorry Glen, My mistake I did mean “Great grandfather”. It is also possible in the will of Owen William/s Llwyndafydd left his Grand daughter Emiah Rees a Cottage (unnamed)- This may well be Parkywaun – Possible that Parkywaun and another cottage Parc Canol ( which was left to his daughter Mary Rees nee Williams my 4 x great grandmother – mother of Emiah) these cottages were built on Llwyndafydd Land? Emiah is the mother of Owen Lewis (Architect of Blaenywaun)

          • glen
            August 17, 2013 at 10:22 am

            Thanks for the additional information Jane – really appreciate your valuable input.

            Kind Regards


            • Jane
              December 11, 2013 at 10:57 pm

              to designs by Owen Lewis of London, architect. (Owen Lewis was the son of Owen and Emiah Lewis nee’ Rees, daughter of Rees Rees, mason and Mary Rees nee’ Williams of Llwyndafydd.

              Hi Glen,
              You have written the above, a correction on Owen’s father.
              Owen Lewis born Parkywaun St Dogmaels was the son of THOMAS and Emiah Lewis nee Rees.
              Keep up the good work

            • glen
              December 12, 2013 at 8:38 am

              Hi Jane

              Oops! Correction noted and text duly altered – thanks for your help and if you find any other errors please let me know so I can fix them!

              Kind Regards


    2. Gareth Isaac
      September 3, 2013 at 11:10 am

      Hello Glen
      I was very interested to read your excellent history of Blaenwaun Baptist Chapel.
      I am a Great grandson of Reverend Isaac Thomas who was the minister at Blaenwaun between 1868 and 1871. My grandmother Alice Louisa Thomas was born at St Dogmaels on Christmas Day 1868.
      Isaac Thomas moved from Blaenwaun to Caersalem Newydd Chapel in Swansea where he was the minister for many years thereafter. He is buried at Caersalem Newydd and there is a large prominent obelisk in front of the chapel which was erected in his memory.
      A few more details that may be of interest. Although you say in your history that Isaac Thomas came from Birkenhead he was actually born in Goginan, Ceredigion. He studied at Bala College and his first ministry was in Birkenhead where he met his wife Annie Colwill Hicks. Although Isaac Thomas was a Welsh speaker I understand that his wife Annie never spoke a word of Welsh despite spending most of her married life living in mainly Welsh speaking communities. My father said that his grandmother acquired the nickname ‘hen Saeson’ when she lived in Swansea.
      Isaac Thomas went on to become a well known Baptist Minister in Wales and he was chairman of the Welsh Baptist Union in 1897. My mother has a printed copy of the sermon he preached (in Welsh) on taking the Chair.
      When carrying out some family history research a number of years ago I also found numerous references to Isaac Thomas in back editions of the Swansea Evening Post.
      However, I did not know much detail about Isaac Thomas’s time at Blaenwaun Baptist Chapel until last week when a visit to the area prompted me to visit the Chapel which in turn led me to finding your account of the history of the Chapel.
      So thank you very much for publishing the history of the Chapel and making it so interesting and accessible.

      Best wishes

      Gareth Isaac

      • glen
        September 3, 2013 at 11:45 am

        Thank-you for your kind words Gareth. Glad you liked the entry on Blaenwaun. It’s great to hear from people who are descended from figures like Rev. Isaac Thomas, who played such an important role in the history of the community. Many thanks for the additional background information – I know a number of people visiting this site will be very appreciative.



    3. David Richards
      December 11, 2013 at 5:46 pm

      Hi Glen,
      I found your fascinating history of Blaenwaun while searching the web to see if the chapel is still in use.
      My great-grand parents John and Louisa Richards were married at Blaenwaun on 3rd August 1869 and one of their issue, David Owen, was the D.O. Richards appointed deacon in 1930. David Owen married Margaret Richards of Cidigill Isaf and for a while lived in Rosario on the Aberystwyth Road, Cardigan where my father Benjamin John Richards was born on 20th February 1922. In 1931 that house passed to the Bethania chapel in William Street Cardigan, and I believe it is still the minister’s residence. My father’s family moved across the road to Rhosgerdd but it is only now that I appreciate the naming of the house.
      David Owen died in 1947, and Margaret in 1968 and are both buried in the cemetery at Blaenwaun. Benjamin left West Wales after service in the Royal Welch Fusiliers in WW2 and had a successful career in the West Midlands scrap metal industry. He is still alive at 92 years old, in a nursing home with dementia. As he is approaching the end of his life my sister and I are looking into the possibility and practicality of returning his body to West Wales after he has died. Any help you can provide – contacts etc – would be greatly appreciated.
      Kind Regards,
      David Richards,

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