The congregation was founded in 1820 by members of the congregations at Cardigan, Moylegrove and Trewen. It was originally an itinerant group meeting in the houses of members. By 1826 Rev. Daniel Davies, Minister of Capel Mair, Cardigan, had purchased Ffynnondegwel for the purpose of erecting a chapel here. In 1828 Rev. Daniel Davies converted the old cottages he had bought into a chapel. His wife, Mary Davies, died on 7th February 1828. In 1828-64 Rev. Daniel Davies was the Minister. In 1835 the chapel became independent of Capel Mair, but retained Rev. Daniel Davies as its’ Minister. David Williams, clothier, and David James, Ysgyborwen, were amongst the first Deacons. In 1841 the 21-year-old daughter of Rev. Daniel Davies, died towards the end of the year. David Owen, clog-maker, and Thomas Jones, Tyhir, were Deacons here. On 30th May 1845 Thomas Jones of Tyhir, a Deacon, died aged 42. In 1851 average Sunday attendance was 320, plus 80 scholars. In 1864 Rev. Daniel Davies surrendered his position here, at the age of 84.
On 24th & 26th October 1865 Rev. Edwin Jones, a Llechryd schoolmaster, was inducted as the Minister here and at Tyrhos Independent Chapel, Cilgerran, with which Capel Degwel had recently become affiliated. In 1865-67 Rev. Edwin Jones was the Minister here and at Tyrhos. In 1867 Rev. Edwin Jones left for Rehoboth, Brynawr, Monmouth.
In January 1868 Rev. John M. Davies, Maesycymwr, became the Minister until 1890, and his induction took place on 11th & 12th February 1868. On 14th February 1868 the following appeared in the ‘Pembrokeshire Herald‘:
“…CARDIGAN. RECOGNITION OF A MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL.—On Monday evening began the ceremony of recognising the Rev Mr Davies, Independent minister, late of Maesycwmmwr, as minister of Capel Dogmell and Tyrhos. The proceedings were carried on at the Bethesda chapel, St Dogmells. There were many ministers present, and the chapel was crowded to excess. The meeting was commenced by the Rev J. N. Richards, Cardigan, and the Rev W. Rees, Llecbryd afterwards preached a most excellent sermon. He was followed by the Rev. T. Selby Jones, Trewen, and a hymn having been sung, the meeting for the night terminated. Services were also held on Tuesday…”
In 1870 Deacon David Owen, 60, left for America, and died soon afterwards. In 1871 Mary Morris, 37, lived at the chapel house. About that year the Deacons were Captain John Davies, James James, David Davies, John Davies and Thomas Selby. On 1st March 1877 the following advertisement was published:
“…To Builders & Contractors. The Independent Church assembling at Capel Degwell, St. Dogmells invite tenders for the erection of a new chapel in the above place. Plans & specifications are to be seen at Mr James maltster St. Dogmells from the tenth of March to the 20th. Do not bind themselves to accept the lowest or any tender. March 1st 1877. James James…”
The new chapel opened on 8th October 1878. The following report appeared in the ‘Cardigan Observer‘ on 12th October 1878:
“…CAPEL DEGWEL.—This chapel, which has been restored at a cost of £700, was re-opened on Tuesday and Wednesday last, when the following ministers took a part in the services:—On Tuesday, at 2 p.m., the Revs. J. Francis, Gideon, and J. Pugh, Fishguard, preached; and at 6 p.m. the Revs. R. P. Jones, Pencader, and J. T. Evans, Carmarthen. On Thursday, at 10 a.m., the Revs. R. P. Jones, J. Davies, Yetwen (in English), and J. T. Evans, preached; at 2 p.m., Revs. J. Evans, Trewen, and S Evans, Hebron; at 6 p.m., at Bethsaida chapel, the Revs. R, O. Owen, Glandwr, and R. P. Jones. At the close the Rev. J. M. Davies, the minister, announced that the debt incurred had been paid, with the exception of some £23, which he hoped to realize soon from a concert that was to be given. Mr. Lewis Davies was the contractor, and the work reflects great credit upon him…”
In 1890 Rev. John M. Davies ceased to be the Minister.
In 1891 Rev. E. J. Lloyd became the Minister until 1931. In 1891 the chapel house was the home of Mary Morris, 59, and Elizabeth Williams, 14, boarder. In August 1898 Thomas Selby was the oldest member. In 1901 William Thomas redecorated the chapel. In 1911 Mary Morris, 63, was the caretaker. In 1915 Rev. E. J. Lloyd wrote a book on the history of the local Independent Sunday School movement. In 1919 T. R. Joseph became the Treasurer. On 14th September 1923 tenders were being sought for supplying the chapel with electric lights. On 29th June 1926 the chapel was licensed to solemnise marriages. On 20th November 1928 the chapel reopened following a refit and redecoration by Benjamin James of High Street, Cardigan, and celebrated its’ centenary. In July 1931 Rev. E. J. Lloyd retired as Pastor after more than forty years.
On 29th June 1932 Rev. Thomas M. Thomas, a student from the Cararthen Presbyterian College, became the Minister until 1938. On 9th September 1933 Rev. Thomas M. Thomas, Minister, married Miss Nancy Thomas of Wakefield. Rev. Thomas Thomas left to return to college in 1935 or 1938, and he became a Church of England cleric. By 29th November 1935 a vestry had been added, which opened on 11th December 1935. The architect was John Teifion James Williams of Cardigan. Messrs. Albert Phillips & Sons of St. Dogmaels were the contractors, and joinery was by Tom Griffiths of Rushfield, St. Dogmaels. On 26th June 1937 the senior Deacon, Tom Joseph of Violet House, High Street, died aged 72. Rev. Thomas M. Thomas departed at the end of August 1938. In 1938 the Deacons were: Rev. E. J. Lloyd; Mr. B. L. James; John Davies; Mr. S. J. Davies; Mr. J. M. Isaac; John Phillips; and Mr. T. R. Joseph. The number of members that year fell from 155 to 151. On 15th March 1939 an Eisteddfod was held here. On 23rd May 1939 former minister Rev. E. J. Lloyd died aged 72.
On 12th August 1942 Rev. David John Thomas of Carmarthen became the Minister. He was married on 31st August 1943. On 16th March 1945 Rev. D. J. Thomas accepted another pastorate at Llangennech and left. In June 1949 Rev. Eirwyn Davies became the Minister until 1952. Gerallt Davies and Eilir Phillips became Deacons in 1950. James Gerallt Davies was the Chapel Secretary that year. In January 1952 T. R. Joseph of Violet House celebrated 33 years as the Treasurer. On 14th December 1952 Rev. Eirwyn Davies preached his last sermon here as Minister. In September 1955 Rev. Stanley Jones became the Minister until 1963. On 14th June 1957 tenders were sought for re-decorating the chapel. In August 1959 Rev. Stanley Jones celebrated 25 years as a congregational minister. On 15th March 1963 Rev. Stanley Jones was inducted as the Minister of another chapel. In 1963-84 Rev. Llungwyn O. Jones was the Minister. In June 1969 Mr. J. L. Davies, Penalltydre, became a Deacon, but died that December, and Mr. G. Neville Phillips and Enoch Williams became Deacons. In 1974 the officers of the chapel included Deacons Messrs. Eilir Phillips, J. G. Davies (Secretary & Musical Conductor), J. M. Isaac; Enoch Williams; T. R. Joseph (Treasurer); G. N. Phillips (Financial Secretary) and D. J. Owens. There were then 126 members. In 1980 Mr. E. Noel Davies and Percy Griffiths became Deacons. In 1981 Enoch Williams, Deacon, died. In 1981 membership rose from 119 to 132 and in 1982 to 133, falling to 130 in 1983. In 1984 Rev. Llungwyn O. Jones died and membership fell that year from 130 to 123.
In 1986 Rev. D. J. Thomas became the Minister. In 1987-97 Rev. D. J. Thomas was the Minister. In 1987 membership fell from 117 to 113. In 1989 membership fell from 122 to 121. In 1990 membership fell from 121 to 119. In September 1992 Rev. D. J. Thomas celebrated 50 years in the ministry. In February 1993 Capel Degwel re-opened following redecoration by Norman Austin. In 1993 Messrs. D. Iwan Dafis and Reggie Davies became Deacons. In January 1995 there were 119 members. In 1995-99 the Deacons were Messrs. J. Gerallt Davies; Eilir Phillips; G. Neville Phillips; E. Noel Davies; D. Iwan Dafis and Reggie Davies. In 1996 there were 114 members. In 1997 there were 110 members. Rev. David J. Thomas left in 1997 and died in 1998.
In 1998 there were 106 members. In 1999 Rev. Wynford Thomas became the Minister and remained so in 1999-2008. In 1999 Reggie Davies, a Deacon, died. In 1999 there were 106 members. In January 2000 Gerallt Davies and Eilir Phillips celebrated 50 years as Deacons. In 2000 there were 104 members. In 2001 there were 103 members. In 2002 there were 101 members. In 2003 Terwyn Tomos became an additional Deacon of Capel Degwel. In 2003 there were 100 members. In December 2010 Deacon Eilir Phillips died, having been a Deacon here for 60 years.
The following observations were made in 1998:
1877-8 Independent Chapel, gable fronted with open pediment, unpainted roughcast with paired brackets to wide eaves, slate graded roof. Façade is 3-bay with central entrance having gable-fronted porch carried on paired narrow Roman Doric columns on square bases with matching heads. Wider squared pilaster responds. Above is open-pediment, overhanging modillioned sides, pitched slate roof with terracotta crested ridge. Above porch are paired arched-headed lights with painted stone sills and raised banded stucco hoods. Coloured glass to side margins and matching head. Gable has deeply-recessed stucco roundel with raised banded surround and quatrefoil motif within. Date plaque above. Outer bays have tall similar lights with matching hoods, sills and glazing, but without coloured glass. Raised stucco rusticated angle piers. Two storey, 3-window side wall to left with flat-headed ground floor lights and arched-headed lights above with stone sills throughout. Side margins to all lights. Spearheaded area railings on dwarf ashlar block wall, coped, with paired decorative scrolled wrought iron gates.
Religious Census 1851
Hanes Eglwysi Annibynnol Cymru, Thomas Rees & John Thomas ca1871.
Kelly’s Directory 1875
Advert – Rebuilding Capel Degwell, James James 01/03/1877
Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser 1877-78; 1898; 1909; 1915; 1921; 1923; 1926-28; 1930; 1932-38; 1942-43; 1945; 1952; 1956-57; 1963; 1967; 1969-70; 2001; 2011
Accounts – Rebuilding Blaenywaun 1891
Burial Register – St. Dogmaels 1885-1952
Census Returns 1871; 1891; 1911
Lafurwyr Seion, Rev. E J Lloyd, Capel Degwel 1915
Annual Report – Capel Degwel 1938; 1974; 1981; 1982; 1983; 1984; 1987; 1989; 1990; 1995; 1996; 1997; 1998; 1999; 2000; 2001; 2002; 2003; 2004; 2005; 2006; 2007; 2008
Programme – Capel Degwel Eisteddfod 15/03/1939
Poster – Prayer Meeting, Capel Degwel 23/03/1951
Census Returns 1911
Poster – Prayer Meetings, Capel Degwel 23/03/1951
Cwrdd Cyfundeb Penfro, Capel Degwell 22/07/1953
Capel Mair, D J Roberts 1955
The Gateway to Wales, W J Lewis 1990
St. Dogmaels, CADW, Julian Orbach, CADW 1993.
© Glen K Johnson 17/07/2013.