In 1871 there was an unoccupied dwelling on the site. An outbuilding was occupied by Samuel Griffiths, 60, labourer; Mary Griffiths, 61, his wife; and a lodger. On 24th June 1878 the site was sold for £335 by Captain William Evans of Newport to the Trustees of Hope English Congregational Chapel on Carrier’s Lane – Levi James, Caemorgan; David M. Palmer; Lewis Evans, High Street; O. P. Davies; J. R. Daniel; M. A. Stephens; Launcelot Lowther; J. D. James;, Thomas Griffiths; Samuel Owen; William Jones; James Davies; and O. Beynon Evans. The sale of the previous Hope Chapel on Carrier’s Lane to the Good Templars started the building fund with £200. The chapel book reports:
“…Mr Beynon being exceedingly active throughout the District in collecting, a sum was secured which justified the officers of the Church in purchasing a suitable site at Pendre and the Church making really serious sacrifices in their subscription, the building was commenced…”
On 7th May 1879 David Davies, M. P., laid the foundation stone for the new chapel, on the junction of Pendre and Bath House Road. The architect was Peter Price and the builder was David Williams of Pantydefaid, Llangoedmor. The total cost was £1,820. On 10th May 1879 the following appeared in the ‘Cardigan Observer‘:
“…THE NEW CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH, CARDIGAN. LAYING THE FOUNDATION STONE. On Thursday last, the foundation stone of the New English Congregational Church was laid in this town, by Mr. David Davies, M. P. for the Borough, in the presence of a large number of ministers and general public. The weather was beautifully tame. The design of the new church is Gothic, and when erected it will measure 63ft. by 36ft; estimated cost, £1200. It is to be built of dressed Cilgerran stones, interspersed with Bath stones. There are to be five windows on the north side, and four on the south side, of milled glass, dressed with Bath stone. There is also to be a small projecting window on the corner of the north side, forming the basis for a spire. In the front there is to be a large ornamental centre window, with two smaller ones each side of the door. At the entrance there are to be three granite pillars, one each side of the door, the other forming a division. The entrance into the building is by broad stone steps into a lobby, from thence into the interior by two doors. It is calculated to seat about 350 persons-300 on the ground floor, and 50 on the gallery, which faces the pulpit. Above the pulpit is a richly ornamented circular window. The ceiling reveals a great portion of the stained wood-work, from the centre of which is suspended a starlight chandelier. There will be a small court in front of the building, and a house for the chapel keeper at the back beneath the west end. The plans are drawn with a vestry and school-room attached, corresponding in style with the church, but these will not be built until the church expenses are met. The architect is Mr. Peter Price, of Cardiff, and the whole of the expense of drawing the plans has been most generously defrayed by Mr. D. Lewis, mayor of Cardiff. Amongst others, we noticed the following on the platform:—Revs. T. Rees, D.D., Swansea; T. J. Morris, L. Beynon, J. N. Richards, Wm. Jones (Moylgrove), W. Jones (C.M.), Seth Jones (B.), T. Phillips (B.), Messrs. R. E. Rees, M. A. Stephens, Levi James, Lewis Evans, W. Morgan, D. M. Palmer, B. A., J. M. Jones, Alderman Edwards, O. B. Evans, James Williams, William James and J. R. Daniel, together with a large number of ladies. The Rev. L. Beynon (pastor of the church), gave out the 881st hymn in the Congregational Hymn Book, commencing with This stone to Thee in faith we lay, We build the temple, Lord, to Thee,” &c., which was heartily sung to the tune “Boston.” Then the Rev. Dr. Rees read the 122nd Psalm, and engaged in prayer for God’s blessing on the work they were engaged in.
The devotional service being over, Mr. Levi James, on behalf of the Church and committee, presented Mr. D. Davies, M.P., with a box, containing a beautiful silver trowel (bearing a suitable inscription), and a mallet, wherewith to lay the foundation stone, remarking that the trowel and mallet were symbolical of architecture, and their worthy member was a good architect, having builded his own fortune, both worldly and heavenly, and hoped that he would enjoy a long life to do good in this world, as he was prone to do, and at the end have an abundant entry into the kingdom of heaven. Mr. Davies thanked Mr. James and the committee for the handsome present they had given him, and asked the adults to allow the children to come forward so as to see the stone being laid. He would guarantee that he would lay the stone solid, plumb, and square, as he had had plenty of experience. The ceremony being over, Mr. Davies declared the stone well and truly laid, as promised by him, and gave as a reason for the time taken to do so, that he had to insert a bottle in the stone, containing the history of the Church in Cardigan, together with a copy of the Tyst a’r Dydd newspaper, and some coins of the realm they should not infer that the delay was caused by his clumsyness (laughter). He hoped every stone in the building would be laid as truly as he had laid his, and that every part of the work would be carried out so thoroughly. Inferring from what he had seen of the building, it was done in first-class style, and if completed in the same manner as it was commenced, the contractor would deserve another contract. He was an old mason, and was capable of judging masonry. He did not know how much money was in hand with the friends, but he trusted all the debt would be wiped off soon, as an encumbrance of that kind was, a great drawback to a church. He hoped the new chapel would prove a blessing to many, by being the means of bringing them to the Saviour. He then dwelt upon the necessity of assisting the friends with contributions, as is the custom on occasions of this kind. He would gladly contribute his mite, and hoped that all would do what they could. He was not expected to give as much to the Congregationalists, Baptists, &c., as to the Calvinistic Methodists, who were his nearest friends; but he would give as much as could be expected. Whenever he was invited on an occasion like this, he endeavoured to give as much as he could. The times were very bad now, and the collieries, where he had a great interest, were not going well, hence he could not be so liberal in his contributions as in good times. When he promised to come and lay the foundation stone, he was under the impression that it was a Welsh Independent Chapel, but after coming to town he found that it belonged to the English friends, who, as a rule, are very liberal. He was glad to learn that the Welsh brethren were acting so liberally towards their English friends in Cardigan, as they needed their assistance; so that if the predictions of some people were correct, when the Welsh would become weak and the English strong, they would be supported by the English friends-retaliated for the kindness they had received. One of his workmen told him that the Welsh language would not die out as long as he would live (laughter.) However about that, he trusted all would do their utmost to assist by contributing liberally towards the building fund. Unless the debt is cleared off the chapel, the pastor would have to suffer in his salary, as, no doubt, the interest on the debt would be deducted from it. He should like to hear that all the debt was cleared off on the opening day. He then remarked in a very witty manner that if they wanted two new sermons every Sunday, they should pay the minister well, so as to release him from all worldly troubles. If they did that, that would insure them good ministry, provided the minister was worth anything, The Welsh people as a rule were full of fervour, and contributed liberally towards supporting religion. The Welsh Calvinistic Methodists paid their ministers from £100 to £600 a year, and money lent upon their chapels was considers as safe as consols. He reminded all present, whether they intended to have any benefit from the English Chapel or not, to bear in mind that by contributing towards the building fund, they were lending to God. The house of God ought to be made as comfortable and as good as any other house, as comfort was a great assistance to worship God rightly. Towards assisting the friends to build their new chapel he would gladly give a cheque for £100, the same amount as he gave to all small chapels but to large ones he gave £200. He made it a rule to fill in the cheque before he started from home, for fear he would, when warmed up, be induced to fill in a larger sum (laughter). Mr. Davies then called upon the Rev. L. Beynon to read the Following history of the Church, which was put in the bottle and sealed:
THE ENGLISH CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH, CARDIGAN. This Church was for many years the only English Nonconformist place of worship in the county. It was formed about the year 1836, principally through the exertions of the late Mr. Lloyd, who desired to provide for the religious welfare of a large number of English work people then employed by him. For the period during which Mr. Lloyd continued in business the attendance was large, and the cause successful; but when he retired, and his work people dispersed to other localities, the Church found itself much reduced in numbers. Another cause of weakness which arose about this time, was the fact that the lease of the ground upon which the building was erected expired, and this necessitated the purchase of the freehold to retain it. This was done in the year 1859, with the aid of sympathising friends. Under these circumstances, the Church became disheartened, for it was found difficult to raise sufficient funds to meet necessary expenses, and it could not afford to maintain a pastor, consequently, for several years, it had to depend upon such assistance in the way of supplies as could be rendered by neighbouring ministers. The Congregational County Association then came to its aid by voting an annual sum, and the Church was enabled to meet its long felt need. The pastors have been The Reverends David Phillips, Richard Handcock, Robert Breeze, David Jones, John Newman Richards, and Lewis Beynon (the present minister).
For some years it has been felt that the situation of Hope Chapel is seriously detrimental to the prosperity of the cause. The building also is in great need of renovation. These considerations, together with the rapid progress of the English language, have caused the friends to feel it advisable to remove to a more central position. Recently, a freehold site, in the principal street of the town, was secured, and on this the present erection has been commenced. The Church relies upon the blessing of God, and the kind aid of friends outside their own community to be enabled to meet an outlay much beyond their unassisted power, therefore, with anxiety and yet with confidence we this day lay the foundation of our new sanctuary, praying that He that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, may “establish the work of our hands,” and may this place be ever glorified with the bright Shekinah cloud that all assembling here may be led to exclaim “This is none other than the house of God and this is the gate of heaven.”
The Building Committee consists of the following gentlemen: Mr. Levi James (chairman and treasurer), Rev. Lewis Beynon, Messrs. D. M. Palmer, M. A. Stephens (secretary), O. P. Davies, Lewis Evans, J. M. Jones, W. Morgan, and O. B. Evans. These walls we to Thine honour raise, Long may they echo with thy praise; And Thou, descending, fill the place With choicest tokens of thy grace. Here let the great Redeemer reign, With all the graces of His train While power divine his word attends To conquer foes, and cheer his friends. And in the great decisive day, When God the nations shall survey, May it before the world appear, Many were born to glory here.—Newton.
Dr. Rees then made some few pertinent remarks, exhorting all present to follow the hon. member for the Borough in his liberality towards all religious causes. He felt proud that they had such a good man to represent them in Parliament. The English had their Samuel Morley, and the Welsh their David Davies. Young Wales was fast drifting into the use of the English language, consequently English places of worship would have to be provided for them. if they were to receive religious instruction. Welsh and English services in the same chapel had always proved a failure, as one party was sure to drive the other out. He was glad to see so many Welsh friends come together on the present occasion, and hoped that they would liberally support the English cause. The following cheques were then placed on the stone:—Mr. D. Davies, M.P., £l00 (Mr. Davies having previously sent a donation of £ 15 in answer to an appeal, which makes a total of £ 115); Mr Samuel Morley, £ 10; Mrs. and Mr. Davies Confectioners, £ 15; Capt. David Timothy, of the Ship Star of Brunswick (forwarded from Calcutta, per Mr. Wm. James, Ironmonger), £ 5; Mr. J. Lewis, William-street, £2.28. The sum realised was £ 132 2s. The Rev. T. J. Morris, Capel Mair, concluded with prayer, in Welsh.
THE LECTURE. At 7 p.m., the Rev. Dr. Rees, delivered his excellent lecture on “The Religious Revivals in Wales,” to a very large audience in the Calvinistic Methodist Chapel, kindly lent for the occasion. The eminent lecturer gave a graphic description of the religious and moral state of Wales, from some three hundred years ago down to the present day, and the persecutions the old fathers suffered at the hands of clergymen of the Church of England and the magistrates, because they preached the gospel to their fellow countrymen, who were in the fetters of ignorance and superstition. The usual votes of thanks were passed to the lecturer and chairman, and the meeting was brought to a close by the singing of a hymn and the pronouncing of the benediction by Dr. Rees. The lecture was well patronised, and no doubt a good sum was realised…”
The new chapel opened on 22nd October 1880. The following report appeared in the ‘Cardigan Observer‘ on 30th October 1880:
“…OPENING OF THE NEW ENGLISH CONGREGATIONAL CHAPEL. The opening services of the new Congregational Chapel, in this town, were commenced on Tuesday evening last, when, notwithstanding the very inclement state of the weather, the building was well filled. The Rev. L. Beynon, pastor of the church, opened the service, and the Revs. J. R. Webster, of Pembroke Dock, and the Rev. J. Davies, Glandwr, preached. The Rev. J. R. Webster ably and eloquently discoursed in English upon the tenth verse of the eighty-fourth Psalm and the Rev. Mr. Davies, in Welsh, on the seventh verse of the second chapter of Revelations. In the interval between the services, Mr. M. A. Stephens, the treasurer of the building fund, read a statement of the expenditure and receipts, by which it appeared that the chapel, with the site upon which it is built, had cost £1819 14s. 9d., the ground having cost £ 335. Towards this amount £ 1084 18s. 5d. had been subscribed, which with promises received amounting to £175, raise the total contributions to £ 1259 18s. 5d., leaving a balance of £ 559 16s. 4d. to be raised. The services were continued on Wednesday, when the Revs. J. R. Webster and W. Nicholson preached; at 2 o’clock, the Revs. D. Adams, B.A., and J. Newman Richards preached; and in the evening at 6, the Revs. J. R. Webster and W. Nicholson preached. The sermons throughout were of a very high order, and were listened to by large congregations. The total amount collected during the services was £ 66 16s. 4d.
The situation of the new building is one of the best in the town, being at the junction with High-street of the northern approach to the Mwldan, Bath-house, and the Brick, Tile, and Pottery Works of Messrs. Miles, Woodward and Co. The ground on which the chapel is built forms an eminence, and the building may be seen from most parts of the town. The building is of the pure Gothic style of architecture, and is constructed of dressed Cilgerran stone, while the facings and copings are of dressed bath-stone. The front is very lofty and imposing, the dark colour of the Cilgerran stone is relieved by the bath-stone copings. The portal is extremely well designed, being of bath-stone, richly carved. Two red Aberdeen granite pillars highly polished, support the groined Gothic arch forming the door, which is approached from the street by broad Cilgerran stone steps, with dwarf wall of same. The entrance doors are oak grained, broad and lofty, with ecclesiastical T hinges, in black. Above the door is a large centre window, with bath-stone mullions and carved keystone; there is a small window on top of this, and the front is terminated by a very neat finial of carved bath-stone. On each side of the portal are narrow windows of rolled glass. On passing the portal there is a capacious lobby, from which the chapel is entered by two doors, on the right and left, and on which the gallery approaches abut. The gallery is reached on either hand by a broad winding staircase, with varnished pitch-pine bannisters and railings; the staircase being neatly carpeted. The gallery occupies about one-third of the length of the building, and the seats are comfortable and roomy, affording accommodation for about 120 persons. A hand-rail of varnished pitch-pine, guards the gallery staircase. The seats are of yellow pine, clear varnished, with panelled backs, hat rail, book ledge, and a pitch-pine moulding, which produces a nice effect. Descending to the lobby-facing the portal is a large oblong ornamental window, of embossed, enamelled and coloured glass, of a pretty design, which lights the seats under the gallery. Over each entrance door is an ornamental fan-light in keeping with the window facing the portal. On entering, the general effect is bright and cheerful, the building being well lit by ten Gothic double windows, four on one side and six on the other. The walls are of stucco, of a light grey colour, and the roof is tilt-shaped, ceiled between the beams, which together with the ties and king posts are oak-stained pitch-pine, octagonal in shape. The beams rest on beautifully carved bath-stone trusses. These trusses are quite works of art, and reflect considerable credit on local workmanship. In each of the seven top ceiled panels is an ornamental plaster centrepiece, perforated for purposes of ventilation. The artificial lighting arrangements are of a very complete and highly ornamental character. Attached to the walls on either side, are bronze brackets with triple jets, while suspended from the centre panel of the ceiling is a very elegant burnished brass chandelier, sup- porting 35 jets, the suspending rod being coloured marine blue, picked out with gold. The seats are of yellow pine, with sloping panelled backs, hat rails, and book ledges. The seating arrangements throughout are very complete, the wing or side seats being sloped towards the door, thus affording increased facility for ingress and egress, and each seat is so arranged as to directly face the pulpit. In front of the large pew, which is very commodious and open at each end, is a space for the communion table, chairs, and harmonium. The table and chairs are of an elegant and chaste design, being richly carved, and ornamented with fret- work. The pulpit is of most massive, and yet chaste design, and the centre is carved out of solid pitch pine. A massive pedestal supports a dwarf pillar ornamented with Gothic panels, and this is surmounted by a deep capital, embellished with circular panels and Maltese crosses. On the top of which is a heavy moulding, and on this rests the reading desk. Abutting on each side of the centre is a square-faced, panelled wing, which is connected with the wall on the one side by a curved panelling, while at the other it is left open to receive the winding staircase by which the pulpit is reached. The staircase is guarded by a curved handrail with spiral pillars. On the extremities of the pulpit wings are gas standards, supporting ornamental bronze fixings, with triple jets, in keeping with the side brackets. Behind the pulpit is a shallow recess in dark grey, relieved at the edges by pillars in white, with ornamental carved capitals. Over the recess is a circular mullioned window in stained cathedral glass. The front of the gallery is of close diagonal boarding, relieved over the iron supporting pillars, which are in black and gold, with circular panels and Maltese crosses. Under the gable end of the building are apartments for the accommodation of the chapel-keeper. The whole building, which is one of the most handsome in South Wales, was constructed from the designs of Mr. Peter Price, of Cardiff. Great credit is due to Messrs. Levi James, M. A. Stephens, O. P. Davies, Lewis Evans, D. M. Palmer, Wm. Morgan, O. B. Evans, and the Rev. L. Beynon, under whose superintendence the greater part of the building was erected by day work…”
In 1883 Launcelot Lowther, D. M. Palmer, and M. A. Stephens were Deacons. A surprise religious census in 1884 showed 39 attending in the morning and 45 in the evening. On 7th September 1884 Rev. Melchodia Evans, formerly of Saundersfoot, became the Pastor. On 31st May 1885 Rev. Melchodia Evans lived at Pomona Cottages, St. Dogmaels. Average Sunday attendance in 1887 was said to be 48 persons. In October 1887 the brief history of the chapel was noted in the chapel book:
“…The Foundation stone being laid on the day of 7th May 1879 by David Davies Esq. M. P. Llandinam who acted on the occasion with his wonted liberality. The present eligible building was opened for Public worship on the 17th October 1880. The cost of site and building exceeded £1800. Starting with a considerable debt, strenuous efforts were made year by year to reduce and ultimately extinguish the debt and this under the Blessing of God has been successfully accomplished. And for assisting in which the Church is under a debt of gratitude to many kind friends both in Cardigan and the locality and still they can honestly say that considering the small numbers of its members and the position of most of these, the Church has done in this to the utmost and beyond what could have been expected…”
“…There remains at the present time merely the re-payment of some £50 by annual instalments this being the balance of a sum advanced by the Chapel Building Association towards the funds…”
“…In the Autumn of 1884 the Rev. M Evans became Pastor. We believe his Ministry has been blessed to the Church. There have been many admissions to Church fellowship. But although we have had no desertions our membership represents a total of about 40. There had always been a number of young people in Communion with us who after a few years of training at Cardigan proceed to large Centres to settle in life. Our Congregation has been therefore fluctuating. Our Baptist friends determined soon after we had decided to Build our New Chapel, to establish an English Community in Cardigan and this led to the withdrawal of many who had been for years regular attendants at our Services…”
On 26th November 1887 the following report appeared in the ‘Aberystwyth Observer‘:
“…ANNIVERSARY AND JUBILEE SERVICES. — The English Congregational Church, meeting at Hope Chapel, held their anniversary and jubilee services on Sunday, the officiating ministers being the Revs Lyndon Parkyn, Swansea, and John Thomas, Bryn, Llanelly; the former in English and the latter in Welsh At two p.m., a jubilee meeting was held, to commemorate the founding of the church in 1837. The chair was taken by the Rev T. J. Morris, pastor of the Welsh. Congregational Church, who called upon Mr L Lowther to give a resume of the history of the church since its foundation. The present chapel was opened in October, 1880, having been built at a cost of £ 1,800 all of which has been paid, with the exception of £ 50. Addresses were also delivered by Messrs Thomas Griffiths (who remembered the church being formed), Alderman Levi James (who joined the church in 1840), M. A. Stephens, and Revs M. Evans, pastor, J. Williams, (B), G. Hughes (B), and J. Thomas (I), Llanelly. On Monday evening, the Rev N. L. Parkyn delivered his popular lecture on Will you be a Reed or an Oak ?” The chair was taken by Alderman Levi James, J.P…”
On 26th November 1887 the ‘Cardigan Observer‘ reported the following:
“…HOPE CHAPEL ANNIVERSARY AND JUBILEE SERVICES. The English Congregational Church, meeting at Hope Chapel, held their anniversary and jubilee services on Sunday last, the officiating ministers being the Revs. Lyndon Parkyn, Swansea, and John Thomas, Bryn, Llanelly; the former in English and the latter in Welsh.
JUBILEE MEETING. At 2 p.m., a jubilee meeting was held, to commemorate the founding of the church in 1837. The meeting was opened by the Rev. J. Thomas, Llanelly, by reading a portion of scripture and prayer. The Rev. M. Evans, pastor, having offered a few preliminary remarks, said that the English Church was a branch from Capel Mair, and as that church had shown them great kindness, he moved that the Rev. T. J. Morris take the chair. The Rev. T. J. Morris having taken the chair, said that it was intended to confine each speaker to ten minutes. That meeting took them back fifty years, to the founding of the church at Hope, and it was impossible for any human being to state how much good was done in the town by the English cause. Many who had been the means of carrying on the cause there had taken their departure to another world. Mr. L. Lowther having been called to speak, gave a concise resume’ of the history of the church.
Soon after the advent of Mr. Thos. Lloyd, iron-monger, to the town, who established a chain and iron works in the place, and consequently engaged a number of workmen, who, mostly, were English people and Nonconformists, the desirability of establishing an English cause was felt, and Mr. Lloyd took steps in that direction, assisted by the church at Capel Mair, the result being the opening of Hope Chapel in October, 1837. The first pastor was the Rev. David Phillips, who remained for some years, and was succeeded by the Rev. Richard Hancock, who left somewhere about the year 1850. During this period the small chapel was well filled, and the church was fairly prosperous. Mr. Lloyd now determined to abandon his business, transferring the ironmongery business to Mr. Levi James, and discontinuing the chain and anchor works. This led to the dispersion of the work-people, and consequent lessening of membership at Hope.
The Rev. Robert Breeze became pastor in 1854 he remained but a short time, obtaining employment elsewhere. Then followed a period when the church was without a pastor, and dependent upon supplies, which were exceedingly irregular and difficult to obtain, from the fact of Hope Chapel at this time being the only English Nonconformist place of worship in the county. Still, despite this very serious disadvantage, the church remained united and fairly successful. The Rev. Daniel Davies, pastor of the sister church at Capel Mair, supplied so often as was possible during this time. In 1858, the lease held by Mr. Lloyd expired, and the owner of the free-hold gave the church notice to quit. Soon after-wards the whole premises were advertised for sale, in one lot. We ineffectually endeavoured to induce the owner’s agent to separate Hope Chapel from the other premises. Prior to the public sale, the friends came to an understanding with Mr. Levi James that, if he purchased the whole premises, he would re-convey the chapel to the trustees for one-fourth of the purchase money of the whole. Fortunately the premises were knocked down for the sum of £500, consequently the friends obtained their chapel for £125. This sum was soon obtained, through the kind assistance of many local and other friends, and the building was duly enrolled in the Court of Chancery.
Under the advice of the Rev. Daniel Davies, the church was induced to call to the pastorate a young student from New Quay-David Jones, studying in Cardigan for a town missionary—and he was admitted some time about the year 1861, and remained until the year 1865. Another interval followed, when the church was without a minister, but about August, 1867, the Rev. John Newman Richards accepted the pastorate, and remained between five and six years. After an interval of a few months from his leaving, Mr. Richards was succeeded by the Rev. Lewis Beynon, from Bristol.
At this time a suggestion was made by a valued member that some improvement should be attempted in the arrangement of the chapel, which was exceedingly inconvenient, the situation being also very bad—in a narrow lane. After consideration, it was determined that a better site should be secured and a new chapel erected. The carrying out of this was facilitated by the Good Templars being desirous of obtaining a hall for their meetings. Negotiations with them eventuated in an arrangement for the purchase of the old chapel. This at once started the building fund with £ 200, and Mr. Beynon being exceedingly active throughout the district in collecting, a sum was secured which justified the officers of the church in purchasing a suitable freehold site at Pendre, and the church making really serious sacrifices in their subscriptions the building was commenced.
The foundation stone was laid on 7th of May, 1879, by Mr. David Davies, M.P., of Llandinam, who acted on the occasion with his wonted liberality. The present eligible building was opened for public worship on the 27th of October, 1880. The cost of site and building exceeded £ 1800. Starting with a considerable debt, strenuous efforts were made year after year to reduce and ultimately extinguish it; and this, under the blessing of God, has been successfully accomplished. And for assisting in which the church is under a debt of gratitude to many kind friends both in Cardigan and the locality and still they can honestly say that, considering the small number of its members, and the position of most of these, the church has done in this to the utmost, and beyond what could have been expected. There remains at the present time merely the repayment of some £50 by annual instalments, this being the balance of a sum advanced by the Chapel Building Association towards the funds.
In the autumn of 1884, the Rev. M. Evans became pastor, and we have reason to believe his ministry has been blessed to the church. There have been many admissions to church fellowship but although we have had no desertions, our membership only represents a total of but 40. There have always been a number of young people in communion with us, who, after a few years of training at Cardigan, proceed to large centres to settle in life. The congregation has, therefore, been fluctuating. The Baptist friends determined, soon after we had decided to build our new chapel, to establish an English community in Cardigan, and this led to the withdrawal of many who had been for years regular attendants at our services. The review of the past 50 years is most encouraging in the success attending our endeavours to erect a commodious building for the worship of God. They hoped the church would be animated by a lively faith to renewed efforts to strengthen what is wanting amongst them, in humble dependence upon the grace which will be given if sought through Christ Jesus.
Mr. Thomas Griffiths, draper, who spoke in Welsh, said he well remembered the time when the English church at the Hope was founded. Prior to that time Capel Mair’s service used to be partly English and partly Welsh, when a number of friends from the Established Church attended the evening service. There were also two Sunday schools-the English in the gallery, and the Welsh on the floor of the chapel Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd were very earnest Christians, and found a strong supporter in the Rev. Daniel Davies, the respected pastor of Capel Mair. Until the English church at Hope was founded, there was no service at the parish church on Sunday evenings. The object in establishing the Hope was to provide for the wants of English Nonconformists who came to the town. They did not expect much progress for years but still the cause had been supported fairly hitherto. He would conclude in the words of St. Paul to the Corinthians: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in in vain the Lord.”
Mr. Alderman James, J.P., said that now he was one of the oldest members of the Church, having joined it in the year 1840, when he came from Narberth to Mr. Lloyd’s service. The gospel had been preached to them in its purity, and unity had always prevailed among the members. The church was greatly indebted to the pastor and members at Capel Mair, and the public generally. He concluded with the words of the Psalmist, “Peace be unto thee,” &c.
The Rev. John Thomas, Llanelly, next gave his recollections of the various causes in the town, as well as that of Hope Chapel, some 40 years ago, and concluded that he did not coincide with some people who contended that the world was getting worse, but that his experience was that it was improving very much. The Rev. M, Evans said that the debt incurred in buying the site and building the new chapel had been all wiped off, with the exception of £50 borrowed without interest from the Congregational Union Building Fund, which had to be repaid by instalments of £18 annually.
Mr. M. A. Stephens next gave his experience in endeavouring to find out Hope Chapel when he first came to the town fourteen years ago as it was situated in a very inconvenient and out-of-the-way place. That was the only English Nonconformist place of worship in the town at that time. Though the members were composed of all denominations, they sank their little differences, and worked harmoniously together. The present edifice was the result of a strong wish for a better and a more convenient place of worship. There was something very striking in their Jubilee. They had just completed their seventh year in their new chapel; this year was the Queen’s Jubilee and their debt was £50, which they wished to get rid of, and then they would rejoice. All in that church worshipped God in accordance with their consciences.
The Rev. John Williams, Bethania, was next called to address the meeting. What they saw and heard that day, he maintained, proved the power and value of the voluntary principle. The history of the Church at Hope Chapel disproved the assertions of the Rev. A. G. Edwards, vicar of Carmarthen, that Nonconformity was a failure in Wales. Nonconformists should rejoice in the liberty they enjoyed, and from that day work out their principles with the greatest fidelity. The Rev. G. Hughes, Mount Zion, offered a few congratulatory remarks, and wished the church in the place every success. A collection was made at the close of the service to liquidate the debt remaining on the chapel.
THE LECTURE. On Monday evening the Rev. Lyndon Parkyn delivered his popular lecture on Will you be a Reed or an Oak ? to an appreciative, though not a numerous audience. The chair was ably filled by Mr. Alderman James, J.P., Caemorgan. The lecturer, in his introductory remarks, said that the lessons contained in the lecture were mainly intended for young persons, and the subject was “John the Baptist, or stability of character.” The first part of the lecture treated on stability, thoroughness, and perseverance the second part embraced adherence to commission, singleness of aim in all deeds, dignity of labour success was not a thing to be bought in a cheap market, or reached by a series of high leaps, but the result of hard study and perseverance purity of character, resisted evil influences. The able and eloquent lecturer concluded by appealing to the audience to throw their lot on the side of goodness, right, and God, and stand firm and immovable under the undue pressure of the ways of the world. During an interval Miss Laura Lowther sang a solo, Miss Edith Daniel playing the accompaniment Miss Letitia Evans, Lion-terrace, also sang a solo, Miss L. Lowther accompanying. A vote of thanks—proposed by the Rev. T. J. Morris, seconded by the Rev. John Thomas—was passed to Mr. Parkyn for his able, eloquent, and instructive lecture, which was duly acknowledged. Mr. Parkyn moved a vote of thanks to the Chairman for so ably presiding over the meeting, which was seconded by the Rev. M. Evans, enthusiastically passed, and acknowledged. The singing of the Doxology and an earnest prayer by Mr. Parkyn brought the proceedings to a close…”
In May 1888 Rev. Melchodia Evans left to take charge of a church at Brecon. On 5th May 1888 the following report appeared in the ‘Cardigan Observer‘:
“…FAREWELL MEETING AT HOPE CHAPEL. On Monday evening last a public meeting was held for the purpose of presenting the Rev. M. Evans, pastor of the English Congregational Church assembling at Hope Chapel during the last three-and a-half years, on his leaving to take charge of a church at Brecon. The Rev. T. J. Morris (Capel Mair) having conducted the introductory part of the service, Alderman James, Caemorgan, was elected to the chair. The Chairman expressed bis sorrow at the severance that was about to take place between the church and their faithful and energetic pastor. They would gladly have retained Mr. Evans’ services had they, as a church, been in a position to pay him sufficient salary; but as they were a weak church, and as Mr. Evans’ family was increasing, it was out at the question to expect him to remain with them when he had been offered a more extensive field of labour and a better salary. During his stay among them Mr. Evans had preached the gospel in its fullness and purity, and discharged his duties very faithfully. He hoped that his future care would prove to be the people of his comfort. The farewell sermon, preached on the previous evening by Mr Evans, commended their church to the live of God and to His grace and he (the speaker) could reciprocate the kind feeling and sympathy which were expressed. Messrs. M A Stephens; L Lowther; D M Palmer, B A; Henry R Daniel; Alderman Lewis Evans; James Davies; and the Rev. T J Morris all spoke to Mr Evans’ faithfulness in the performance of his duties…and to the general regret on the occasion of his leaving, and all united in wishing him large measure of success in his new sphere of labour. The Chairman having endorsed all the sentiments expressed by the speakers, said he had one pleasing duty to perform, and that was to present Mr. Evans, on behalf of the Church, with a purse of gold, as a small token of their affection and esteem for him. Mr. Evans, acknowledging the kind sentiments expressed, and the gift just handed to him, said he had not, since he first came among them, experienced anything but kindness from the inhabitants generally. The church members had been very faithful since he had been in charge, and he had endeavoured to the best of his ability to perform his duty, and lead them to the great truths of the Christian religion. He hoped the love of God would abide with them and himself for ever. The singing of In the sweet By-and-by,” and the pronouncing of the Benediction brought the meeting to a close…”
On 4th October 1890 the following report appeared in the ‘Aberystwyth Observer‘:
“…CARDIGAN. ORDINATION.—On Sunday, the anniversary of Hope English Congregational Church in this town was held, when the Revs W. C. Jenkins, Kidwelly, and J. E. Griffiths, Pembroke Dock, officiated. On Monday evening an ordination service was held, presided over by the Rev T. J. Morris, Capel Mair, for the purpose of recognising Mr T. C. Evans, of Kidwelly, a student of the Presbyterian College, Carmarthen, as the new pastor of the church. The church was established some 53 years ago, and has had some six or seven ministers, but this was the first ordination which had taken place in connection with it. Mr Evans is young, able, and energetic. The service was introduced by the Rev David Phillips, Brynberian. The question to the minister and charge to the pastor were given by the Rev W. C. Jenkins, Kidwelly, and to the church and congregation by Professor Jones, Carmarthen. Addresses of welcome to the new minister were given by Messrs L. Lowther and M. A. Stephens, deacons of the church, and the Revs G. Davies (C.M.), G. Hughes (B.), W. Jones (C M.), and W. Jones, (Moylgrove)…”
In 1891 Jane Bateman, 64, widow, lived at the Chapel House and cleaned the chapel. On 6th February 1893 Hope English Congregational Chapel became licensed for the solemnising of marriages. In November 1893 Rev. T. C. Evans, the Minister, left for Tabernacle, Aberdare. In January 1894 a presentation was made to Rev. T. C. Evans of 19 religious volumes on behalf of the Church. Messrs. Lancelot Lowther, D. M. Palmer and Mr. M. A. Stephens were the Deacons.
In August 1895 Rev. David Garro Jones of Bryn Sion, Pembrokeshire, accepted the Pastorate. On 6th October 1895 Rev. David Garro Jones became the Pastor and remained so in 1895-1901. On 28th November 1897 the Pastor’s wages were set at £100 per year. In December 1898 the chapel was left a small endowment by the recently-deceased Senior Deacon, Levi James of Caemorgan Mansion. In 1899 the chapel was described as a ‘…handsome building…’ On 29th January 1899 Henry R. Daniel and John Elias James were elected Deacons. In February 1899 it was decided to offer the chapel house to Mrs. Mulrain, the caretaker, or to repair it and rent it out. In 1900 David Morris lived at Hope Chapel House, following repairs there. Launcelot Lowther, David M. Palmer and J. E. James were the Deacons, the latter also acting as treasurer and Launcelot Lowther as Secretary. In February 1901 Rev. David Garro Jones left for Llandrindod Wells. The congregation at Hope presented him with an illuminated address and a purse of gold upon his departure. In 1901 the following persons lived at the chapel house: David Morris, 36, carter for corporation; Eliza Morris, 38, his wife, Welsh-speaking; Elizabeth Morris, 13, their daughter; Hannah Morris, 11, daughter; Mary Morris, 9, daughter; and Tom Morris, 7, son. Except where noted otherwise, all were bilingual and born at Llandygwydd.
On 3rd November 1901 E. Griffiths became the Treasurer and J. E. Jones the Secretary. On 4th May 1902 Mr. Owen of Glantivy, Priory Street, became the Treasurer after E. L. Griffiths left. On 12th October 1902 Rev. Evan Evans, lately a student at Edinburgh College, agreed to become the new Pastor. On 4th January 1903 Rev. Evan Evans was ordained as the new Minister. On 4th October 1903 W. W. Smith became the Treasurer. Rev. Evan Evans, Minister, died aged 30 on 4th May 1905, following an illness of some months’ duration. On 9th May 1905 Elizabeth Davies of the Chapel House died aged 69.
In January 1906 Rev. J. Morda Evans, formerly of Oswestry, became the Pastor until 1911. In June 1906, new Trustees were elected: E. Coleman, John Daniel and J. Elias James. On 30th September 1906 new Deacons were elected: John Daniel, Edward Mathias, William Phillips and J. W. W. Smith. On 14th October 1906 Fred Mulrain became the Secretary and on 28th October 1906 John Daniel became the Treasurer. In August 1907 James Davies, Deacon, died. In 1908 J. W. W. Smith and Lewis Evans, Deacons, died. By 5th June 1908 a new organ had been installed. In 1910-13 David Morris lived at the chapel house. In April 1911 Rev. J. Morda Evans left, having received the “call” to Prees, Shropshire. The congregation presented him with an illuminated address and a purse of gold.
On 12th February 1912 it was agreed to remove the trees in front of the chapel. The Deacons at that time were David M. Palmer, John Elias James, John Daniel and William Phillips. On 7th June 1912 Rev. W. Whittington of Roath Park, Cardiff, accepted the call as the new Minister. His recognition service was held here on 19th June 1912. In June 1913 Mr. & Mrs. Morris ceased to be the caretakers. In 1913 Mrs. Sarah Evans became the caretaker. On 2nd July 1917 David Roberts and James Idwal Jones were elected Deacons. In March 1918 Private T. J. Evans lived at Hope Chapel House. On 3rd June 1919 Mrs. Whittington, wife of the Minister, died. On 14th April 1921 the minister, Rev. W. Whittington, married Mrs. Emily Tapson. On 5th March 1922 David Morris of William Street became a Deacon. On 22nd March 1923 Edward Percy Mathias became the Treasurer. On 5th August 1924 the funeral was held of David Evans of Hope Chapel House, who had died aged 52. In December 1924 W. Williams was elected a Deacon. In December 1924 Rev. W. Whittington, the Minister, died aged 56 from pneumonia.
In February 1925 Miss Mathias and Mrs. Daniel became the first Deaconesses of the Chapel – the first Chapel in Cardigan to elect female Deacons. On 1st July 1928 Rev. Thomas John Walters, formerly of Middle Hill and Hook, became the new Minister. In February 1930 D. T. James resigned as Secretary. On 25th April 1930 tenders were sought for conducting repairs. By 25th July 1930 electric lights had been installed – the gift of D. T. James, Gwalia House. On 29th December 1932 Rev. T. John Walters, the Minister, died aged 65, and was buried on 2nd January 1933.
On 1st September 1933 Rev. T. E. Morris, formerly of Carmarthen Presbyterian College, was inducted as the Minister and remained here until 1938. In 1934-48 Mrs. Sarah Evans lived at the chapel house. On 8th February 1934 Rev. T. E. Morris, Minister, married Miss Muriel Evans of Swansea. In September 1934 tenders were sought for repairs. In 1935-36 £300 was spent on repairs, including new windows. On 16th November 1936 David Morris of No. 27 William Street, Deacon, died. In December the centenary of the congregation was celebrated. In March 1938 Albert Phillips, precentor of Hope Chapel, was presented with a clock by the members as a mark of their appreciation for his services. He was a G. W. R. driver, recently promoted. On 20th April 1938 Pastor Rev. T. E. Morris left for Painswick, Gloucestershire.
On 11th June 1939 Rev. James Medlicott of Cwmbran, was ordained the Minister. Rev. James Medlicott accepted another calling to Shrewsbury in May 1945 and left on 4th September 1945. He was presented with an oak bowl and a wallet of money. On 5th October 1945 Rev. T Perkins accepted the calling here.
On 6th January 1946 Rev. Thomas Perkins took the service here for the first time. On 1st February 1946 Rev. Thomas Perkins, formerly of Park Church, Llanelli, became the new Pastor. On 17th September 1948 Mr. W. M. H. Williams left after more than 25 years as Deacon, organist and Secretary. In 1949 Mrs. Sarah Evans retired after 36 years as chapel caretaker and Ivor Wheeler moved to the chapel house.
On 7th November 1951 Rev. B. T. Davies was inducted as the new Minister. On 10th May 1953 the recently redecorated building was re-opened and re-dedicated by its recently-retired former Minister, Rev. T. Perkins. There were 56 members. In 1953-55 Ifor George Wheeler and Marion Wheeler lived at Hope Chapel House. In December 1959 Minister Rev. B. T. Davies died at his Borth home. On 30th January 1966 the chapel closed after its’ final Sunday service.
On 26th December 1969 the building was proposed as a new home for Cardigan Library. On 17th September 1971 it was revealed that the Welsh Office intended to purchase the building with a view to demolition. Demolition began on 19th January 1976, the aim being to widen the road junction.
The site was being redeveloped with small shop units from late 2011 through 2012 and into early 2013, removing the last vestiges of the chapel.
Old photographs show gable-fronted 3-bay façade with centre projected forward in cut blue lias with sandstone dressings, quoins and string course to raised plinth. Small arched headed vent to gable with finial above. Massive tripartite traceried arched-headed centre window with Gothic detail and decorative architrave with rounded side pilasters. Corbelled course to sides. Two roundels with Gothic detail to outer bays with full length string course below. Ground floor outer bays have pointed arched-headed tall narrow windows with light Gothic detail. Massive centre door with chamfered hood on rounded pilasters with decorative heads. Traceried detail, in Gothic style with trefoils above paired timber doors, separated by similar rounded pilaster. Paired iron gates with spearheads and dog bars with squared piers having pointed heads, flanked by low wall with locally-made wrought iron rails. Rails have trefoil motif in Gothic style.
Census Returns 1871; 1891; 1901
Hope Chapel Records
Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser 1879-80; 1885; 1887; 1893-95; 1901; 1903; 1905; 1908; 1911-12
1918-19; 1921; 1924; 1927-28; 1930; 1932-41; 1945-46; 1948-49; 1951; 1953; 1959; 1968-69; 1971; 1976
Cardigan Observer 1884; 1887; 1888
Kelly’s Directory of South Wales 1884; 1914
A Guide to Cardigan & District, William Edward Yerward James 1899
List of Voters – Cardigan 1900; 1910
Ticket – Public Meeting – Hope Chapel 19/06/1912
Register of Electors – Cardigan 1912; 1955
Card – Pew Rents, Hope Chapel 12/10/1914
The Gateway to Wales, W J Lewis 1991.
© Glen K Johnson 26/08/2013