• PENYBRYN BAPTIST CHAPEL

    by  • July 1, 2013 • Bridell, Chapel, Modern, Pembrokeshire, Period, Post-Medieval, Site Type • 20 Comments

    History:

    In 1809 reference was made to ‘Ebenezer Meeting House’ in Bridell parish – perhaps an earlier Baptist chapel, named as an off-shoot of Ebenezer, Dyfed. In 1818 Thomas Williams of Glanpwllafon, St. Dogmaels, granted a piece of land for building a Baptist Chapel here for 1s. per annum for 5,000 years. The chapel building was begun on 14th May 1818. On 13th May 1819 it opened as a branch of Ebenezer Baptist Chapel with Rev. W. R. Davies acting as the Minister. On 27th June 1819 Elizabeth Williams, wife of Thomas Williams of Glanpwllafon, was the first to be baptised here at the age of 80. There was a Baptist school here in 1830. In 1833 there were 65 members and the chapel broke with Ebenezer and became a full member of the Baptist Association. Some time after this Rev. Jesse Jones became the first Minister. In 1838 David Toby became a Deacon. He kept a “smwglins” at Ivy Cottage. In 1840 Rev. John Lloyd became the Minister according to one source. In 1843 Rev. Jesse Jones, the first Minister here, left his post after having been given a year’s notice. At about the same time senior Deacon Thomas Griffiths, Glynhenllan Uchaf, Cilgerran, died. In 1844 Ben Williams and David Edwards were excommunicated for unseemly behaviour at St. Lawrence’s Fair, Cilgerran. In 1850 Rev. Morris Evans took charge of the chapel and Penuel Baptist Chapel, Cilgerran, with a stipend of £25. In 1851 there were 275 attendees on Sunday mornings and 130 for the evening service.

    On 30th August 1855 Rev. Simon Parry-Jones became the Minister. He died on 20th March 1859 aged 30. Rev. T. Jones succeeded in 1860 and the chapel became formally linked with Penuel, Cilgerran. In 1861 there were 130 members and 70 scholars. Rev. T. Jones left the area in 1866. The old chapel building was pulled down and rebuilt in 1869 with iron columns inside by T. Thomas of Bridge End Foundry, Cardigan. On 12th May 1870 the chapel was licensed to solemnize marriages. The new chapel opened on 25th December 1871. It had cost £400. 7s. 6d. to build. The pulpit was from Old Bethania, Pendre, Cardigan, and the vestry was built with stone from the earlier chapel here.

    In 1871 Rev. George Hughson Griffiths became the Minister until 1875. In 1876 Rev. William Ogwenydd Evans became the new Minister. On 9th February 1878 the following appeared in the ‘Cardigan Observer‘:

    “…CONCERT.— A concert was held at Penybryn Baptist Chapel, on Wednesday evening last, presided over by the Rev. T. Phillips, Verwig, and conducted by the Rev. W. O. Evans, Cilgerran. The following choirs took part:—Penybryn, Penuel and Capel y Babell, Cilgerran, Greenfield- square, Cardigan, and Glanrhyd, together with Miss Anne Lloyd and Mr. G. Biddyr, St. Dogmells. Miss Evangeline Evans, Penralltcadogan, presided at the harmonium. During the concert addresses were delivered by the Revs. Seth Jones, St. Dogmells, G. H. Griffiths, Newcastle Emlyn, and J. P. Davies, Ebenezer. There was a large audience, and the proceeds were towards liquidating the debt on Salem Baptist chapel, Briton Ferry, which church is now under the pastoral care of the Rev. J. Jones (Mathetes.)…”

    In 1881 the first Sunday School outing to Poppit, St. Dogmaels, took place. In February 1884 William Lewis, carpenter, became a Deacon. Rev. William Cynon Evans became the new Minister in 1885. The annual chapel outing to Poppit, took place on 11th August 1892. In 1892 Rev. William Cynon Evans left the area. Rev. Edwin Watkins became the new Minister in 1894 or 1896. In 1901 Rev. Edwin Watkins left. In 1902 the Baptist Association held a meeting here.

    Rev. A. H. Rees in 1930 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    Rev. A. H. Rees in 1930 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    Rev. J. Glyndwr Watkins became the Minister in August 1903. In May 1908 tenders were sought for painting and redecoration. In 1908 Rev. J. Glyndwr Watkins left, and in 1910 Rev. John Thomas took charge and remained the pastor until 1927.  In 1911 Asa Evans George (of Ffynnoncoronau) was the Secretary and John James was the treasurer. Other Deacons were Jonathan George (Ffynnoncoronau), David Thomas and William Thomas. Miss Mary R. E. Morris (Broyan, Llantood) was the organist. On 11th March 1917 Deacon Jonathan George of Penalltcadwgan, Cilgerran, formerly of Ffynnoncoronau, died aged 79. Rev. John Thomas left in 1927, and in 1930 Rev. Arthur Haydn Rees became the Minister. On 6th May 1941 Deacon David Edwards of Penybryn died aged 77. In February 1948 Enos George of Clos Villa and Dewi James of Clos farm became Deacons. On 4th October 1957 Thomas James of Broyan, Llantood, Deacon and Treasurer here, died aged 80. Rev. Arthur Haydn Rees was still the pastor in 1958.

    Flyer for Penybryn Baptist Chapel Eisteddfod, 12/02/1971 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    Flyer for Penybryn Baptist Chapel Eisteddfod, 12/02/1971 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    On 5th March 1971 William John Lewis of Llys-y-Coed, Cardigan, Deacon and Secretary, died aged 77. Rev. T. R. Jones was the Minister from at least 1973 until at least 1994. In 1979-81 Andrew Williams was a Deacon. In 1979-86 Elfed Owen, Idris James, Dewi James, Ceri Davies and Richard Lewis were the Deacons. In 1986 Deacon Richard Lewis died and Neville Morris, Berwyn Lewis, Arthur James and Eilir Lewis became Deacons. By 1990 Dilwyn James was also a Deacon. In 1992 Deacon Arthur James died. The building was listed in 1994. Rev. T. R. Jones, Minister, died in 2006. In May 2011 Rev. R. T. Morgan was the Minister.

    Description:

    Penybryn Baptist Chapel in March 1999 (c) Glen K Johnson

    Penybryn Baptist Chapel in March 1999 (c) Glen K Johnson

    In 1994 the building was described by CADW:

    EXTERIOR – 1869 Baptist Chapel in banded Cilgerran stone with slate roof and fretted bargeboards. Gable front with lunette plaque ‘Penybryn Baptist chapel built in the year 1818 Rebuilt 1869’. Three first-floor arched windows, two ground floor windows and centre door all with cambered heads. Cut stone voussoirs, slate sills, sashes with marginal glazing bars and double 2-panel doors with overlight. Raised band between floors. Two-storey, two-window sides, with similar windows. One arched rear window.

    INTERIOR – Box pews, three-sided gallery with long horizontal panels, fluted iron columns made by T. Thomas of Cardigan. Pulpit possibly later, recess behind with cornice.

    Front spearhead railings with dog-bars, pair of wrought iron gates with scrolls. End stone piers with pyramid caps.

    An attractive C19 chapel with unusual banded stonework. Similar to Ty Rhos Chapel, Rhos Hill…”

    Sources:

    The Religious Census of 1851

    Dyddiadur y Bedyddwyr 1861

    Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser 1870-71; 1902; 1908; 1912; 1917; 1930; 1935; 1937; 1941; 1948;

            1957-58; 1971

    Penybryn Baptist Chapel Annual Report 1911; 1979; 1980; 1981; 1982; 1983-84; 1984-5; 1986; 1987; 1990; 1991; 1992; 1993/4

    Poster – Annual Meeting – Penybryn Baptist Chapel 27/08/1939

    Poster – Meeting, Penybryn Baptist Chapel 20/03/1949

    Poster – Annual Meeting, Penybryn Baptist Chapel 27/08/1950

    Give Me Yesterday, James Williams 1971

    Buildings of Architectural or Historic Interest – Cilgerran, Julian Orbach, CADW 1993

    Penybryn Baptist Chapel Monumental Inscriptions.

    Cilgerran Coracle No. 19, 2007.

    © Glen K Johnson 01/07/2013

    GALLERY

    Rev. William Cynon Evans, 1885 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    Rev. William Cynon Evans, 1885 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    William Cynon Evans, Minister of Penybryn Chapel 1885-92

    Rev. Edwin Watkins, 1896 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    Rev. Edwin Watkins, 1896 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    Rev. Edwin Watkins Minister of Penybryn Chapel 1894-1901

    Rev. John Thomas, Minister of Penybryn chapel 1910-27

    Rev. John Thomas, Minister of Penybryn chapel 1910-27

    Rev. John Thomas Minister of Penybryn 1910-27

    Cover of 1911 Annual Report for Penybryn Chapel 08/05/1912 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    Cover of 1911 Annual Report for Penybryn Chapel 08/05/1912 (Glen Johnson Collection)

    Cover of 1911 Annual Report for Penybryn Chapel (Glen Johnson Collection)

    About

    20 Responses to PENYBRYN BAPTIST CHAPEL

    1. Arnold Rogers
      July 13, 2013 at 7:41 am

      Hello Mr Johnson,
      I am researching my family history relating back to Mary Watkins of Tymawr, or Sergeants Inn,
      Eglwyswrw. Mary was the daughter of Rowland Watkins.
      I have a manuscript from J. Picton James of Swansea who states that the Watkins family goes back
      in historical time and Rowland Watkins was a founder and trustee of Ebenezer Dyfed (Baptist Church)
      near Eglwyswrw.
      Would it be possible for me to obtain any more information concerning these matters?
      I would greatly appreciate any information that you may have.
      Arnold Rogers

      • glen
        July 13, 2013 at 8:26 am

        Thanks for your query. I’m sorry to say that I don’t cover Eglwyswrw in my researches, but I’m pretty certain that the National Library of Wales has information on Ebenezer Chapel. I’m also fairly certain that a booklet has been written in Welsh about that chapel. There is a lively historical society in Eglwyswrw, and they might be of assistance to you. The County Records Office in Haverfordwest might also have helpful information on the ‘Sergeant’s Arms’.

        Please contact me again if I can be of more help.

        Regards

        Glen

        • Maggie
          July 20, 2014 at 8:38 pm

          Dear Glen
          I found your website by chance – serendipity, as it led me, via Vanessa, straight to an ancilliary branch of my tree. Is it possible for you to pass my email address directly to Vanessa please so that we can exchange further information direct?
          Many thanks
          Maggie

    2. John F Rees
      September 7, 2013 at 10:46 am

      Glen, thanks for the chat yesterday. I note re Baptist Chapel at Penybryn you refer to their Annual Reports 1911 to 1934.
      Please where might I be able to view these documents?
      With thanks
      John

      • glen
        September 7, 2013 at 10:57 am

        Hi John

        I have copies of the Annual Reports listed – 1911, and then a number from 1979 onwards. I’m not sure whether any are held in any public archive.

        Regards

        Glen

    3. Vanessa Bassett
      November 23, 2013 at 9:04 am

      Dear Mr. Johnson,
      I am researching my father’s family who lived in Llein Fforest. I noticed you cited a book I written by my great uncle James Williams in your article. The family of Morris Williams, James ‘s father, all worshipped in Penybryn and I wondered if you has come across any of them. Morris and his wife Martha are both buried in the graveyard there. Incidentally James wrote a wonderful description of the Sunday school trip to Poppit sands in his book
      Your site is a very interesting addition to the history of the area.
      Regards,
      Vanessa Bassett ( nee Williams)

      • glen
        November 23, 2013 at 9:43 am

        Hi Vanessa,
        Thank you for your kind comments. I’m afraid I’ve got little I can add on the history of the Williams’ of Lleine Forest, but if I come across anything else in my researches I’d be happy to pass it on. I love the book “Give Me Yesterday”!

        Regards

        Glen

      • Elfed Lewis
        December 14, 2013 at 12:00 am

        I have a number of annual reports for Pen y Bryn Cahapel, Morris and Martha were members there in 1818 but the report does not name any dwellings. The next report i have is 1924 and they lived in Llainfforest a cottage in the valley between Cefn / Penralltddu and Bridell with Jimmy ( always James in later reports), and shown as living in London and Egypt, Emrys some times living in Coventry, Burmingham and Southampton. Mabel moving to Resolven, and Carey ( only mentioned in the 1924 report – i have most of the reports from 1924 onwards ) 1929 and 1930 report shows them living in Brigydon, 1931 in Brynderwen, 1933/34 down as St Dogmaels, 1936 St Dogmaels Road and 1937 as Dyfed, the dwelling that my uncle WJ Lewis built for them in St Dogmaels Road. WJ Lewis made the coffin for Morris and is also mentioned in Give me Yesterday. My parents and their siblings were brought up with the Llainfforest children and i remember Jim Lainfforest and Ems Llainfforest as my parents used to know them. The first time i saw an e type Jaguar was when James visited Pen y Bryn one Sunday morning when home on holiday. As you know they are buried in Pen y Bryn chapel graveyard Morris died October 18 1946 age 70 and Martha Ann March 30 1949 age 55.

        • glen
          December 14, 2013 at 11:01 am

          Thank-you Elfed for sending this information for Vanessa. I have only one Annual Report for Penybryn, which is the 1911 one (I’d be happy to send you a digital copy of this if you’d like it), so all this information was new to me. Very grateful to you for your valuable help!

          Kind Regards, Glen

        • Vanessa Bassett
          December 14, 2013 at 4:25 pm

          I was thrilled to read the comment by Mr. Elfed Lewis. The chapel reports are a mine of information. I knew that Martha and Morris lived in Lleinfforest and in Dyfed in St. Dogmaels but all the other addresses are news to me.
          Uncle Jim loved fast cars and the last one he had that I remember was a Porsche so the E type Jaguar comes as no surprise. It is lovely to hear from someone who remembers the family. Thank you so much for sending the information!
          Vanessa Bassett

      • Maggie
        July 20, 2014 at 5:55 pm

        Dear Vanessa
        I notice your connection to James Williams. Is this the james Williams who wrote ‘Give me Yesterday’ and had a sister named Mabel anf brothers Emry and Carey?
        If so, is it possible for us to communicate independently please?
        regards
        Maggie

        • Vanessa Bassett
          July 20, 2014 at 7:55 pm

          Hello Maggie,
          Yes it is the same James Williams. My Grandfather Jack was his eldest brother. It would be great to communicate independently. What is your connection with the family?
          Vanessa

          • Maggie
            July 20, 2014 at 8:34 pm

            Hi Vanessa
            Thank you for such a speedy reply. My connection is indirect really – my father married Mabel in 1933. Sadly, she died in 1935. They had no children. My father remarried in 1945 and we used to visit Penybryn Chapel every Easter to put flowers on Mabel’s grave – a tradition I have tried to continue, though not necessarily at Easter. I have been researching my family tree and felt it only appropriate that Mabel and her family should be included. I have a copy of James’ book – I believe he called on my parents to deliver it in person, which was very kind. I am not quite sure how we can set about corresponding independently – any ideas?
            Regards
            Maggie

            • Vanessa Bassett
              July 20, 2014 at 8:57 pm

              How interesting! I have seen Mabel’ s grave in Penbryn but I know little about her. My mother thought that she had a shop near Neath. Do you still live in the area? I have some information about the immediate family of Mabel but there must be lots of the extended family still around. If we pool information we might be able to find them.
              Vanessa

            • Maggie
              July 21, 2014 at 9:17 am

              I have asked Glen to forward my email address to you as I doubt all this will be of interest to the general list.
              Regards
              Maggie

    4. Elfed Lewis
      December 19, 2013 at 8:49 pm

      Yes i would like a digital copy of the 1911 Pen y Bryn Chapel report. Congratulations Glen you have a brilliant ‘ site’ – Regards Elfed

      • glen
        December 20, 2013 at 9:22 am

        Thanks Elfed. I’ll get that to you as soon as I can.

        Regards

        Glen

        • Maggie
          July 21, 2014 at 9:18 am

          Maggie
          July 20, 2014 at 8:38 pm

          Dear Glen
          I found your website by chance – serendipity, as it led me, via Vanessa, straight to an ancilliary branch of my tree. Is it possible for you to pass my email address directly to Vanessa please so that we can exchange further information direct? Perhaps you would let me know.
          Many thanks
          Maggie

        • Maggie
          July 21, 2014 at 8:21 pm

          Thanks Glen – Vanessa and I are now in touch. I am glad i found your website and shall follow it with interest.
          Regards
          Maggie

    5. April 20, 2014 at 3:27 pm

      You mention an “Ebenezer Meeting House” in the Penybryn Baptist Chapel page. Surely this is the Ebenezer at the top of Cwm Ffrwd. It’s near the point where Nantgwyn, Eglwyswrw, Llantood and Bridell all meet. It dates from 1768. T R Jones (also mentioned) was Parch there. See http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/3892749

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