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. 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.
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.
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…”
The Religious Census of 1851
Dyddiadur y Bedyddwyr 1861
Cardigan & Tivy-Side Advertiser 1870-71; 1902; 1908; 1912; 1917; 1930; 1935; 1937; 1941; 1948;
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
William Cynon Evans, Minister of Penybryn Chapel 1885-92
Rev. Edwin Watkins Minister of Penybryn Chapel 1894-1901
Rev. John Thomas Minister of Penybryn 1910-27
Cover of 1911 Annual Report for Penybryn Chapel (Glen Johnson Collection)