The Non Conformists Chapels in the Glasbury Area
This article was prepared by M. A. V. Gill in 2005 for the "Glasbury Book" (unpublished),
It was first published with annotations in Brycheiniog Vol XVIII 2012 . The excellent artwork is also by the same local author


In a period when so many Nonconformist chapels throughout Wales are being made redundant and demolished or converted to secular use, no fewer than three in the parish of Glasbury appear in Anthony Jones’ monograph Welsh Chapels (1984), listed as buildings which should be “saved at all costs”: Maesyronen, Capel-y-ffin and Treble Hill, each representative of a different period and style of chapel building. In J.W. Hobbs’ reminiscences, he describes the Chapel Sunday school Anniversaries as great events, when children and adults would give songs and recitations: “One year a grand ‘Dialogue’ was given by the men of the Chapel. It was called ‘Noah’s Ark’ and the part of the patriarch was taken by the white haired old stationmaster, Mr. Jones. There were about a dozen men and boys taking part, but the only two names I remember were a Mr. Holder and the jovial old Precentor, Mr. James Morgan, who added a touch of humour by rushing in, getting stage fright and instead of the grandiloquent speech he should have delivered, looking blankly around and then blurting out, ‘the river has ruz, and I’m feared as most of my ships have been washed away’. I was a sinner who repented and arrived after Noah had entered the Ark (the Chapel vestry), and heard the solemn words from inside ‘Too late, too late, the door is shut, you cannot enter now!’”.


Tradition claims that as early as 1633 there was a Baptist church among the inhabitants of Olchon, who joined with the newly formed church of the Hay in 1650. The Baptists of Capel-y-ffin were long associated with those of Olchon. A report on the state of the churches in Wales taken at the Baptist Association meeting held at Usk in June 1775 notes that the two communities between them had forty members and remarks: “Olchon is entirely Welch tho’ on the borders of Herefordshire. The Meeting has been kept tho’ in different Dwellings ever since the time of Charles I. There is only a lofty Hill between the two places, about a mile up and another down. The Lord’s Supper is administered alternately at each place”. Although Capel-y-ffin was regarded as belonging to Olchon, the latter never had a proper meetinghouse and it was in Capel-y-ffin that the Baptist chapel was built, and here in 1770 that the Baptist Association held its annual meeting.

A stone tablet on the outside wall commemorates William and David Prosser, who “Brought the Ministry of the / Gospel to their House in the Year / 1737. And Secured this Place for That Sacred Use for the Time Being”. One of the entries “copyd out of the Old decayd Register Book” notes for June 1737: “Then was the Revd. Mr. Joshua Andrews Chosen as a Minister”. By the 1750s there was a burial ground, as inscriptions on tombstones from that period testify. However, according to the 1775 report, Capel-y-ffin dates from 1762. It may be that after some years of holding meetings in the Prosser’s house, land was given and an existing building was converted for Divine worship, until the congregation was able to erect the purpose-built chapel. On 5th June 1802, the Rev. George Watkins (who erected the commemoration plaque) devised the meeting house “with all and singular its appurtenances to Mr. John Harries Mercer of Abergevenny his heirs and assigns for ever in trust for the use of the particular Baptists Church that may Meet there for Divine worship for the time being”.

Other entries copied from the old register record the baptism of members and on occasion their exclusion. On 4th May 1793 it was agreed “that James Williams to be excluded for drunkness and other crimes laid to his charge; Anne his wife to be suspended for false speaking with other things unbecoming the Gospel; and Mary Burten for injuring her fellow Members and other crimes. To be done at the Lord’s Table. Which was performed the Sabbath following”.

Source : -- "A Chapter on the Churches and Chapels in the Parish of Glasbury " by M.A.V. Gill