NONCONFORMIST CHAPELS AND MEETINGHOUSES
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!’”.
PEN-YR-HEOL BAPTIST CHAPEL
eighteenth century Baptist foundation was that of Pen-yr-heol, situated
at the end of the road in the hills above Velindre. Meetings are
said to have been held first at Island Farm in the parish of Llanigon,
or at Pen-yr-heol Farm, the home of John Thomas (minister of Maesyberllan).
With an increasing congregation, it was decided to build a chapel.
Land was acquired by a title deed dated 14th November 1783, and
the building with its hipped roof and pointed round-headed windows
was completed the following year.An inscribed tablet on the side
wall above the original entrance records the chapel’s endowment:
‘The Memoir of / TWO HUNDRED AND / FORTY POUNDS of The / Pious
Donation of / Thomas Williams / of the Island, GENT / in the Parish
of / Llanigon and County / of Brecon to and / for the Use and Benifit
/ of this Pen-y-heol / Church for Ever’; the date is no longer
legible, but apparently once read: “Ibi., Sept. ye 1st. 1788”
(less than a week before the donor’s death).
Initially a branch of Maesyberllan, in 1819 Pen-yr-heol was recognised
as an independent church and a member of the Baptist Association.
The religious census taken on 30th March 1851 records that while
173 persons actually attended the evening service on the day of
the census, there was space for three hundred. This seems an extravagant
estimate, as a gallery does not appear to have been installed until
1860. The gallery was later removed, the original side-wall entrance
sealed and a new porch erected at the north end.
In the logbooks of Velindre School, head-teachers occasionally
noted events at the local chapels that affected pupils’ attendance.
On 19th October 1885: “Very poor attendance, many children
gone to Penrheol Harvest Thanksgiving”; in the weekly report
of 25th July 1904: “Anniversary at Penrhoel – so many
scholars have applied for half holiday that this along with another
circumstance caused head teacher to omit usual marking of Registers,
though we dismissed at usual time. The circumstance alluded to was
a terrific thunderstorm with torrents of rain, entirely precluding
those at a distance leaving the shelter of their homes”; again
on 20th July 1914: “Owing to the boisterous & wet state
of the weather, & also to a Tea Party taking place at Penrheol
Chapel, only a dozen children present in the afternoon”. The
memoir of Mary Kinsey (née Harris) recalls such Anniversary
services held every year. As a child in the 1890s she used to recite
at both afternoon and evening services on the Sunday; then there
was another service on the Monday when tea was prepared for everyone
who came. Below Penyrheol Cottage was a pool hewn out of the rock;
she and her mother went “one Sunday morning when there were
twenty baptised at the Dipping Pool. After the dipping we went to
a house where the members had a hot drink and changed into dry clothing”.
The last one she remembers was when there was snow on the ground!
Source : -- "A
Chapter on the Churches and Chapels in the Parish of Glasbury "
by M.A.V. Gill