LLANDDEWI RHYDDERCH BAPTIST CHAPEL

Bygone Days

 

The chapel was built in 1827, on land donated by the Williams family.  Today, we may at times take for granted our freedom to worship wherever and whatever we wish.  However, it is interesting to learn and remember that it was not always so easy.  The chapel is here for us today, thanks originally to John Williams who petitioned to be able to worship as a Baptist initially at his home, and then in the newly built chapel.

 

"1819 September 7; Protestant; the dwelling house of John WILLIAMS farmer; the said John WILLIAMS, William DAVIES; No 280 (endorsed; 1819, November 19)"..."1827 June 6, Baptist; a new bulding erected on a part of the estate of John WILLIAMS of Treseison in the parish of Llanddewi Rhytherch, farmer; the said John WILLIAMS, William JONES, Andrew WILLIAMS; No 282 (endorsed Received 1827 June 30)."  Dissent in the Counties of Glamorgan and Monmouth, Hywel D Emanuel, National Library of Wales journal, Vol VIII/4, Winter 1954, Extracted onto the pages of GENUKI (genuki.co.uk)with the kind permission of the National Library of Wales.

 

"From 1806 to 1826 groups used to meet in the winter at this village, praying at James Harry's cottage, hearing the Word in John Williams' big room at Tresaeson, holding societies at Richards' Tyhir, Pentre Brython and Cefn Coch. Not only the students, but Revs Micah Thomas, Francis Hiley and Joseph Price braved bad weather and rough lanes to preach and
baptise.  Soon there was a small chapel on Tresaeson ground with a stable underneath a minister's vestry which one pastor turned into a school for poor children. Until 1827 all the members still took communion at Llanwenarth but in June 1840 they were formally transferred and constituted as a separate fellowship under Christ our Lord. A student,
Daniel Jones, agreed to serve as pastor whilst Lewis of Fawydden, Davies of Church Farm, Williams the Court and Walter Davies of Llwyn Sisyllt became the first deacons.  Launching a new country chapel was still rare enough an event, and so was the presence of five notable leaders — Micah Thomas, Francis Hiley, Dr Thomas Thomas of Pontypool, the Rev Benjamin Williams and Mr Michael. The Rev Daniel Jones from Nantyglo and his wife Mary Lewis of Fawydden, built up a membership of sixty in four years and were happy to work at a salary of £30 per year, since 'men were plea­sed to labour under King Jesus whether they received pecuniary acknowledgement or not for they had respect only to the recompense of reward'. The next pastor, Mr Lewis and Miriam his wife, received less than £50 per year even in 1847. The next minister left after less than two years; John George (1862-1876) lived in his wife's inherited home and the following pastor again served only two years before going abroad.  As in the case of Goytre and Gilwern, the time of fruitfulness arrived eventually when two fine
young pastors took the work. John Edwards' years of evangelistic work were like a breath of fresh air (1884-1889). Then Mr Rees (1892-1910) brought the little church into the twentieth century with high hopes." Sowing Beside All Waters – Brynmor Price Jones

 

Initially the chapel was a branch of Llanwenarth Baptist Chapel, Govilon, and the preacher was Reverend Joseph Price of that parish.  On 25th June 1840 it was formed into an independent chapel with twenty three members, and up to 1850 the service was conducted in Welsh.  Three services were held each Sunday: Morning Service, Sunday School, and Evening Service.

 

In the past, there was a thriving congregation, with parishioners coming on foot or by horse, from the village, the local area and Abergavenny.  In 1851, approximately half the parish population attended the evening services: "Llanthewy-Rhytherch Parish; Statistics; Area 2187 acres; Population 208 males, 194 females, total 402....Llanthewy Chapel, Particular Baptist,     Erected  1826, Attendance - morning 80, afternoon 35 scholars, evening 200, Thomas Lewis Minister."  Reference from the Church and chapel data from The Regliious census of 1851: A Calendar of the returns relating to Wales, Vol 1, South Wales.  Ed. by I. G. Jones, & D. Williams, UWP, Cardiff, 1976.     

 

Four generations of the Williams/Taylor family have been playing the piano and organ in the chapel, with Val Badham doing so today.

 

The chapel, its gates and pillars are Grade II listed, with CADW, in order to preserve it as a functioning chapel for future generations.

 

Publication References

 

The chapel is mentioned in a number of publications, including:

  • Jones Brymore Pierce, Sowing Beside All Waters, Baptist Heritage of Gwent, 1985, Page 71
  • Jones IG & Williams D, The relogious Censis of 1851, 1976, 1 Page 39
  • John Newman, The Buildings of Wales, Gwent/Monmouthshire, Penguin Books, 2000, Page 269
  • Sir Joseph Bradney, A History of Monmouthshire, The 100 of Abergavenny, Part II, 1906, Reprinted 1994, Llanddewi Rhydderch
  • Kelly's History of Monmouthshire (1887)

Baptistry

 

A stream and baptist pool, still preserved today, on nearby private farmland was the location for chapel baptisms, up until only two generations ago.

 

Pulpit Fall

 

The cloth fall adorning the pulpit was a gift given to the chapel by the war evacuees from Folkstone, as a thank you.  The original one has kindly been re-sewn by Sue Vater.

 

Roll of Honour

 

  • Bert Boyt, Private, Canadian Infantry
  • Tom Collins, Trooper, Royal Canadian Dragoons
  • Allan Edwards, Private, Welsh Guards
  • Jack Jones, Private, 3rd Monmouthshire Regiment
  • Wyndham Lewis, Private, SWB
  • Victor John Price, Private, 98th Machine Gun Company
  • Oliver Powell, Sergeant, SWB
  • George Taylor, Private, SWB
  • Caleb Taylor, Sergeant, SWB
  • Albert Thomas, Sapper, Royal Engineers
  • Will Thomas, Corporal, KSLI
  • Fred Thomas, Private, The Welsh
  • Ivor Thomas, Private, 3rd Monmouthshire Regiment
  • Tom Walby, Private, RWF
  • Jack Williams, Private, Welsh Regiment
  • Will Williams, Private, RWF
  • Edgar Williams, Sapper, Royal Engineers
  • George Williams, Private, London Regiment

 

 Ministers, Deacons and Deaconesses

 

  • Reverend Daniel Jones
  • Reverend Thomas Lewis
  • Reverend Richard Owen
  • Reverend John George
  • Reverend William Davies
  • Reverend William Thomas
  • Reverend John Edwards
  • Reverend William Rees
  • Reverend E Forest-Jones
  • Reverend R R Roberts
  • Reverend Hill
  • Mr Jim Watkins
  • Mr Williams
  • Mr Caleb Taylor
  • Mrs Gladys Price
  • Mrs Emily Martin
  • Mr Ronald Martin
  • Miss Doris Jones
  • Mrs Vera Withers
  • Mr Tom Watkins Junior
  • Mrs Sybil Nurden
  • 1840 - 1844
  • 1848 - 1856
  • 1858 - 1861
  • 1862 - 1873
  • 1876 - 1878
  • 1879 - 1882
  • 1883 - 1891
  • 1892 - 1911
  • 1916 - 1919
  • 1923 - 1926
  • From 1926 to Present Day

 

 

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Mrs Barbara Vater's Bible Inscription, written by Reverend Rogers, for her first Sunday School attendance in 1925

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The Pulpit Fall Embroidery

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The Pulpit Fall In Place

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The Graveyard Where Members of Past Congregations are Laid to Rest

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Gravestone Craftsmanship

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Roll of Honour Picture

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The Ministers Plaque