Hen Dŷ Cwrdd Trecynon
Hen Dŷ Cwrdd is the earliest Nonconformist cause in the Cynon Valley and represents the continuity of radical thought and action since the 17th century. The first chapel was built in 1751, as a cottage-like meeting house. The original building sat between 50–100 people, and by 1853 it had a membership of 60.
Hen Dŷ Cwrdd has witnessed a succession of radical ministers. One of the early proponents of Unitarianism in Wales was Thomas Evans (Tomos Glyn Cothi). He was a Teifi valley weaver who began the first chapel of the faith in 1796, who tempered the authorities with such provocations as singing Jacobin songs in public, including a Welsh version of the Marseillaise. Eventually he was incarcerated in gaol in Carmarthen until 1811, where he penned radical booklets for distribution. Upon his release, he was invited to take the helm at Hen Dŷ Cwrdd. After his death in 1833, the chapel remained active and other radical ministers followed in his step. John Jones ministered for the last 30 years of his life, dying in 1863, after a period of contributing to articles in the Welsh Chartist publication, Udgorn Cymru. He was also one of the founders of Yr Ymofynydd in 1847, a Welsh language Unitarian denominational magazine. One of the last ministers of the chapel, was Jacob Davies. He was a poet and a pacifist and during his life he made regular contributions to Welsh culture as a journalist and broadcaster.
The current chapel was built in 1862 to the design of architect Evan Griffiths of Aberdare. It is a medium sized chapel seating 250-300, with an unusually plain façade designed to be ‘simple and strong, reflecting Unitarian beliefs in liberty, tolerance and forbearance’. Following its closure it was acquired by Addoldai Cymru in 2005.
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Further InformationUnitarian Faith Trail Leaflet Listing Document Hen Dy Cwrdd Cadw listing
Further ReadingDr Jacob Dafis (ed), Crefydd a Gweriniaeth yn hanes Yr Hen-dy-Cwrdd, Aberdare 1751-1951, (Gomer Press, Llandysul, 1951). David Leslie Davies, They Love to be Dissenters: The origins and history of Hen Dŷ Cwrdd Aberdare 1650-1862 (2012) R Jenkins Jones, The Origin and History of the Old Meeting House, Hen-dy-Cwrdd, Aberdare , Transactions of the Unitarian History Society, Vol 1 pt 2 (1918) p 155-176. Alan Vernon Jones, Chapels of the Cynon Valley (Cynon Valley History Society, 2004)