- Nprn: 11594
- Cadw Ref: 22/D/97(3)
- Cadw Record No: 10655
- Summary: The Unitarian cause began in Llwynrhydowen in 1726, where Jenkin Jones is said to have preached to the first Arminian congregation in Wales which sprang from Pantycreuddyn church. The first chapel was built in 1733, and after Jenkin Jones death in 1742 he was followed by his nephew, the Rev. D Lloyd of Brynllefrith. He was a very popular preacher and the congregation increased enormously under his care making it necessary to extend the chapel in 1746. This was completely rebuilt in 1791 on a slightly different site, the lease being given for a term of 99 years for a rent of 12 pence a year by Mr D Lloyd of Alltyrodyn.
In 1834 the present, third, chapel was built on the same site as the second, and the first burial in the graveyard took place. The chapel was again renewed at a cost of £300 in 1862. Sittings as given in the Religious Census of 1851 are free 42, other "none", and an average attendance of 4-600 is given.
The building ceased to be used as a chapel after the "Troad Allan" of 1876, when the congregation was evicted from the building by John Lloyd of Alltyrodyn who claimed that the conditions of the lease had been breached. The congregation built a new Llwynrhydowen Chapel (NPRN 7289), but on the death of Mr Lloyd two years later, his sister Mrs Massey returned the building to the trustees. It was subsequently used as the Sunday School, and also for village Christmas concerts and eisteddfodau until ca. 1959 and the construction of the Neuadd Goffa D.H.Evans in Pontsaen. The building is currently in the care of the Welsh Religious Buildings Trust.
The chapel is a long-wall entry type built of coursed rubble stone with dressings and quoins of paler ashlar stone and a half-hipped slate roof. There are two doorways to the outer bays, with paneled doors and fanlights with intersecting tracery. There is a central pair of tall round-headed windows with sash glazing beneath a head of intersecting tracery, and two shorter, similar windows to either end over the doorways. In the centre is a slate plaque inscribed "Llwynrhydowain 1834". There are two inscriptions from the earlier phases of building and four 19th century memorial stones, including one to Mary Thomas, the first wife of Gwilym Marles.
In the interior are slate flagged vestibules, leading ahead up steps to the main chapel interior and to gallery stairs. Each vestibule has a 19th century half-glazed screen wall parallel to pulpit and 2 doors leading to chapel, fitted with etched and coloured-glass margin panes. The main interior has a wooden floor and white plaster walls and a ceiling with a circular centre panel and moulded coving. There are bench seats to the ground floor, laid out in three blocks to the rectilinear Sedd Fawr. Two flights of steps leading up to the rectilinear platform pulpit have turned bobbin balusters of 17th century style. The pulpit has a central canted projection with moulded panels and a sloping lecturn. In the NE corner is the former ministers library containing a two tier bookcase with a zinc front. There is a mid 19th century gallery to three sides, supported by 5 iron columns stamped "T BRIGHT CARMARTHEN" and with a front of grained and moulded panels. Opposite the pulpit is the clock with the ledgend "Dd Jones, Lampeter". The gallery is fitted with open bench seats.
Hen Gapel is Grade II Listed for its historical importance in the history of Utanitarianism in Wales and its unrestored late Georgian character. A Unitarian Museum was established here briefly from 1976, the building is now in the care of the Welsh Religious Buildings Trust.
RCAHMW, March 2014
Aubrey J. Martin, Hanes Llwynrhydowen (Llandysul: 1977)
D. Elwyn Davies, Y Smotiau Duon (Llandysul: 1981)
Elfyn Scourfield, Carmarthen craftsmen and implement makers, The Carmarthenshire Antiquary XXVII (1991).
- Description: Cause 1726; Built 1733; Rebuilt 1746, 1791; Renewed 1834. Congregation evicted 1876. Built in the Simple Round-Headed style, long-wall entry type. Status (1998): disused
The Unitarian cause began in Llwynrhydowen in 1726, where Jenkin Jones is said to have preached to the first Arminian congregation in Wales, the 1st and 2nd chapels being built in 1733 & 1791. The present, 3rd, chapel was built in 1834 and renewed at a cost of 300 in 1862. Sittings as given in the Religious Census of 1851: free 42, other "none"; an average attendance of 4-600. Ceased to be used as a chapel after the "Troad Allan" of 1876. Shown as "Sunday School" on OS Cardiganshire map sheet 40.8, 2nd ed of 1905; used also for village Christmas concerts and eisteddfodau until ca. 1959 and the construction of the Neuadd Goffa D.H.Evans in Pontsaen.
Summary: rectangular, stone, lateral-façade chapel; end doorways. Interior with pulpit against centre of front wall on to which the ground-floor seating also faces. Open-bench seats. 3-sided gallery; some gallery fittings from previous chapels?
Exterior: stone lateral-entry chapel facing SW. with slate half-hipped roof. Front wall of shallow coursed rubble containing semi-circular headed openings; end quoins and door and window openings of paler ashlar, the latter partly scribed to resemble voussoirs. Brown-painted decorative eaves band. Below eaves in centre, a circular slate plaque inscribed "Llwynrhydowain 1834". To each side a tall 15-pane sash window beneath a head of intersecting tracery. A similar, shorter 9-pane gallery window at each end over doorway with fanlight with intersecting tracery and mid-C19 door of 3 vertical panels with arched heads (like mid-C19 doors in Aberaeron). At l.h. end, 2 inscriptions from former chapels, e.g. chapel of 1733. Built against and into the front wall at ground level are 4 oblong C19 memorials of slate: from NW. to Mary Thomas, 1st wife of Gwilym Marles, to Joseph Joseph (d. 1863), to The Reverend Peter Joseph (d. 1857) & to The Reverend John Davies, former Llwynrhydowen Minister (d. 1858). Unfenestrated side elevations of stone rubble with brown-painted bargeboards; quoins; plinth on NW.. Rear elevation of roughly-coursed rubble with some thinner courses; paired bracket eaves cornice (9 bracket pairs); 2 tall window openings with dressed-stone heads and key blocks; sash windows with horns - perhaps a later-C19 insertion? - 6 vertical panels in centre and plain glass margin panes.
Interior: slate-flagged vestibules, leading ahead up steps to chapel interior and also to gallery stairs; each vestibule with a C19 half-glazed screen wall parallel to pulpit and 2 half-glazed doors leading to chapel, both screen wall and doors with painted and grained moulded panels beneath clear glazed panels framed by etched and coloured-glass margin panes.
Chapel interior: wood-boarded floor. White-plaster walls above lateral seat linings; white-plaster ceiling, the last with moulded circular centre panel and a moulded border to rectangular vent/roof access at either end. Mid-C19 3-sided gallery. Open bench seats of beige and brown-painted pine, with painted and grained and shaped ends. Paired centre block of seats of 5 seats depth; centre pew divider to rear 4 seats which have 5-panel seat backs; undivided front seat with 10-panel seat back. To each side a single block of 6 seats with 4 sunk-panel backs. A further bench seat between vestibules and side of rectilinear and vertically-panelled Sedd Fawr enclosure. The last with canted angles and bench seats with painted and grained bench ends each side of centre entry. 2 flights of 7 steps to rectangular pulpit platform with boarded floor and chamfered angles to grained front incorporating 4 vertically-panelled doors to cupboards. Brown-painted turned bobbin balusters of C17 style to platform parapet and stairs; slightly larger newels. Barley-sugar twisted balusters flanking oriel pulpit projection with moulded panel and canted sides, its centre with inset raised panel; pulpit cornice with mock machicolation/pear-drop motif; sloping tripartite lectern with shaped edges and rear ledge. Behind pulpit, C19 wood chair with turned baluster back and scroll arms. Former Minister's library in N. corner in 2-tier bookcase with perforated zinc front. C19 hearse/coffin ladder with forked ends suspended from SE. gallery soffit; another formerly on NE..
Gallery beam supported in the chapel by 5 silver-painted columns with moulded caps and stamped "T BRIGHT CARMARTHEN" and in vestibules by paired columns flanking the SW. doors (Thomas Bright (d. 1870) was owner of the Old Foundry, Carmarthen, from ca. 1847-48). Deep white-painted plaster cove rises to projecting gallery front faced with painted and grained and moulded panels - 14 panels to sides and 17 panels to rear - beneath mock-machicolated cornice at top with further, moulded cornice below; continuous sloping bookrest and ledge behind top cornice. Circular clockface in centre with the legend "Dd Jones, Lampeter". Straight flights of 17 steps to gallery, of wood but the bottom step of slate; the stairs enclosed at the top by balusters of C17 style, turned bobbin with cushion caps (from 1st or 2nd chapels?). Similar enclosures in gallery to rear NW. and SE. corner pews. On all 3 sides in gallery, open bench seats in front row with 2-tier moulded panel backs and shaped ends - seat backs of 14 panel width on NW. and SE. sides and 20 on NE., the last returning briefly at each end and with a 10-panel seat back facing the pulpit, and to each side of a narrow centre seat which has a single tier back of 3 sunk panels with flanking seat dividers. Similar narrow centre seat in 2nd row on NE., against the back wall, with flanking & backless long bench seats that return briefly along NW. and SE. sides & have iron guards of thin circular uprights as backs only in the 2 rear window openings. Extending from the staircase enclosures to N. and S. corners are, firstly, plain bench seats without backs along the end walls; one step down, in the middle row, are plain bench seats with shaped ends and two-tier sunk-panel backs of 5 panels width; for front row, see above.
The chapel ground on SW. retains many memorials of pre-1876 date, largely of slate but partly of other stone, e.g. to John Jones of North Lodge , Alltyrodyn, died in Shanghai, China, in 1872. Stone retaining wall to chapel ground along field bank on SE., stone walls on NE. and SW. and, on NW., along road. NW. entrance to chapel ground via a flight of 4 stone steps (and 1 top concrete step) and an iron gate with oblong uprights alternately to top and mid rail; end and centre scroll finials. Here Gwilym Marles preached on the occasion of the "Troad Allan" on Sunday, 29th October, 1876, when congregation and minister were locked out of the chapel.
Conclusion: apparently little altered since 1876 and thus a good example of an 1830s lateral-façade chapel with 1860s fittings; a time capsule for the 1830s to 1860s period? Not dissimular to some 1830s Calvinistic Methodist chapels: e.g. the former Capel Bancyfelin, Llangrannog (due in 1996 for conversion) and the pre-1902 façade of Capel Tabernacl, Cardigan. In addition, a chapel of great importance to the Unitarian cause; a Unitarian Museum established here briefly from 1976.
For the history of the chapel and the cause see Aubrey J. Martin, Hanes Llwynrhydowen (Llandysul: 1977), D. Elwyn Davies, Y Smotiau Duon (Llandysul: 1981); see also Elfyn Scourfield, Carmarthen craftsmen and implement makers, The Carmarthenshire Antiquary XXVII (1991). Visited 7/11/96 by DJR and OJ; report by OJ 8/11/-20/12/96.
- Renovated: 1862 Source:Horsfall-Turner
- Dated: 1834 Source:Welsh Office
- Built: 1733 Source:1851 Census
- Built: 1733 Source:Horsfall-Turner
- Dated: 1834 Source:Cadw
- Cause: 1726 Source:Horsfall-Turner
- Founded: 1726 Source:Cadw
- Cause: 1726 Source:James, Evan
- Evicted: 1862 Source:Evan James
- Eviction (by Landlord): 1876 Source:Cadw
- Date Of Chapel: 1834 Source:
- Rebuilt: 1791 Source:Horsfall-Turner
- Rebuilt: 1791 Source:1851 Census
- Renewed: 1834 Source:1851 Census
- Rebuilt: 1879 Source:Horsfall-Turner
- Rebuilt: 1834 Source:Horsfall-Turner
- Renewed: 1862 Source:Cadw
- Interior Refitted: 1862 Source:BOW
- Rebuit: 1746 Source:
- 42: 1851 ()
- Chapel: 07/11/1996 (Site visit - OMJ)
- Other: 01/2011 WRBT ownership (RCAHMW)
- Welsh: ()
- Monument Type: CHAPEL
- Form: Building
- Storey: Two Storey
- Style: Simple Round-Headed
- Gallery: On three sides
- Plan: Long-wall entry
- Pulpit Position: Front wall
- Window Glazing: Margin
- Windows: Tall Segmental Head
Key Details of this Chapel
Key Dates of this Chapel
Capacities during this Chapels History
Changes of Status its History
The Languages of the Chapel during its History
Key Characteristics of this Chapel
Images from Coflein
- Grid Reference: SN44374521
- Address: CARDIGAN ROAD, RHYDOWEN