- Nprn: 11914
- Cadw Ref: 93
- Cadw Record No: 18964
- Summary: Salem Independent Chapel in High Street, Porthmadog, was originally built in 1827, enlarged in 1841, rebuilt in 1860. The present chapel, dated 1860, has a fine (and early) example of a giant arch breaking through the gable pediment - the trademark feature of the important chapel architect Thomas Thomas of Landore. The chapel has three bays, the central one recessed, with a big Florentine window above the balustraded balcony and a Tuscan porch. There are tall round-headed windows in the outer bays, with keystones and impost bands. Giant Tuscan pilasters support the pediment, which rests on a rusticated plinth. salem is now Grade 2 Listed for it's special architectural interest.
RCAHMW, May 2011
- Description: Built in 1827, modified and rebuilt 1837, 1841, 1860, architect Thomas Thomas of Landore, and 1899. Built in the Classical style, gable entry type. A prominant feature of this Chapel is the large arch in the facade. Present status : Chapel
Summary: stone-built gable façade chapel, of Italianate classical design, by The Reverend Thomas Thomas of Landore: comparable, for instance, with his altered Capel Salem, Caernarfon, opened 1862. Arched entablature frames the centre gallery window; loggia porch (of 1899?) with entries in its side walls to chapel-cum-gallery stair lobbies. Pulpit backing on to rear gable. Box pews, the ground-floor side pews facing on to the centre of the pulpit and arranged in paired and single blocks. Gallery. Linked schoolroom. Rear burial ground.
History and development: founded 1827 (Royal Commission on the Church of England and other religious bodies). The cause began in Porthmadog about 1823, one of its instigators being Mrs John Willaims, the wife of the agent to Mr Alexander Madocks, who held a Sunday School in her home. The 1st chapel was built in 1827 (evidence of plaque and of Huw Ethall, Hanes Eglwys Salem, Porthmadog)). It was extended in 1841. By 1859 the 1st chapel had become too small and work was sarted on a new chapel, to the design of The Reverend Thomas Thomas of Landore, and this was opened on the last September Sunday in 1860. Organ added in 1884. In 1899, improvements to the lighting were made, and the present Sedd Fawr and pulpit installed (in the style of Owen Morris Roberts (d. 1896), architect of Porthmadog)and "new doors", giving more light, were also installed (did this work include the loggia porch and external lobby doors?). For its 100th anniversary in 1960, the chapel was painted and a new heating system installed (Huw Ethall, Hanes eglwys Salem, Porthmadog (1960); Madog ap Owain Gwynedd, Portmadoc and its resources (Blaenau Ffestiniog: 1856)).
Accommodation: presently ca. 400 below and 300 in the gallery (information from the Minister, The Reverend I.Ll Jones). Seating accommodation for 760 in 1905 (Royal Commission on the Church of England and other religious bodies). The 1851 Religious Census figures are missing for the District of Ffestiniog, which included Porthmadog.
Exterior: the chapel façade is set back behind a forecourt. The chapel forecourt is enclosed from the street by entrance gates flanked by dwarf walls and railings. Dwarf walls faced with rock-faced stone in snecked courses under moulded ashlar coping. Both gates and railings have square uprights with flat, spear-headed finials, the gate uprights rising alternately to above lower-mid and top rails, and flanked by narrow vertical panels of scroll ironwork, of which there are 3 similar in each flanking set of railings. Gate piers and end wall piers comprise large blocks of stone on moulded bases, faced with arched and raised vertical panels; stepped coping. SW. forecourt of raised grass beds, with slate kerbs. Wide centre path of grroved slate slabs, the path widening towards the chapel.
Above the path, 5 steps, 4 of York stone, to shallow, 3-bay loggia porch, the steps bounded on SE. by low stone wall; disabled access ramp of concrete with iron railings on NE.. Is the porch an addition of 1899? Semi-circular arches, on piers faced with blocks of tooled ashlar; moulded ashlar heads and triple keyblocks; taller centre arch. Tuscan columns and entablature in front of centre arch support the projecting centre of a turned and balustraded parapet of ashlar, its centre in the form of a balcony; ashlar of diferent hue from other ashlar dressings?
3-bay pedimented façade of rock-faced and snecked stone with ashlar dressings, and articulated by pilasters on high pedestals, the bases of the pilasters at window cill level. The pilasters rise to an entablature over the narrower end bays, the entablature just above the tops of the window heads. The entablature in turn rises to form an arch over the recessed wider centre window, both window and arch rising into the tympanum of the crowning pediment.
Details: vermiculated ashlar plinth. Lightly-tooled ashlar pedestals to pilasters. Flanking "giant" windows light gallery stairs and gallery: each with impost band and inset with 12 panes in 2 lights, with round-arched top panes and glazed centre lozenge and spandrels; triple keyblock rising to entablature; C20 window glass. Centre window lights the centre back of the gallery; it contains 2 conjoined 2-light windows, each 2-light window similar to those in the end bays, but narrower and shorter, and set below a large circular light inset with a lozenge.
Porch interior: the porch interior has a slate-slab floor, cream-painted walls lined as if for ashlar, beneath a cream-painted and moulded ceiling cornice to a white plaster ceiling with 1 pendant light. At the bottom of the back wall of the porch there is tongue and groove wood boarding below a semi-circular ground-floor window. Below the window, a plaque in red moulded frame, and bearing an inscription in gilded lettering: "Adeiladwyd 1827/ Helaethwyd 1841/.................Ail Adeiladwyd 1860". The semi-circular window has 5 panels of obscured glass, the taller, centre pane is round-headed, with scalloped, "spider's web" tracery over, and inset with coloured-glass panes (shades of blues, greens and browns). In each side wall of the loggia porch is a full-width semi-circular doorway with plinth blocks, moulded white architrave frame and head, 2 doors, each of 1 vertical, round-headed pane;; brass handles. Fanlight with 2 obscured glass panes at centre bottom, enclosed by scalloped, "spider's web" tracery, with clear glass alternating with coloured-glass panes: the NW. fanlight with mauve and blue glass panes, and the SE. door with blue and turquoise glass panes. Although the doors and possibly the fanlights are of mid-C19 style, new doors were donated to the chapel by Mr Wm. Evans in 1899 in an attempt to lighten it: "Drysau newyddion sydd wedi gwneud cymaint I oleuo a harddu'r Capel".
Side walls: of large blocks of stone; projecting eaves. Five 2-storey window openings, the semi-circular head of each faced with a keyblock and 2 quadrant blocks of stone, all flush. Each 2-light window of 12 panes, including round-arched top panes, with a single lozenge and glazed spandrels over; infilled with C20 reeded glass; some openable top panes. C19 ventilator grilles below windows.
Rear elevation: of large blocks of stone also; 4 slate steps to flat-arched doorway with 2-moulded panel door. Semi-circular louvred vent opening below gable apex.
Interior: Entrance-cum-gallery stair lobbies: entered externally from 2 doors in each side wall of porch (see above). Single door to chapel in NE. wall; gallery stairs rise against SW. and lateral external walls. Each lobby with slate-flagged floor. Dark-blue painted plinth; white and cream-painted walls lined as if for ashlar. Window openings with splayed reveals and raking cills. Pale-blue painted single doors to ground-floor auditorium are faced with planted mouldings in panel form: 3 oblong panels below, and 3 taller, round-arched panels above. Gallery stairs have blue-painted treads and risers, with centre green lino strip. Lower flights of 8 steps, balustrade above outer string with cream-painted turned balusters under moulded and varnished wood handrail; large turned newels with ball finials. Each staircase with pale-blue painted gallery door of 4 stop-chamfer panels. Upper flight of 13 steps with low stick balusters, cream-painted.
Chapel interior: blue-carpeted aisles at ground floor; green lino floor strips in gallery aisles. Matchboarded dado to ground floor and gallery, with stick balusters in front of gallery windows. Cream-painted walls, lined as if for ashlar. Window openings with splayed reveals, raking cills with vents, stop-chamfer jambs. Arched window openings to ground floor and gallery; side gallery window heads are below ceiling cornice, while the centre-front gallery window cuts through it. Pulpit arch has pilasters with clustered shafts and composite caps with fruit; arch with guilloche moulding inset with pink flowers with red centres; arch infilled with raised, white-painted plaster fleur-de-lys on a pale-blue ground.
Ceiling: Cream-painted gallery walls beneath white ceiling cove; deep plaster cove rises to ceiling margin panels: these have a square open-fret vent at each corner and in the centre of the NW. and SE. sides, the vents flanked by long paired margin strip panels, of cream-painted and moulded ribs above tongue and groove wood boarding, also cream-painted; each strip has a single cream-painted triangular panel at each end. The margin strips and vents frame a rectangular ceiling divided by saltire ribs into 4 pale-blue painted panels of tongue and groove boarding with large, circular, plaster rose (partly altered) at the centre: this has an outer guilloche border, painted white, and a white-painted fringe, partly of acanthus leaves, that encloses the red-painted centrepiece, presently with later-C20 5-branch and pendant electric light fitting.
Ground-floor seating: box pews with golden-brown horizontally-panelled pew backs and vertically panelled seat ends and doors, all in darker brown-stained framework; three-quarter top beadings of hardwood. Seat backs of 2 horizontal panels. The pews arranged as 1 centre block of paired pews, facing forward, and with side blocks of pews facing at right angles on to the side of the pulpit and into the centre of the chapel. The centre pews have a "continuous" pew divider of horizontal panels, 2 deep, and similar top beading as to pew backs etc.. The paired centre pews are numbered 28 (fr.) to 39 on the NW. side with a further seat in front of no. 28 with its door removed; they are numbered on SE. side 40 (rear) to 51 (front) with a further seat in front of 51, with its door removed. The 2 rear pews (39 on NW. and 40 on SE.) are larger, with seats round 3 sides and each with a 4-panel door set in a panelled screen at the entrance. The side blocks of pews, 4 deep, have vertical-panel fronts on to the aisles flanking the centre block; matchboarded dado as backs along the lateral external walls. Each side, from the chapel entrance end, there is 1) a block of single pews, on NW. side numbered 1 (fr.) to 4 &, on SE. side, numbered 75 (fr.) to 77, with a further shallow pew at front with its door removed; 2) a block of paired pews: on NW. side of chapel, the SW. pews numbered 5 (r.) to 8 and the NE. pews 9 (fr.) to 12. On SE. side, the NE. pews numbered 67 (r.) to 70 and the SW. pews numbered 71 (fr.) to 74; 3): a block of paired pews as 2): on NW. side of chapel, the SW. pews numbered 13-16 and the NE. pews 17-20. On SE. side of chapel, the NE. pews numbered 59-62 (fr.) and the SW. pews numbered 63 (fr.) -65 with 52 at the rear; 4): a block of single pews: on NW. side of chapel numbered 21-24 and on SE. side of chapel numbered 55 (fr.) to 58.
Gallery: gallery beam supported by 9 fluted Doric pilasters: 3 to each side and 3 at back; curved gallery intersections. Gallery front projects above modillion cornice and is faced with bays of horizontal moulded panels, presently infilled with later anaglypta of floral design: the bays are punctuated by short panelled pilasters with bracket caps, with round-arched heads to pilaster panels. Moulded top cornice. Smith's electric clock.
Gallery seating: box pews as to ground floor, but with vertical sunk and stop-chamfer panel seat backs, the panels golden-brown, varnished or polished, in a darker, varnished, framework; golden-brown three-quarter top beading; on the single-panel doors, brass catches and gilded numbering on crimson ground. Lateral wall benches. Each side from pulpit end: 1): block of single pews, 4 deep; on NW. side of chapel, numbered 1-4 and, on SE. side, numbered 51-54; 2): block of paired pews, 3 deep, 5-panel pew backs. On NW. side of chapel, NE.pews numbered 5-7 and SW. pews numbered 8-10. On SE. side of chapel, SW. pews numbered 45-47 and NE. pews 48-50; 3): block of paired pews, 3 deep, each pew with 5-panel back. On NW. side of chapel, NE. pews numbered 11-13 and SW. pews 14-16. On SE. side of chapel, SW. pews numbered 39-41 and NE. pews numbered 42-44; 4): a quadrant-shaped block of paired pews round gallery intersection, fanning out in width towards the rear; on NW. side of chapel, NE. pews numbered 17-19 and SW. pews 23 (r.) & 24. Curved aisle to rear. 5): a curved block, behind the curved aisle and behind 4), 2 pews deep, with vertical panelling at the front. On NW. side of chapel, the 2 front pews numbered 20 & 22; pew 21 is full width at rear. On SE. side of chapel, the 2 front pews numbered 33 & 35; pew 34 is full width at rear; 6): corner bench seat to rear of 5); 7): centre block of paired pews, below organ; on NW. side, numbered 25-27 and on SE. side number 28-30; the 3rd pews from front have been partly removed and replaced by organist's seat and by the front of the organ case and pipes (see Musical instruments, below).
Sedd Fawr and pulpit: in style of Owen Morris Roberts and Son, architects of Porthmadog. Lateral entrances to pink and red carpeted Sedd Fawr enclosure which is curved at the front coners and is faced with 2 tiers of ?polished pine panels of equal width: mid string and top conice under flat handrail of hardwood; vertical moulded panels below mid string and single tier of horizontal panels above it; nailhead moulding below top cornice; central projection for lectern and cupboard with 2-panel door. Sedd Fawr bench with red-upholstered buttoned back and flat cushion seat; turned pine legs; moulded hardwood arms; single newels at side entrances with ball finials. Silver-plated? Plaque on Sedd Fawr inscribed "Rhoddwyd y/ Sedd hwn mewn coffodwriaeth am y diweddar/ Miss Morris, Bank Place, 1899".
Pulpit: silver-plated? Plaque on pulpit is inscribed: "Gyflwynwyd y/ pwlpud hwn yn Rhodd er Coffadwriaeth am y diweddar/ Mr Robert Owen,/ Belle Vue, diacon yn Eglwys Salem......". Small 1st & 2nd World War memorial plaque, of silver plate?, above it. Flanking pulpit staircases of varnished pine: 7 steps; cut string; hardwood, square and fluted pilaster-on-vase balusters; moulded hardwood handrail; bottom newels each in form of large column with centre shaft ring and foliage cap below chamfered square block, and ball finial with flat gadrooning. The top, front stair newel has its front face of thin, moulded-panel strips and has the top pulpit cornice extending across it, beneath flat, gadrooned ball finial. The pulpit has a shallow central projection, its front of 3-panel width and its curved sides of 1-panel width, with a further panel each side returning to the top stair newels. The pulpit is faced with 3 tiers of panelling: a) shallow-panelled middle tier of carved reliefs; b): bottom tier beneath a dentil string comprises small horizontal panels above larger vertical panels; c): top tier of carved vertical flower and foliage panels; d): top cornice. The top, rear newels to the pulpit stair are attached to the wooden arms of the varnished, pine-framed sofa at the back of the pulpit, with buttoned red back and flat red plush seat.
The C19 communion table in front of the pulpit has legs in the form of a classical pier with single, centre flute, and a hardwood, single drop-leaf top. Llangollen Eisteddfod chair of 1895 on its NW., awarded to Eifion Wynn (1867-1926), "Bardd Bregethwyr" and member of Salem, the chair given to the church by Peredur Wynn in memory of his parents. C19 Gothic chair on SE. of communion table.
Musical instruments: Organ in gallery, panelled organ case and gold-painted pipes extending in depth to front wall of chapel from 3rd row of paired centre block of gallery seats. Organ by "Brindley & Foster, Organ Builders/ Sheffield, 1884" in memory of Owen Morris (d. 1884), and presented by his sister, Miss Jane Morris of Bank Place. Electronic organ (locked) in front of Sedd Fawr.
Schoolroom exterior: C19 stone-built schoolroom, shown on Tremadoc estate plan of 1892 (XBJC/13, Gwynedd Archives). To SE. of chapel, separated from it by an external corridor, and linked in one place, viz., by SW. wall of lean-to kitchen, containing brick-headed doorway leading to external lean-to toilet at SW. end of schoolroom. Unfenestrated NW. wall of schoolroom of large blocks of local stone in rubble courses. NE. gable and SE. elevation to Snowdon Street with pale-blue stuccoed cladding; dark-turquoise painted plinth; blue-gren NE. bargeboard. Slate rof. In SE. elevation, 4 semi-circular headed window openings with plain reveals and projecting cills. 2-light windows of 8 panes of fluted glass, including 2 top quadrant panes. NE. gable end with gabled porch with bargeboard in centre, the NE. wall of porch set askew. In main wall of NE.gable, oculus with inset lozenge over porch; semi-circular window opening to each side with moulded head on scroll console brackets; 8-pane windows, including 2 top quadrant panes. 1 slate-topped step to SE. porch with door of 4 moulded and raised panels. 2 slate steps up to rear burial ground. Vestry gate with octagonal uprights alternately to top and lock rails, fleur-de-lys finials.
Schoolroom interior: 5 steps down from chapel to rear kitchen and from there 2 steps down to schoolroom via a door of 4 stop-chamfer panels. The schoolroom has a brown-painted matchboarded dado with moulded top beading; timber boarding facing against SW. end wall, above dais. Mostly cream-painted walls; coved white ceiling cornice. The ceiling with yellow-painted sloping sides and 2-panel flat centre strip with cornice, the last inset with circular vents; these vents have crested edging and contain 4 quadrant panels. SE., lateral window openings with cream-painted raking cils and slightly-splayed, white-painted reveals. Steps up to SW. curtained dais, on which are placed: a pulpit-cum-lectern with trefoil-headed panels at the front; iron-framed bench-cum-desk; set of chairs, with green seats and ?oak frame, donated 1969 (by Mrs Sarah Lewis). Seating: wood-framed bench seat on NW. and SE; 2 iron-framed bench seats with adjustable backs on NW.. On SE. side, pew seat and 2 bench seats. Electronic Hammond organ (London), model L122. Upright piano: John Brinsmead & Sons, London. Pictures on walls, including photograph of Eifion Wyn (1867-1926), "Bardd Bregethwyr" and member of this church. Door of 2 moulded-panel depth into porch: this has conrete floor, early-C20? Hatstand with mirror, modern window in C19 frame in NE. gable and 4 moulded-panel door to exterior.
OMJ. 6/-8/97. Visited 11/6/97.
- Present Sedd Fawr, Pulpit: 1899 Source:Jenkins, O M
- Organ Added: 1884 Source:Jenkins, O M
- Built: 1827 Source:Plaque
- Built: 1827 Source:RCCEORBWM
- Cause: 1823 Source:Jenkins, O M
- Rebuilt: 1860 Source:Jenkins, O M
- Rebuilt: 1880 Source:Plaque
- Extended: 1841 Source:Jenkins, O M
- Extended: 1841 Source:Plaque
- Rebuilt: 1837 Source:
- Rebuilt: 1899 Source:
- Date Of Chapel: 1899 Source:
- Architect: 1860 Thomas Thomas, Landore
- 760: 1905 Sittings (RCCEORBWM)
- Chapel: 16/05/1998 (Site visit - N Hughes)
- Chapel: 2011 (Local history website)
- Welsh: 1998 (Blwyddiadur)
- Welsh: 16/05/1998 (Site visit - N Hughes)
- Monument Type: CHAPEL
- Form: Building
- Storey: Two Storey
- Style: Classical
- Gallery: On three sides
- Plan: Gable Entry
- Pulpit Position: Rear wall
- Window Glazing: Florentine Tracery
- Windows: Tall Round-Headed
Key Details of this Chapel
Key Dates of this Chapel
Key People in this Chapel History
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: SH56853873
- Address: HIGH STREET, PORTHMADOG/PORTMADOCPORTHMADOG; PORTMADOC