Nazareth Chapel, Nazareth Prebyterian Church of Wales, Llangammarch
If you were giving instructions to a stranger on how to find Nazareth Chapel, it would not be difficult. It has grey walls facing the street, with four lance-shaped windows, a slate roof and an entrance porch behind the blue painted iron gate. The gable end of the building is made of red brick with yellow stone facings. You may be disappointed at this modest-looking building but its appearance belies the great fervour felt by those ardent people of the eighteenth century who lived here when Nonconformism was finding many followers in this remote part of Wales.The title Non-Conformist was given to the Welsh churches established by those who failed to agree with the 1662 Act of Uniformity. A subsequent Act of 1689 allowed freedom of worship but there was a desire not to appear aligned to the established English Church. This led to the building of the independent chapels in the villages and towns of Wales. Their ever-increasing popularity in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries led to the establishment of more and more denominations. Often two or more chapels of different persuasions co-existed in the same village.
At this time, there was no official place of worship. Howell Harris was a frequent visitor in his early years before venturing into the wider world; William Williams Pantycelyn was a curate at Llanwrtyd and Abergwesyn from 1740 to 1743 and many of the meetings these men held were in the open air. It is known that as early as 1742 a “Society” was established at Llangammarch. Services were held in farms at Dol-y-Gaer, Coryn and Llwyn-Einon.
A remarkable story is told of how the Gwynnes of Garth House came to espouse “The Great Awakening”, as the movement was called. Marmaduke Gwynne JP was angry about the irregular methods of the young reformer from Trefecca, Howell Harris. Hearing that he was to preach at Cefnllysgwyn, he rode there on his horse. He was a just man and didn’t want to condemn Harris without himself hearing him. He waited on the outskirts of the crowd and found that he was compelled to listen. He was so moved by Howell’s eloquence and sincerity that he was dumbfounded, so much so, we are told, that “conviction entered his soul”. Ever afterwards he became an avowed advocate. Mrs Gwynne ultimately became a follower and in time their daughter became the wife of Charles Wesley, marrying him in Llanlleonfel church in 1749. Garth became an open house to the Methodist Revival and its protagonists.
An interesting fact connected with this neighbourhood is that, unlike other parts of the country, its gentry were espoused to “The Great Awakening”. In addition to the Gwynnes, the Thomases of Llwyn Madoc and the Pritchards of Dol-y-Gaer all threw in their lot with the young reformers. In 1818, a central meeting place was decided upon. This was a thatched cottage, while Sunday Schools were still held in some of the farms. During this period, nonconformist baptisms were held in the home, usually the paternal grandfather’s house.
The first chapel was built in 1829. Two leading lights in this project were John Morgan and David Lloyd. John Morgan was an excellent Sunday School teacher and made Nazareth a famous institution here. He was aided by Thomas Elias, who worked here as a tailor before entering the ministry. His exceptional wife helped him in all his endeavours and she was held in great esteem. These were men of great character, rich in religious experience and capable organisers.
One such man was John Bevan MP of Aberannell. A man of different type was Evan Morris, the wheelwright from Tychwarel, incisive of tongue and smart of repartee. “Jacko” Lewis of Neuaddau was meticulous in the smallest detail in the needs of the Chapel. Another fine man was John Davies of Glancamddwr, agent to the Llwynmadoc estate, deliberate and dignified. The Reverend John Watkins of Gorwydd became the first pastor there and of Llangammarch in 1869. He was a great preacher and worked here the whole of his ministerial life.
Gosen Chapel (Calvinistic) Cefn Gorwydd
1743 - Established
1778 - The first chapel was built
1795 - The chapel was enlarged
1808 - reconstruction of chapel
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