The Building of the Chapel

Memorial Stone commemorating the start of the building of the new chapel in October 1883.

Memorial Stone commemorating the start of the building of the new chapel in October 1883.

On Saturday 20th October 1883, the South Wales Daily News reported at length on the building of a new Baptist Chapel in St Mellons, and the ceremony of laying the memorial stones that can still be seen on the front of the chapel building today.

A smaller chapel had been built 50 years earlier on the site of what is now the chapel graveyard (also on Tyr Winch Road), but as the congregation grew there became a need for a larger chapel to be built, the land for which was donated by Richard Allen Esq of nearby Ty-To-Maen, who was a member of another church.

The National Library of Wales has made this newspaper article about the building of the Chapel available at http://newspapers.library.wales/view/3516383/3516387/91.

Laying of memorial stones South wales daily news 20 oct 1883

The contract for building the chapel, at a cost of £1,600, was given to a Mr E J Davies of Cathays.  At the time of laying the memorial stones, less than half of the required amount had been raised, a substantial amount of it being from just three or four local gentlemen who were part of the church.  The largest donor was Edward Davies, a wealthy local farmer from Wernfawr Farm, whose parents had  been among the first 22 members of the original chapel when it had been built 50 years previously, and whose brother Rev. Dr. Thomas Davies (President of the Haverfordwest Bible College) played a large role in the proceedings being reported on in this article.

union and brotherly loveRev Dr Thomas gave a lengthy speech recounting his memories of growing up in St. Mellons, and his involvement with the old chapel building.  He had played a prominent role in the building of the old chapel, including carting some of the stones used in its erection.  That chapel had been demolished as part of the project to build the new one, and some of the stones were being re-used in the construction of the new chapel.

 

Rev. Nathaniel TAlfred Tilly caersalemhomas (pastor of the Welsh Baptist Tabernacl, on The Hayes, Cardiff) gave an address in Welsh, which was followed by an address by Rev. Alfred Tilly, who was the pastor at Tredegarville Baptist Church in Cardiff.

Councillor Alfred Thomas J.P.(later to become Lord Pontypridd) and Alderman Richard Cory laid the two memorial stones, laying £25 and £10 respectively on them. Both also gave speeches, Alderman Cory expressing the hope that “in that building the doctrine preached would be the simple one of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and as long as that was preached so long would the Holy Spirit bless it and save souls therein.”

The memorial stone laid by Alfred Thomas can still be seen on the front of the chapel, but the stone laid by Alderman Cory has for some years been hidden behind a church noticeboard.  Plans are underway to remove the noticeboard so that the memorial stone can once again be seen.

Various other speeches, readings and prayers were given by other local ministers and members of the congregation, some of the details of which can be read in the article.

At the time of the ceremony, about half the exterior of the new chapel had been completed, and it was finished the following year, opening services being held almost exactly a year later, on September 30th and October 1st, 1884.  The South Wales Daily News published a news report about the opening services, which can be read in full at  http://newspapers.library.wales/view/3517851/3517854/45/

Opening service caersalem

 

Many of the same men preached “powerful and impressive discourses” (in Welsh and English) at the opening services as had spoken at the ceremonial laying of the memorial stones a year earlier, and the chapel building was reported as being crowded throughout the services.

 

 

130 years later, Baptist believers in St. Mellons continue to meet regularly in this chapel building, sitting on the same “pitch pine” pews that were made on site by local craftsmen all those years ago (albeit with cushions on them now!).  The chapel building has twice been extended since then, firstly in the early 1970’s to add a hall at the rear of the chapel, and then in 2004 to extend that hall into a two-storey building with improved disabled access.

As a church we are thankful to God as we look back at the history of His work here in St. Mellons!