Hen Gapel (Congregationalist), Llanuwchllyn, Merionethshire

Gramps ID P0372
Latitude 52.8647
Longitude -3.6822
Church Parish Llanuwchllyn
County Merionethshire
Alternate Names Language Date range in which the name is valid.
Old Chapel
Enclosed By
Place Encloses


Summary mostly borrowed from elsewhere:

Church ... may be regarded as the mother church of Independent causes in Merioneth ... arises from visit to the area in 1739 by Lewis Rees, born Glamorgan and minister of Llanbryn-mair, Montgomeryshire. The first chapel was built in 1746, half a mile from the village of Llanuwchllyn... The chapel was known as Yr Hen Gapel [the Old Chapel], but the names Ebeneser and Rhosyfedwen were also used occasionally. The chapel house besides the chapel dates from this early period. Rebuilt 1810 following a revival in 1809 and the Rev. Dr. George Lewis, the minister from 1794 until 1811, is reputed to have accepted 200 members.

Dr George Lewis was succeeded as minister in 1814 by the Rev Michael Jones. Controversy/Battle of the Systems from this excellent Welsh account: The church was without minister for a time after George Lewis's departure, but in 1814, a call was sent to Michael Jones, and he was established as Minister of the Church on 10 October 1814. He was active in the work at Llanuwchllyn. , although several unfortunate cases have arisen during his period. Michael Jones became Minister of the Old Chapel straight from college, with very different ideas to his predecessor Mr Lewis. “Doctor Lewis was a organizer, Michael Jones was a critic, the Doctor was a theological architect, Michael was a breaker”. [12] The congregation split at this time, with two-thirds against him. However, he continued his work, and his efforts to establish and develop a Sunday School were successful, at Tŷ Mawr around 1819. However, the division developed, with one faction in favor of Mr Lewis's system, and another in favor of Michael Jones' system - this is the start of the 'Battle of the Systems'. This debate led to a lawsuit, and officers who were against Michael Jones's order went as far as “putting new bolts and locks on the chapel, and placing three watchmen on it”. Yet Michael Jones continued to preach at Weirglodd Wen. Meanwhile, those against Michael Jones raised a man called Owen Jones to look after them. However, it was realized that Michael Jones had more success than Owen Jones, and finally two congregations reunited. “On October 29-30, a Cymanfa and preaching meeting was held in the Old Chapel to celebrate the reunification”. [14]

In 1842 Michael Jones became the principal of the seminary established at Bala for the training of candidates for the ministry, and which later developed into the Independent college. Following his death, in 1853, he was succeeded as minister and principal by his son the Rev. Michael D Jones. He was a leading figure in the movement to establish a Welsh colony in Patagonia, and inhabitants of the colony presented the tablet commemorating him which is located near to the pulpit in the chapel. Both father and son were buried in the graveyard besides the chapel.



On 30 March 1851 90 were present in the morning Sunday school, 300 in the afternoon and 150 in the evening services and there were reported to be 350 free seatings in the chapel which was also used as a day school. By 1868 the chapel was in a poor condition and Morris Roberts, Remsen, expressed his disappointment when he saw the chapel of which he had heard glowing reports in the United States from those who had emigrated there from Llanuwchllyn. The chapel was taken down in 1871 and rebuilt to the same plan. The chapel and chapel house have been listed as Grade II.

Full history in R.T. Jenkins, Hanes Cynulleidfa Hen Gapel Llanuwchllyn, Bala 1937, which has a photo of the 1810 rebuilt building.

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