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Capel Troedyrhiw

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What: Welsh Independents' Chapel
Where: Alltwalis, Carmarthenshire
Built: 1896-7
Architect: D. Lewis Jones of Llanelli
Abandoned: Before 2005?
Listed: Grade II
Visited: 2014
Last Known Condition: Being refurbished
Page Updated: June 2019

Outside, traffic thunders past, rattling the windows in their rotting frames. Inside, bare floorboards creak underfoot and bare walls echo the sound. Pieces of ceiling plaster litter the floor and hymnals lie scattered among the pews. The building is imbued with sadness: the end of a dream, the loss of community, faded grandeur, lives' work gone to ruin.

View from the gallery
View from the gallery

''Index to the texts''
Index to the texts

Key in the lock
Key in the lock

[click images below to expand & enlarge]

East front facing the road Arched window with 'Italianate' tracery Datestone  (Built/ 1833/ Rebuilt/ 1897) Doorway with pilasters, moulded arch and       <br> rusticated keystone. Fanlight Vestibule Stained glass detail ''Service in the vestry'' Window and stairs Etched window detail Gallery View from the gallery Ceiling detail Pendant lights Cast iron panel set in the gallery rail Looking towards the pulpit and <i>Sedd  Fawr</i> (Deacon's Pew) Cast iron column with acanthus-and-scroll capital Gallery, clock and pews Clock by Tew of Carmarthen, c1897 North aisle Carving on the <i>Sedd Fawr</i> (Deacon's Pew) Vestry There is a balm... Vestry window Maintenance shed A congregation at rest

The Llanllawddog Congregationalist meeting was established around 1784 when members of the Pencader congregation started preaching at Glynadda, a farmstead near Alltwalis, north of Carmarthen. Services were held in various farmhouses until 1806 when the members took out a lease on a house at Troedyrhiw (a hamlet to the west of Carmarthen) and established a permanent church there. The house was enlarged in 1819 to make it more suitable for worship, but by the 1830s the congregation had outgrown the small chapel: in 1832, the congregation moved to a new chapel in the centre of Alltwalis, with the building costs being met by local subscription. Around 1872, the Llanllawdog congregationalists joined the newly-formed Union of Welsh Independents (Undeb yr Annibynwyr Cymraeg), so called because each congregation independently manages its own affairs. The Annibynwyr is a voluntary association of churches and since each congregation claims to be under the sole authority of Christ, there are no bishops or other formal leaders. In 1896-7, the chapel was rebuilt yet again, this time on a grander scale to a design by D. Lewis Jones of Llanelli. The new chapel had a stuccoed Italianate façade, stained pine pews and a tiered wooden gallery supported by cast iron columns, in short, typical of the confident yet understated style of nonconformist architecture.

The story of Capel Troedyrhiw is one that has been repeated all over Wales: the passing of faithful elders, a falling away of faith in the younger generation and a decline in rural population. I haven't been able to ascertain when Capel Troedyrhiw closed, but it was missing window panes by 2005 and was becoming derelict by 2010, when it was offered for sale. As of September 2014 the building was in a shocking state with windows holed, stairs collapsing and ceilings shedding their plaster. The future? Housing, most likely; too far out to be used for much else, especially when there is already a community hall opposite. The woodwork, beautiful though it is will go: pews ripped out, dividing walls put in. The first rule of preservation is that not everything can be saved.

Rees, T. and Thomas, J., 1871, 'Hanes Eglwysi Annibynnol Cymru' Vol. III Pp.427-8

Anon, 1999 'Alltwalis Independent Chapel, including vestry to rear, Llanfihangel-ar-Arth' [http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/wa-22266-alltwalis-independent-chapel-including-ve] Accessed 16/9/14


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