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Lady Llanover's Welsh Church (aka St Luke's Church), Abercarn, Monmouthshire

Name: Lady Llanover's Welsh Church (originally St Luke's Church)

Denomination: Calvinistic Methodist / Presbyterian (shared with Anglicans since 1980)

Built: 1853
Improved: 1903

Note 1: Abercarn Methodist Chapel was built in 1853 and improved in 1903. The chapel is built in the Simple Gothic style of the gable entry type.
[Source: Coflein database (NPRN 13130)]

Note 2: In 1868, the preacher the Rev D Saunders, accepted an invitation to Lady Llanover's chapel at Abercarn. The church there, under his care, prospered greatly, and he succeeded also in having the building and the endowment transferred to the Calvinistic Methodist Body, and to render the service more acceptable to Nonconformists.
[Source: GENUKI website]

  Colour photography: John Ball
Date: 31 August 2004
Camera: Fuji Finepix S602 Zoom digital
Lady Llanover Church, Abercarn

Below: Lady Llanover's Welsh Church, photographed in late 19th century.
Lady Llanover Church, Abercarn
[Original photo held by Gwent Archives (album MISC MSS 1931), but see also Gathering the Jewels website]

Note 3: In 1853 Sir Benjamin Hall gave Abercarn a Welsh Anglican church. It was to serve the needs of the Welsh speaking Anglicans, but when a dispute arose with the vicar of Mynyddislwyn [the mother parish], who wished to introduce one English service weekly, Sir Benjamin transferred the building and its parsonage (and the Capel Cae Celynen) in 1862 to the Welsh Calvinistic Methodists. [Quoted by Fred Hando from Glimpses of West Gwent by Rex Pugh]
I then had a glimpse of [the church's] picturesque lines from the vicarage garden. In company with the vicar—the Rev David Brunning—I journeyed up the tree-lined drive to the west facade of the church. Over the porch I read the stone inscription 'A B H 1853', indicating that the church was a joint gift of husband and wife [Augusta and Benjamin Hall]. The inpressive western gallery bore the arms, in full colour, of Queen Victoria and of Benjamin and Augusta Hall. Twenty-seven pews suggested that congregations of more than 200 were expected; the handsome three-decker pulpit was surmounted by a brass commemorating Lord Llanover, and this, like all other inscriptions, was in Welsh. I should record that the stonework throughout, the timbers of roof and pews and pulpit, the delicate tracery of the windows, bear tribute to the loving care bestowed on this beautiful sanctuary. Its memory will remain with me as of a gem set in upland sylvan serenity.
[Source: Fred Hando in Hando's Gwent - Volume I, by Chris Barber (ed), Blorenge Books, Aber-gavenny, 1987; ISBN 0-9510444-5-1]

Note 4:    South Wales Argus, 21 July 2011
Churchgoers in Abercarn are being urged to attend a public meeting tonight that could help decide the fate of the village's last remaining place of worship. The meeting, at 7pm at St Luke's Church, Abercarn, will gauge support in Abercarn for its Welsh Church, which faces an uncertain future due to the imminent end of a sharing agreement. St Luke's, built in 1853, is owned by the Presbyterian Church of Wales, but since the 1980s has been used by the Church in Wales. That sharing agreement comes to an end next February however, and the Church in Wales has been offered a lease on the building. But St Luke's, as the Argus reported in April, needs considerable investment, having endured the twin hardships of vandalism and the rigours of time. If St Luke's were to close, the worshippers' next nearest church is in neighbouring Cwmcarn.
[Source: South Wales Argus website]

Lady Llanover Church, Abercarn
Above: Lady Llanover's Welsh Church, sketch by Fred Hando
[Hando's Gwent - Volume I, by Chris Barber (ed), Blorenge Books,
Abergavenny, 1987; ISBN 0-9510444-5-1]

Note 5: Augusta Hall (later Lady Llanover) firmly believed that no person and no animal should work on a Sunday and since the nearest Anglican Church was five miles up hill, horses and people would have to work very hard to get there. As a result, she built a church at Abercarn in which the Welsh speaking Anglicans of the area could hold services. This building remained the property of the Halls. A decade or so after the church was built, the vicar asked permission to hold one service a month in English for the increasing number of outsiders coming to work in the mines and iron works in the valley. The Halls (by then Lord and Lady Llanover) refused and turfed out the Anglicans and the Presbyterians were in. It was 1890 before another church was built for the Anglicans: a corrugated iron building which became the Parish Church of the new Parish of Abercarn. It remained as such until the new St Luke's was built and consecrated in 1926. The Llanovers will be revolving in their graves: English services being held in their Welsh Church!
[Source: Linda Joyce's blog on the website]

For more information about Lady Llanover, visit the Lady Llanofer: The Bee of Gwent website]

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