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Brychgoed Chapel, Heol Senni

Brychgoed Chapel, Heol Senni, Breconshire

Name: Brychgoed Chapel

Denomination: Independent

Built: 1740
Rebuilt: 1844

Notes:
1. The chapel was built in 1740, and rebuilt in 1844. The gallery was removed in 1939. Built in the Simple Gothic style, long-wall entry type, in its present form dating from 1844.
[Source: Coflein database; NPRN 6154]
2. Among the original members of this [Brychgoed] church the most prominent was Mr. John Watkins, who lived at Brychgoed Farm, and owned it. Tradition has preserved us the following story respecting the site on which the chapel stands. Mr. Watkins being the owner of his farm, offered any plot of land on it for building purposes. Mr. Jones, of Pontypool, was to decide on the same. Mr. Jones was on a visit to Mr. Watkins's house, and on being asked where he would like the chapel to be; said that he wished a night to think the matter over and to consult the Lord. On the following morning he asked Mr. Watkins if he had a field on his farm with a pool of water in it? He was told there was such a field. Then, said Mr. Jones, "That is the spot, for I dreamt last night that I saw a pool of water with twelve fishes in it; one of which was larger than the rest, and on it the others kept looking. You, Mr. Watkins, was the big fish, and you are to be minister of this church." The chapel was built on the spot where the pool was and Mr. Watkins became the first minister, and was ordained .August 15th, 1744.
[Extracted from The Illustrated History and Biography of Brecknockshire by Edwin Poole, published by the author, 1886]

Photography: John Ball (exterior shots) / Jennifer Cairns (interior shots)
Dates: 26 May 2004 (exterior) / 20 May 2004 (interior)
Cameras: Fuji Finepix S602 Zoom digital (exterior) / Fuji Finepix A204 digital (interior)

Brychgoed Chapel, Heol Senni

Brychgoed Chapel, Heol Senni

Brychgoed Chapel, Heol Senni

Right: Painting of Rev John Stephens (1809-1872) on the wall of the chapel.

Easter, 1838, saw Mr. John Stephens settling here as pastor. Mr. Stephens continued to labour till his death in May, 1872.
The history of this church for the last 50 years has been so influenced by the life of this pastor that a short sketch of Mr. Stephens's career may not be out of place just here. Mr. Stephens was born at Pantyberllan, in the parish of Llangathen, in the county of Carmarthen, November, 1809. He, with his brothers, N. Stephens, Liverpool, and D. Stephens, Glantaf, and his cousin, Dr. Rees, Swansea, received religious impressions at an early age, and he began exercising his gifts at the ancient church at Capel Isaac. His mother was a woman of extraordinary abilities and rare piety. The family has given to the church no fewer than 25 preachers. Mr. Stephens's first sermon was delivered August, 1830. The subject was "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" For some time he was educated at Rhydybont, by Rev. William Jones, afterwards of Swansea. He kept a day school at Carmel for a short time. In 1837 he received a call from the church at Brychgoed, and on Easter 1888, he was ordained here. From that time till his death, in 1872, he discharged his ministerial duties with. fidelity and success. In January, 1841, he married Miss Elizabeth Thomas, of Bedwlwyn, and she was a true helpmate, and a mother deeply beloved by her children. In 1850 Mr. Stephens removed to Pantglas, and there he resided the remainder of his days, and was regarded as a shrewd successful farmer, with a clear judgment. Soon after his ordination in 1838 the church showed signs of improvement. In 1843 Mr. Stephens undertook the charge of Libanus. In 1861 the chapel at Libanus was rebuilt. In 1866 the chapel at Devynnock was built, and was also under his charge. Then for some years Mr. Stephens had the oversight of four churches, Brychgoed, Cwmcamlais, Libanus, and Devynnock, and preached three times every Sunday. Mr. Stephens was the prime mover in the building of two new chapels-Cwmcamlais and Devynnock-and the building of two others-Brychgoed and Libanus-and paying for them all. But Mr. Stephens's services were much sought after by all the churches in the county, as well as by the whole Principality. His counsel was final on any question of dispute, and his marvellous knowledge of human nature, and keen insight into human character, enabled him to unite contending parties when all other means had failed. Most people looked upon him as an embodiment of common sense. As a preacher he was racy and sometimes very telling. His illustrations were invariably taken from the life-scenes of agriculturalists, and were on that account always well understood by his people. Many of his remarks, uttered with the precision of proverbs, remain to this day in the memory of the elder Independents of Brecknockshire, and are, accepted as decisive on any subject. No man ever served his generation with greater fidelity than he.
[Extracted from The Illustrated History and Biography of Brecknockshire by Edwin Poole, published by the author, 1886]

A further selection of photographs of Brychgoed Chapel is available here

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