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Bethesda Chapel, Bailey Street, Ton Pentre, Ystradyfodwg, Glamorgan

Name: Bethesda

Denomination: Welsh Independent

Built: 1877
Rebuilt: 1906
Photography: Google
Date: July 2012
Camera: Google StreetView digital

Note 1: Bethesda Independent Chapel was built in 1877 (as Maendy Hall) and rebuilt in 1906. The present chapel, dated 1906, was designed by architect W. David Morgan of Cardiff, and buillt in the Classical and Romanesque style with a gable-entry plan, two storeys and leaded glazing. By 1993 this building was no longer in use as a chapel but undergoing conversion for commumity use. Bethesda is now Grade 2 Listed as a well-preserved and unusually detailed turn-of-the-century chapel. [Source: Coflein database of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (accessed 4 October 2015)]

Bethesda Chapel, Ton Pentre

Note 2: Situated on an island site within the grid pattern of the neighbouring streets in this central area of Ton Pentre just West of the river and railway crossing and adjacent to the churchyard of St John's Church, Ystradyfodwg. [Source: British Listed Buildings website, where a detailed description is available (accessed 4 October 2015)]

Bethesda Chapel, Ton Pentre
Above: The side (on Queen Street) and rear (on Pryse Street) of the Bethesda Chapel site.

Note 3: At Ton Pentre, Bethesda Congregationalist starkly reflects the [ailing] situation. Rebuilt and enlarged at the end of the chapel era in 1906, its imposing façade embodies a central pediment flanked by a balustraded parapet, fluted pilasters, quoins and a very non-Nonconformist quartet of angelic gargoyles. Seating almost 1,000 people, its pitch pine interior is both beautiful and aromatic; arches from the gallery to the ceiling provide a mosque-like quality; the pipe organ is kept in glorious voice. Here was a great church. Yet its membership has collapsed [in 1988] to just 11 people, who cling to a tradition established in 1876 but face seemingly inevitable closure.
There are hopes that Bethesda will be listed as a building of historic importance. If so it will be in line with the aims of Capel, which was formed largely through the inspiration of Anthony Jones, a Welshman who is now president of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Professor Jones's seminal studies on Welsh chapel architecture fuel the growing campaign to record church histories, collect Nonconformist artifacts, and preserve the more noteworthy buildings.
[Source: Saving the Chapels of Wales, an article by Hywel Davies, published 27 March 1988 and available on the website of The New York Times (accessed 4 October 2015)]

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