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Bethlehem Independent Chapel,  Machynlleth, Wales, urbex, abandoned welsh chapel, derelict wales
'Chapel 1876'
Bethlehem Independent Chapel, 
Machynlleth, Wales

Found purely by chance in 2015 whilst searching for a derelict house nearby.

Bethlehem Independent Chapel was built in 1836 and rebuilt in 1876 in the Simple Round-Headed style of long-wall entry type.

On the outside brickwork can be seen a stone plaque built into the brickwork with the word 'Bethlehem' and the date 1876 [hence my naming the chapel as such]. 

Inside the chapel there is still a large framed poster hanging on a wall with a gallery of portraits of gentleman and is titled: 'Oriel yr Annibynwyr Cymreig, 1916' - in English this translates to 'Welsh Independents' Gallery', 1916'.

Information from the daibach-welldigger.blogspot:

Bethlehem Independent Chapel was built in 1836, and seems to have been a work established out of the Independent chapel in Dinas Mawddwy, just three miles away to the south. It was developed for the convenience of the people of Cwm Cywarch, to save them walking all the way to Dinas Mawddwy, particulary in winter, which presumably they had been used to doing in earlier years.

Ebeneser, the Independent chapel there, had been established in 1795. However, there is no mention of the cause in Cwm Cywarch in 'Hanes Eglwysi Annibynnol Cymru', even in the section on the Dinas Mawddwy chapel. The ministers of the latter would have conducted most of the services at Bethlehem, and the chapel was first built in the time that one Thomas Williams was the minister there.

Originally from Pennal near Machynlleth, he served at Dinas Mawddwy from 1829 to 1839. Prior to the chapel being built at a cost of £27. 10s. 8 1/2d, Sunday School meetings for all ages had been held in some of the local farms, notable Ceunant, but also at Blaencowarch. The chapel was subsequently rebuilt in 1876 for the cost of a little more than £100. The entire cost of the re-construction was covered by the end of the day it was opened.


A newspaper article from 1901 records that the following individuals played an important part in the chapel's history in the 19th century: There have been faithful men associated with the cause from time to time. Lewis Roberts, Llwynon; William Edwards, Ceunant; John Jones, Blaencowarch; and the late William Jones, Ddalfa. Llwynon, Ceunant and Blaencowarch all still exist, but Ddalfa has now disappeared, though it is marked on old maps.

The chapels would no doubts have been places where an existing long-standing musical tradition in the valley found expression. There were those who for some generations had been associated with harp-playing and related penillion singing, or cerdd dant - a uniquely Welsh musical form which has been strongly revived in recent years, and which involves the singing of poetry as a counter-melody to the accompaniment of a different harp tune, the two finishing together.

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