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Coleg Trefeca

A Grade II* Listed Building in Talgarth, Powys

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Latitude: 51.9811 / 51°58'52"N

Longitude: -3.2478 / 3°14'52"W

OS Eastings: 314398

OS Northings: 232142

OS Grid: SO143321

Mapcode National: GBR YW.K70X

Mapcode Global: VH6BV.NGDM

Plus Code: 9C3RXQJ2+CV

Entry Name: Coleg Trefeca

Listing Date: 28 September 1961

Last Amended: 14 August 1995

Grade: II*

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 6637

Building Class: Domestic

Location: Located on a minor lane to Cefn mawr, the main building facing NE. Also known as Trefeca Fach.

County: Powys

Community: Talgarth

Community: Talgarth

Locality: Trefeca

Traditional County: Brecknockshire

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The farm of Trevecka fawr was the home of Howel Harris, (1714 - 1773) who was schooled in Talgarth, and at the dissenting academy at Llwyn-llwyd. As a result of an overwhelming spiritual experience at Talgarth in 1735 under the influence of the Rev. Pryce Davies, he was converted to missionary work. He set up at Trevecka fach his 'teulu' as a model of Christian life and co-operation, and began a life dedicated to preaching in Wales, setting up further 'seiat', the first being at Y Wernos, Llandyfalle. His success drew the attention of John Wesley, whom he met in Bristol in 1739 and agreed separate areas of prozletising, and also of Selina Hastings, the Countess of Huntingdon, whose influence on Harris from late 1739 was significant to his further work. He drew many supporters and followers, including George Whitefield (from 1739), William Williams, Pantycelyn, teacher at Llwyn llwyd, and Peter Williams. Harris and Daniel Rowlands underwent a public schism at Llandiloes in 1750, partly due to Harris being inspired by the Moravians after a visit to Fulbeck, and he returned home to Trefeca.

He received a donation from Madam Sidney Griffith of Cefnamlwch of รบ900 in 1752 for the enlargement of the house, and for the building of community buildings, a chapel, infirmary, bathhouse, dovecote and a fishpond. Building apparently commenced forthwith in a Kentian 'Modern Gothick style', then being newly promoted by Sanderson Miller at Lacock, and by Bateman, under the influence of Walpole, at Shobdon, Herefordshire, although further enlightenment on Harris's choice of style has not survived (Alwyn Lloyd claims that Harris acted as his own architect). Harris's influence in the world of dissenting protestantism continued however, and Wesley visited Trefeca in 1756, 1763 and 1769. Harris, with his brother Joseph, also became involved in agriculture, founding the first agricultural society in the Principality in 1754 [Society for the Improvement of Agriculture in Breconshire], and established a printing press at Trefeca in 1758. This continued to operate until 1806, printing inter alia the John Canne Bible in 1790. Harris also established, in 1756, a school for woollen manufacture with 8 looms. At one time there were 120 people resident, plying up to 60 crafts and trades.
The property was bought in 1838 as a Theological College (Calvanistic Methodist) which commenced activities in 1842, and closed in 1906, having built the present chapel. The present college in now the Lay Training Centre for the Presbyterian Church of Wales.


The main building has four phases, the pre-1752 farmhouse, which is not now discernable, the 1752 to 1759 Gothick phase, modifications by the Calvanistic College in the mid C19, and further alterations of c1910-20.

Main building of 1752-1759, pebbledashed and colourwashed rubble, with slate roofs. Central low gabled block containing the entrance hall flanked by forward wings, the W wing doubled. Central tall Gothic panelled door with overlight approached by steps, flanked by sash windows, originally with tracery, now sash, all within stone framed openings with pointed gothick heads and hood mouldings all at the same level. Above a stone scroll reading INITIUM SAPIENTIAE TIMOR DOMINI, above which the initials TC (Trevecka College) in a stone shield.

The left, SE, wing is articulated by tall corner and one centre turrets rising originally 3 storeys to a crenellated parapet, now reduced to a single storey with gable over a basement. The right wing is further brought forward, also having corner turrets and gable, and retains its original triple ogee-headed windows with intersecting glazing bars, the upper ones modified. The outer wing is also gabled. The rear elevation, now recessed behind additions, also has corner turrets. The clock tower was added in 1754, the clock now removed to the site museum. In the SW corner; - an 'L'-shaped block, pebbledashed with sprocketed and hipped slate roof and strong dentilled pulvinated cornice, with, on the upper floor, corner Venetian windows flanked by pilasters, possibly later C18 work, but much repaired. Other windows 6 and 12-paned sashes. Two small dormers and brick stacks. The NW front has a 2-storey canted bay, and recessed centre, the round headed door now converted to a window, with the clock tower, set back, above.


Entrance hall remodelled c1913, has a high boarded ceiling with painted decoration, and stair splitting level to teaching areas on an upper floor and to the earlier building, now Warden's accommodation, below. This has the small 'Lady Huntingdon's Dining Room', with octagonal patterned moulded plaster ceiling, the central Eye of God missing, modillion cornices and panelled fireplace wall with scrolls to an open pediment, all in oak in a Gothick style, and originally hinged forward to form a working carrel. The present dining room has a more classical plaster ceiling, with egg and dart cornice, and fireplace originally with a painted classical corniced attic, now removed to the museum. Panelled doors. On the floor above, a good fireplace with eared architrave and decoration, and other C18 detail, all on a small scale. Other sections of the interior result from the mid C19 and later alterations.

Reasons for Listing

Listed Grade II* for the remarkable survival of Gothick work, for the exceptional interior rooms, and on account of its celebrated historical associations with the early history of nonconformism.

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