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Groeswen Chapel

A Grade II* Listed Building in Penyrheol, Trecenydd and Energlyn (Pen-yr-heol, Trecenydd ac Eneu'r-glyn), Caerphilly

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.5751 / 51°34'30"N

Longitude: -3.2597 / 3°15'35"W

OS Eastings: 312797

OS Northings: 186998

OS Grid: ST127869

Mapcode National: GBR HT.CYL0

Mapcode Global: VH6DS.GN2X

Entry Name: Groeswen Chapel

Listing Date: 4 August 1987

Last Amended: 25 May 1999

Grade: II*

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 13573

Building Class: Religious, Ritual and Funerary

Location: Set within its burial ground, the chapel faces the road with vestry adjoining to the W. Located at the E end of Groeswen village.

County: Caerphilly

Town: Caerphilly

Community: Penyrheol, Trecenydd and Energlyn (Pen-yr-heol, Trecenydd ac Eneu'r-glyn)

Community: Penyrheol, Trecenydd and Energlyn

Locality: Groeswen

Traditional County: Glamorgan

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History

Groeswen was built in 1742, the first meeting place in Wales of the Calvinistic Methodists. The Methodist revival in Eglwysilan followed the visit of Hywel Harris of Trevecca in the 1730s, who came at the invitation of the Rev. David Williams of Pwllypant, and later, Watford Chapel. Following doctrinal disputes, the Calvinistic Methodists, under Harris, split from the Rev. David Williams and the Independents. The first society house at Groeswen was built by volunteers under the direction of William Edwards (1719-1789), the bridge builder and first joint minister of the chapel, who was an early convert to Methodism. It was designed for the 'public worship of God, or a school for the education of children'.

Although the influence of Hywel Harris soon declined, the society grew rapidly and the chapel was either enlarged or rebuilt in 1766. William Edwards was buried at St. Ilan's Church because there was no graveyard at Groeswen. This was rectified in the period 1798-1801: The earliest inscription in the burial ground is to Elizabeth Morgan who died in October 1801. The chapel was enlarged in 1830-1 so that it could accommodate 600 people, whilst the burial ground was extended to the E in 1865. Known as the 'Westminster of Wales', the burial ground contains a range of displayful monuments, many of which are to ministers and benefactors of the chapel.

The present chapel dates to c1874, when it was decided that a complete renovation was required at an estimated cost of £1,025. This was undertaken by the Rev. William Nicholson, with some church fittings provided by the Thomas family of Aber Fawr.

The vestry is probably C18. It is shown on the tithe map of 1841, and was a British School in 1866, established by the charismatic minister, William Williams ('Caledfryn'). It was converted to a vestry in 1878.

Exterior

The chapel is Classical-style, with a 3-bay gable end facade, with open pedimented gable containing a giant glorification arch. Constructed of coursed rubble stone, rendered to rear and sides, with ashlar dressings, under a C20 pantile roof. The front has long and short quoins, urn and obelisk finial, round-headed openings with vermiculated keystones and impost capitals. Arched doorway with 1742 incised date, containing double panelled doors. Stepped triple-light window above, with bracket sill and ogee tracery to central light. Scroll-work panel over window reading 'Y groes wen'. Quatrefoil under glorification arch. Tall windows to outer bays with original glazing bars. Two-storey, 2-window E wall, with round-arched, horned 4-pane sashes. A pair of tall narrow arched windows to rear.

Two-storey vestry adjoining to R, cement rendered with slate roof and W end stack. Central lean-to porch with stair to L providing access to 1st floor doorway. Entrance flanked by C20 windows. Two C20 ground floor doors, half-lit and partly boarded. Stone mounting steps to R. To the rear, 3 windows to upper storey, and 3 small irregular windows to the lower storey, all C20.

The chapel and adjoining vestry are within a railed forecourt, with large burial ground to rear, with a fine collection of C19 and C20 monuments.

Interior

Entrance vestibule with stairs to L and R leading to gallery. Boarded doors lead into chapel, between which is a square window with wooden diamond glazing bars and coloured margin glazing. Three-sided gallery on narrow cast iron columns with foliate capitals. Panelled and decorated gallery front, with clock in centre, reading Barry/Cardiff. Polygonal pulpit, behind which is a round-headed archway in moulded and decorated plaster. Inside the arch is a bronze plaque bearing a portrait in relief of William Edwards. Underneath the portrait, it reads 'To the memory of Rev. William Edwards, the self-taught engineer and builder of the world famed bridge over the River Taff at Pontypridd ... He was the first minister of the church, which he faithfully and earnestly served for 40 years'. The work is by Goscombe John and is dated 1906. Windows with red and blue stained glass flank the arch. Boarded surround to ceiling and ornate plaster ceiling rose. Three banks of box pews with circular heads to pew ends. Three tiers of pews to gallery.

The upper storey of the vestry has a planked door and wainscot panelling. Late C20 fireplace to W end.

Reasons for Listing

Listed grade II* for its national historic interest as being the first Calvinistic Methodist Chapel in Wales. A number of charismatic leaders were associated with the chapel and some are buried in the graveyard. The memorial to William Edwards, sited prominently inside the chapel, is of additional special interest.
Group value with monuments in burial ground.

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