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Welsh Presbyterian Church

A Grade II Listed Building in Abercarn, Caerphilly

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.6484 / 51°38'54"N

Longitude: -3.1327 / 3°7'57"W

OS Eastings: 321729

OS Northings: 195012

OS Grid: ST217950

Mapcode National: GBR J0.76QV

Mapcode Global: VH6DG.NT7P

Entry Name: Welsh Presbyterian Church

Listing Date: 17 December 1998

Last Amended: 17 December 1998

Grade: II

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 20995

Building Class: Religious, Ritual and Funerary

Location: On a steeply wooded slope, close to the Church of St Luke, reached by a steep flight of steps from Gwyddon Road to S and by a drive from Twyn Road just off High Street.

County: Caerphilly

Community: Abercarn

Community: Abercarn

Built-Up Area: Abercarn

Traditional County: Monmouthshire

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Abercarn

History

Built by Sir Benjamin Hall (1802 - 1867) in 1853. He was local landowner of Abercarn House (now demolished), Lord Lieutenant and an MP who became First Commissioner of Works 1855-8 and who gave his name to Big Ben. Created a baronet by Queen Victoria in 1859, he became Lord Llanover and with his wife Lady Llanover a patron of Welsh language and culture. The church here was built to their design specifically for Anglicans using the Welsh language - ' sole use of the native Cymru' - because of their disapproval at the appropriation by the Anglican church for services in English of buildings 'originally endowed by pious Welshmen for the benefit of the aboriginals of the soil'. Plans and opening of church described in Illustrated London News, and no formal guests were invited to the well-attended ceremony except the supportive Bishop and Rural Dean of Llandaff 'and those natives of the higher class residing in the district who understood the language'. Subsequently Lady Llanover adapted the Prayerbook Service especially for use in this church - 'The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacrament arranged for the Use of Lord Llanover's Welsh Church at Abercarn' - became known as The Use of Abercarn. Church was originally known as The Welsh Church. In 1862 following an argument over the appointment of a curate, a Calvinistic Methodist minister was appointed on condition that he should use the liturgy of the established church; subsequently following further arguments about its status it became Welsh Presbyterian. Since St Luke's church was abandoned in 1980s that congregation has shared use of the church with the Presbyterians. Benjamin Hall was the son of the industrialist of the same name, who was the son-in-law of Sir Richard Crawshay, who purchased the Abercarn Ironworks for him; he also was MP for Glamorgan. The second Sir Benjamin married Augusta Waddington of Llanover and on their marriage the estates of Abercarn and Llanover were united.

Exterior

A simple small chapel in Gothic Revival style. Of roughly dressed, coursed and snecked freestone with tooled ashlar dressings, those round the doors painted. Main roof is tiled, replaced to chancel, with stone tiles to porch and vestry. Plan of nave with bellcote, chancel, S porch, NE vestry. W front has 3-light window with cusped heads, chamfered mullions and hood; pointed arched W doorway has shield stops to the hoodmould, door with large decorative hinges; gabled bellcote with single bell, quatrefoil and small lancet below; large quoins with kneelers, wide coping, cruciform finials, sturdy cast-iron hoppers thoughout. S porch has pointed arched entrance doorway, hooded, chamfered and with shield stops; square datestone above with letters A B H (representing Augusta and Benjamin Hall, donors). Plain nave walls with large rectangular windows with trefoil-headed lights, deeply chamfered mullions, square hoodmoulds with stops; similar smaller to chancel; narrow priest's door. E window similar to W.

Interior

Interior has W gallery supported by slender cast iron piers, the single flight of stairs rising at NW corner behind a glazed vestibule partition, draped gallery front incorporating 3 coats of arms, relating to the donors, Sir Benjamin and Lady Augusta Hall. 4-centred arched scissor-braced nave roof in very narrow bays; wide splays to windows. Plain pointed chancel arch. In front on S side an unusual 3-decker pulpit with Gothic moulding. Chancel has Commandment Boards in Welsh on E wall; the heavy Gothic altar rails come from the now redundant St Luke's church. Some figurative stained glass, in particular E window Crucifixion, some canopywork, mostly diamond quarries. The decorative iron lanterns over the aisle are described in the account of the opening ceremony.

Reasons for Listing

Listed as a chapel of special interest to Welsh church history almost entirely unaltered since its opening in 1853.

Other nearby listed buildings

  • II* Church of St Luke
    Set into the wooded hillside above the Ebbw Vale just above the centre of Abercarn, reached up a side road and approached through a shallow stone tiled gateway and up a steep terraced double flight of
  • II Abercarn War Memorial
    In the centre of Abercarn Village, just E of the main thoroughfare, within a rectangular enclosed, part paved, public garden.
  • II The Gables
    Near the centre of Abercarn, set on a wooded terrace high above Commercial Road and reached by a drive off Rhyswg Road.
  • II Terraced steps at The Gables
    Set in the sloping garden below the garden frontage of the house.
  • II English Baptist Church and walled forecourt
    Just S of Abercarn village on the main thoroughfare between Abercarn and Cwmcarn.
  • II English Baptist Church Sunday School
    At right angles to the English Baptist Church, side-on to the main thoroughfare.
  • II Rhyswg Fawr Farmhouse and walled forecourt
    High on the mountain reached by a long lane and track rising from the SE end of Abercarn village, on the S side of the Gwyddon valley.
  • II Barn at Rhyswg Fawr
    Close to and on the same axis as the farmhouse but separated from it by a deep well; set into the slope a little downhill.

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