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Latitude: 51.8189 / 51°49'8"N
Longitude: -3.1167 / 3°6'59"W
OS Eastings: 323127
OS Northings: 213957
OS Grid: SO231139
Mapcode National: GBR F1.WPJJ
Mapcode Global: VH6CP.XJQY
Entry Name: Bethlehem Baptist Chapel including Vestry and Front Boundary Walls
Listing Date: 27 July 2000
Last Amended: 27 July 2000
Source ID: 23836
Building Class: Religious, Ritual and Funerary
Location: Maesygwartha is a scattered settlement, located some 1km S of Llanelly Church. Chapel stands on N side of by-road leading to Gilwern, within small sloping cemetery.
Community: Llanelly (Llanelli)
Traditional County: Brecknockshire
Dated December 25th 1830, the date of opening. Tradition is that the opening service had to be delayed, until the varnish on the seats was dry. Bethlehem was one of the later daughter chapels of the early cause at Llanwenarth. Rev. James Lewis, minister of Llanwenarth (who came form Llangloffan, Pembs, a noted early Baptist cause) started preaching locally in 1792, at the home of Lewis Jarrett. Several local people wished to build a chapel immediately, but members of Llanwenarth Chapel resisted this, as they feared a resultant decline of their own congregation. Eventually, the chapel was erected, but only with limited services allowed, so as to encourage attendance of the mother chapel at Llanwenarth. Chapel opened under Rev. Francis Hiley. Under the ministry of J. Vintin, Bethlehem established its own membership, with self-appointed Deacons. With the closure of Clydach Ironworks and Llanelly Forge in 1877, the congregation rapidly depleted. Alterations made during the ministry of Rev. R. Johns (1880-1900), including the addition of the vestry: the pulpit was probably renewed at a slightly earlier date.
Rubble ironstone construction. Slate roof with projecting eaves and bargeboards. Handsome symmetrical lateral facade with windows to both storeys. Upper storey has tall round-arched window to right and left, stone voussoirs, and 6-pane C20 metal window with leaded panes. Unusual oval window to upper centre with stone voussoirs and radiating glazing: lowest voussoir dated 1830. Ground floor has central round-arched doorway, stone voussoirs, C20 panelled doors with radiating fanlight. Segmentally headed window each side with glazing as above, stone voussoirs. Above door is small oval tablet, with carefully radiated voussoirs inscribed: ‘Bethlehem Dec. 25th 1830’ Blank right gable. Rear elevation with two tall segmentally-headed windows. To right is later lower vestry with hipped roof. Upper floor has marginally glazed sash window to left, and panelled door to right; stone lintels. Door is reached via short flight of steps cutting across front wall of chapel. Boarded ground floor door to left. First floor of left end has sash window as above; door below with small window to right.
Front boundary walls of rubble construction. Central square gatepiers of hammer-dressed limestone with slab copings; paired iron gates with scrolled end-posts, dog-rail with curved bracings above: spear finials. Wall continues some 20 metres to the right as retaining wall of sloping cemetery. To left is short roadside section, with wall ramped up each end; terminating moulded stone coping to left, before wall returns to meet steps to vestry door.
Largely of 1830. Three-sided gallery on plain iron columns; front with tall panels, with deeply coloured ‘grained’ finish. Gallery benches with railed backs. Box-type pews with grained finish: pews in side bays are arranged laterally: to right side is central opening for former fireplace (grate removed, but chimney breast remains). Later C19 pulpit of platform type: bullnosed front with turned balusters and central panelled lectern, side stairs with similar balusters and turned newels. Panelled pedimented timber frame behind pulpit with fluted pilasters. Flat ceiling with square central wooden ventilator: satellite ventilators to corners.
Listed as an unusually well-designed early C19 chapel, with original interior including pews and gallery. The history of Bethlehem illustrates well the setting up of new causes from the established ‘mother’ chapels.
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