Sardis History

A growing group of independent worshippers decided in 1780 to build a chapel on a plot of land leased from the Duke of Beaufort near the river Usk in Llangynidr. The Minister, Revd John Jenkins, collected the funds but absconded with the money before the building was completed. The site and building had to be sold to pay off the debts incurred. The Baptists in Llangynidr were travelling to Llanwenarth Chapel in Govilon at this time and they agreed to take over the site. It continued to be called ‘Sardis Chapel’.

The independent congregational fellowship recovered from this unfortunate setback and worshipped in local houses until 1829. Mr Thomas from Beaufort rented a house which was converted into the Independent Chapel. This was situated in the top left hand corner of what is now the old graveyard opposite the present chapel building. Also named Sardis like the Baptist Chapel – which has led to the village residents referring to it as ‘top chapel’. It was completed in 1838 and according to the 1851 religious census it provided 240 free seats; 30 standing places and there was a gallery with 120 seats. In 1845 a Tea Meeting was held to help pay off debts. Tickets were one shilling each – a lot of money in those days – and tea on the table at 2pm prompt!

In 1856 Mr David Thomas came from Carmarthen to Llangynidr to be Pastor and encouraged the building of the present ‘top chapel’ across the road on land given by the Jones family of Pwllcourt. It was opened in 1890. Revd Thomas remained at Llangynidr for 40 years.

When a graveyard was required a field behind the chapel was secured along with two cottages at 1 & 2 Penrheol. These were rented out until sold in 1976 for £11,000.

In 1898 a student from Brecon Memorial College, Gomer Harries, was ordained at Sardis and served there for 40 years. He resided at the Garth, opposite the chapel.

1952 saw the ministry of Dilwyn Williams who lived in the manse – now the recently refurbished vestry building alongside the chapel.  His wife started the Ladies Guild which still thrives with its main event being the Mini Sale held every year in the Village Hall on the first Monday of November. After his family left the chapel had visiting ministers each week. Some coming on the bus on a Saturday evening and staying until Monday morning, others just coming for the Sunday – all given hospitality by the members of the church.

For over one hundred years a tea party and concert were held on Easter Monday in the chapel. It was the highlight of the year. Tea was served in the chapel – making tables by placing planks across the top of the pews. For the concert the sedd fawr ( big seat) – normally reserved for the Elders – was made up as a stage by putting planks across.

The chapel is now one of nine forming the Brecon Beacons Pastorate of the URC, currently served by a team of two ministers.