Introduction to the Area

Introduction to the Area

The Brecon Beacons Pastorate is situated within the Brecon Beacons National Park and is an area of outstanding natural beauty and historical interest. The area has two major rivers, the glorious Wye and equally lovely Usk. Both rivers wind their way through the mountainous and valley region before reaching the Severn Estuary. The area is served by a good road system linking with major trunk roads and motorways.

Abergavenny in the east is regarded as “the gateway to Wales”. It is a busy market town situated on the A40 trunk road which connects London to Fishguard. Abergavenny was originally a Roman fort, and remains of the occupation can still be seen. The medieval stone castle was built soon after the Norman Conquest.

The other communities in the area include Glasbury, where the beautiful Maesyronnen Chapel is located – the oldest non-conformist chapel in Wales. Brecon itself is an historic market town with strong military presence and the pastorate extends up onto the Epynt which is also one of the UK‟s major army training areas.

The cities of Hereford and Brecon are within a 20 mile radius, and Newport and Cardiff an hour and a half travelling time to the south. From Abergavenny the excellent road system will take you south to the M4 and north to the M50, both reached within 30-45 minutes. The town is also situated on the main rail link from South Wales to Manchester providing easy connections to other places in the UK.

The area is rich in history, both ancient and more recent. There are a number of prehistoric and Roman remains, medieval border castles, and reminders of the industrial age. The Monmouthshire and Brecon canal runs through the Usk Valley for 35 miles from Brecon to Cwmbran. Nowadays it is a lively tourist attraction, but in its heyday in the 19th century, it carried coal, limestone and iron ore from the hillsides down to the industrial towns of South Wales.

The United Reformed Church Brecon Beacons Pastorate was first formed in 2004, and many changes have taken place since then. Today the Pastorate consists of ten churches and we have developed a way of working together which is quite difficult to explain but which, in practice, works well. Basically, ten local communities are too many for a Minister to get to know intimately so the ten churches are sub divided into two areas; East and West,

with five churches in each. The two ministers have primary responsibility for an area each but both work with, and are part of, both groups. Effectively this means that sometimes we work as ten chapels; sometimes as two, five-chapel areas (by dint of our geography), but primarily as one supportive church network. This has proved to be hugely beneficial to the mission of the churches since, like branches of a family, although we may live in our different houses but we are still always part of the one, big, supportive family that is the Brecon Beacons Pastorate. Our cohesion is what actually gives us our strength and encouragement.

East Region: Castle Street URC, Abergavenny, Gilwern URC, Talgarth United Free Church, (URC, PCW, Baptist Union of Wales), Sardis URC, Llangynidr, and Maesyronnen URC.

West Region: Libanus URC, Pennorth URC, Cwm Camlais UWI, Ebenezer URC, Upper Chapel, and The Plough Chapel, Brecon (URC & UWI)