Monday, April 06, 2009

Rise and Fall of a Methodist Church

The Rhondda valleys are full of chapels. At one point in the nineteenth century one chapel was being opened every day on average. In Tonyrefail two buildings tell the story of one church, the Wesleyan Methodist Church. It opened in 1910, following the revival of 1904, in a temporary 'tin tabernacle' structure on Mill Street, illustrated below.
In 1925 the Methodists opened a brand-new stone chapel in the Gothic style. Called St. George's Church, it was built in the best ecclesiastical style. The message of St. George's is that the Methodists were now a force to be reckoned with in Tonyrefail. But the peak of church attendance in the Rhondda had been reached, and as a new theology, quite different from that of the old Methodists, came into the churches, buildings like St George's became symbols of an ecclesiastical pride. After the Second World War, congregations began to decline, and the splendid stone buildings became embarassingly empty.St. George's Methodist Church closed in 1970. The building is now a day centre.
Across the road is another reminder of how the gains of the revival of 1904 were lost. The former Apostolic Church may not be as impressive as the Gothic church, but it too came through the revival. And now the simple brick structure with its iron roof is also closed. I decided not to read the planning notice on the front door, as the hedge is more than a little overgrown.

Tinyrefail has an excellent site that was the source of some of the information here.



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