Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Tin Tabernacles of Trebanog

Trebanog, Rhondda Cynon Taf, is a village on top of a hill, locted between Tonyrefail and Porth. Unlike many of the Rhondda villages, it is not dominated by splendid chapels, but the only places of worship in the village are two 'Tin Tabernacle' structures, prefabricated mission churches built in the late 19th century. Intended as temporary buildings to be replaced when the money was available, both are still in use.

Mount Zion English Baptist Church is the smallest and most unprepossessing of the buildings, with only the single pointed window above the porch with its stained-glass cross showing any ecclesiastical pretensions at all. It has been modified over the years, the original iron roof and walls having been replaced, and the windows also appear to have been replaced. The frame of the building, of course, is original. The Trinitarian Bible Society poster in the window is an interesting sign.Mount Zion is an example of the smaller type of Tin Tabernacle (also referred to as 'Iron Churches'), four walls and a roof, with a small vestry on one side. These smaller buildings were multi-purpose mission halls, and usually equipped with movable chairs rather than pews, so that the space could be used for other activities in the week.

The other chapel in Trebanog is the English Congregational Church. This is a slightly grander version of the Tin Tabernacle, with its round-headed windows and its semi-circular window over the door. It is taller than Mount Zion, and more ecclesiastical in appearance, although in the chapel, rather than the church style - no pointed windows here! Unlike Mount Zion, it still appears to have the original wall-cladding and windows.

Both of these old Tin Tabernacles are still in use and well-loved.



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