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Penrhiw Chapel at 50

Originally from Dre-fach Felindre, Carmarthenshire, Penrhiw Chapel re-opened at St Fagans: National History Museum in 1956 and to mark this 50th anniversary, a special service will be held on 10 December at 3pm at the chapel, which is now an attraction to thousands of visitors at the open air museum.

Welsh Unitarians from Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Cardiff will join in the advent celebrations at Penrhiw Chapel – the oldest Unitarian Chapel to have survived in Wales - led by the Reverend Eric Jones.

The building probably served as a barn when first built in the mid-eighteenth century, and was acquired by the Unitarians for use as a meeting house in 1777. Its capacity was later increased by the creation of a gallery in place of the upper floor.

“Penrhiw Chapel is a good example of an early nonconformist meeting house, where an earlier building – possibly a barn – was turned into a chapel for the Unitarians,” said Gerallt Nash, Senior Curator at St Fagans: National History Museum.

“Its architecture is simple, unpretentious yet effective, and is characteristic of early Welsh chapels with an earth floor and plain wooden pews. The size and design of the box pews on the bottom floor vary as they were built for different families, each of whom commissioned its own pew.

“The building was dismantled during the autumn of 1953, and was re-erected and re-opened to the public within three years. Although it is primarily a museum exhibit, it is nevertheless frequently used for services, and is one of the museum's most popular buildings.”

Reverend Eric Jones added: “Penrhiw Chapel was a focal point at Dre-fach Felindre and it continues to be a central attraction to visitors to St Fagans. The celebration on 10 December will provide an opportunity for people to recollect their memories about the chapel and celebrate the fact the building is preserved by National Museum Wales to be admired by thousands of people.”

St Fagans: National History Museum is part of Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales which operates six other national museums across Wales. These are National Wool Museum, Dre-fach Felindre, National Museum Cardiff, National Roman Legion Museum, Caerleon, Big Pit: National Coal Museum, Blaenafon, National Waterfront Museum and the National Slate Museum, Llanberis. Entry to all Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales sites is free, thanks to the support of the Welsh Assembly Government.

For interview opportunities or more photographs, please contact Catrin Mears, Communications Officer, 029 2057 3486 or email Catrin Mears.

Other Christmas events at St Fagans include:

  • 6, 7, 8 December: Christmas Nights – St Fagans: National History Museum celebrates a traditional Welsh Christmas.
  • 9 & 10 December: ‘A Sustainable Christmas' - Share some handy hints with us for saving money and looking after the environment this Christmas.
  • 16 December: ‘Christmas Traditions Trail' – An opportunity to find out more about Welsh Christmases.
  • 29 December: ‘Calennig, the Welsh New Year' – Make some traditional Calennig gifts and visit some of the museum's houses to sing for presents.


Date: 5 December 2006
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