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Latitude: 51.7807 / 51°46'50"N
Longitude: -4.1763 / 4°10'34"W
OS Eastings: 249970
OS Northings: 211356
OS Grid: SN499113
Mapcode National: GBR DM.Z4R2
Mapcode Global: VH3LY.KHJR
Entry Name: Caersalem Independent Chapel
Listing Date: 5 February 1999
Last Amended: 5 February 1999
Source ID: 21293
Building Class: Religious, Ritual and Funerary
Location: 300 m north-west of Pontyberem bridge, to the west of Heol y Felin. Reached through a concrete-walled carpark, to the rear of which the limestone gate piers, wrought-iron gates and over-arch of the or
Locality: Pontyberem Village
Built-Up Area: Pontyberem
Traditional County: Carmarthenshire
Caersalem was a daughter chapel of Capel Seion, Drefach, in Gorslas Community. The chapel was built during the pastorate of the Rev. J Evans in 1847, but completely rebuilt under his successor the Rev. W E Evans in 1884. Soon after the rebuilding a vestry was added at the left (south-west) side.
The chapel front is in rock-faced masonry in local sandstone with conspicuous contrasting dressings in local grey limestone, in a style freely based on the Classical. The front elevation of the chapel is pedimented with a plain twice-corbelled string-course as a cornice, but the elevation is more conspicuously articulated into three bays by pilasters; the two inner pilasters penetrate the pediment to reach the roof verge. The pilasters draw the eye by their ladder-like effect caused by the meeting of the limestone outbands; the raking cornices are similarly detailed. At the apex there is a tall stone finial. The façade of the vestry at left is constructed in similar materials, its design imitating the chapel more simply and on a smaller scale. Rendered at side and rear; slate roof with tile ridge; timber barge-boards.
The doors and windows are all outlined in limestone. Triple window over the entrance doors with bracketted sills and round arch heads; roundel in centre of pediment. Tall symmetrical side windows also with bracketted sills and round heads. Window detail renewed. Limestone plinth and terrazzo steps to doors. Twin central doors with round arches on corner colonnettes; caps lightly carved with floral decoration. Double two-panel doors with prominent mouldings: each has a curved top rail and a fanlight with decorative circle above.
The side masonry of the chapel is in rubble with pecked limestone window dressings. Windows in two storeys: the original timber mullioned windows survive to right elevation. The lower storey of windows in the original west elevation, covered by the vestry, has rebuilt segmentally arched heads and replaced modern frames. The side of the vestry is rendered, and has four-pane sash windows. At the rear of the vestry are later utility extensions, possibly c. 1950.
The organ chamber is carried out to the rear of the chapel at high level over the graveyard, some graves remaining beneath it; the outer edge is supported on concrete piers.
A good interior of 1884, minimally altered to accommodate the organ of 1911 and some later high-quality joinery in the pulpit area. Entered by a symmetrical anteroom with a terrazzo floor. The window from the anteroom to the interior is glazed in lozenge panes in etched glass; margin panes in coloured patterned glass. Unequal double doors (2 and 4 panels) in pine, with brass handles, to main interior. Four-panel pine doors on stairs landings. Handrails on wall brackets.
The gallery is on three sides but linked to a slightly lower organ-loft behind the pulpit. It is carried on seven tapering and fluted cast-iron columns with floral caps. Its front is in broad panels with an iron grille above. Central clock. Curved corners to the gallery front and seating. In the gallery there are three rows of seats at the sides and six at the rear.
The pulpit and the sedd fawr are both in oak, in a bold classical detailing style; probably mid-C20 but with some Art-Nouveau features. The sedd fawr is raised two steps. Panelled back with curved corners. The pulpit has an octagonal front boldly bracketted out; the upper stage has panels framed with egg-and dart enriched mouldings, separated by fluted Ionic colonettes. Staircases and pulpit flanks with square newels and balusters. The newels have sunk faces with an oval decorative feature near the top; leaf features between balusters at top level.
The main interior seating is in four blocks, with a straight-line centre division. Two passageways. The outer seating is angled or turned to face the pulpit. Simply-carved ends with painted numbers. The wall plaster is scored with lines to imitate masonry joints.
The organ is by Norman and Beard, 1911. It is in a recess with a moulded and keyed elliptical arch carried on pilasters with Ionic caps.
The main area of the ceiling is divided into lozenges by large ribs, from the main intersections of which there are pendant metalwork light fittings. Large decorative centre feature. The perimeter of the ceiling is diagonally boarded, with fretwork-faced ventilators at the corners.
The vestry is entered by a six-panel semi-glazed side door in the chapel, but also has a separate entrance, with an internal porch in pine. The interior is plain; panelled dado on all sides except on the wall shared with the chapel. Schoolroom benches. There is a small vestry pulpit also in pine, with an octagonal front between newels; fretwork panels above and boarded panels below. At the rear of the vestry there are annexes with a kitchen, boiler room and toilets.
Listed as a large village chapel retaining a fine interior and joinery of a high order.
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