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Latitude: 52.0018 / 52°0'6"N
Longitude: -3.6921 / 3°41'31"W
OS Eastings: 283940
OS Northings: 235062
OS Grid: SN839350
Mapcode National: GBR Y8.J4TH
Mapcode Global: VH5DY.YYJ8
Entry Name: Cefnarthen Chapel
Listing Date: 25 February 1999
Last Amended: 25 February 1999
Source ID: 21395
Building Class: Religious, Ritual and Funerary
Location: Situated at the end of a lane off a minor road leading from Pentrebach to Babel approximately 1km to the NW.
Traditional County: Carmarthenshire
Independent chapel rebuilt in 1853 for one of the oldest congregations in Wales, one of the branches founded by Jenkin Jones of Llanigon, c1642. Jenkin Jones and members of the congregation were imprisoned at Carmarthen in 1660. The congregation subsequently met in a cave on Craigyrwyddon before the first chapel at Cefnarthen was built c1689. Rees Prydderch was minister through this period to 1699. The congregation at Pentretygwyn was founded from this congregation in 1740, primarily by the Williams family of Cefncoed and Pantycelyn, The congregations split because Cefnarthen became Arminian whereas the other group adhered more strictly to Calvinism. The Arminian congregation at Cefnarthen declined after this, and the chapel is said to have been used by Baptists for a while, before being revived by reunion with the Pentretygwyn cause in the later C18. The 1853 rebuild is unusually completely preserved, showing chapel carpentry still Georgian in form. The pulpit is near identical to one ejected from Pentretygwyn (q.v.) and now in the vestry there.
Chapel, roughcast and rubble stone with slate roof, overhanging at gables, with brackets and cast-iron rainwater goods. Lateral facade to N, roughcast with stucco quoins, two long centre windows, half-length outer gallery lights, all small-paned and arch-headed with intersecting tracery in heads and stone sills. Two doors set slightly out of alignment with gallery-lights with depressed-arched heads, later C19 panelled doors with asymmetrical division, and crescent overlights. Rubble stone E end wall with plaque to Rev Peter Jenkins d1827. Rubble stone rear 2-storey, 2-window range, renewed 16-pane sashes with stone voussoirs and sills. Slate-hung W gable.
W end has large lean-to stable with long-room or vestry over. Rubble stone with S end stone chimney, 3 first floor 12-pane sashes, and ground floor 2 doors to left, and square stable window to right of centre. Stone voussoirs. Small mounting block to right of window. N return is roughcast to match chapel facade, with one 16-pane sash to first floor.
Fine interior with pews raked against back wall in 3 blocks. Simple panelled box-pews with large panels (cream in brown framing). Outer rows of pews continue, down side walls but narrowing, to beneath enclosed gallery stairs. In centre, single bench in front of centre pews, then unusual set fawr and pulpit in subtle play of curves. The great seat area is essentially enclosed by curved-ended panelling (carefully grained dark in light framing) with the pulpit steps following the curve at the left end. Opening in centre, doors each end. Left end door adjoins foot of curving stairs up to pulpit, which have moulded rail with stick balusters to front and boarded curved back. Rail has spiral end with carved rosette. Pulpit itself projects on wine-glass stem (itself a Georgian form) and has panelled front with concave-curved sides, 4 angle turned shafts with pendant finials, and moulded rail. Panelled wood pulpit back, pointed with panelling imitating intersecting tracery. To right of pulpit, a single panelled box pew against wall.
Three-sided gallery on 4 plain cast-iron columns. Gallery front is curved at angles, the curved panels broken forward. Deep frieze and cornice under grained panels. Alternate vertical panels with larger square panels in front and with even larger horizontal panels in sides; moulded top rail. Fine graining, dark panels in light framing. Gallery has steeply raked tiers of open-back benches. Plaster plain ceiling with single rose, six radiating serpentine leaves within a border of guilloche.
Graded II* for the complete survival of a chapel of 1853, showing exceptional late Georgian carpentry features, indicating the long survival of such forms in rural areas.
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