The Parish Churches and Chapels in the Glasbury Area
This article was prepared by M. A. V. Gill in 2005 for the "Glasbury Book" (unpublished), and
was first published with annotations in Brycheiniog Vol XVIII 2012 . The excellent artwork is also by the same local author


This chapter will be dealing with local churches and chapels principally as buildings; but a church or chapel is more than an empty shell – it is a congregation of people who gather together in common worship, whether in prayer, praise and thanksgiving or in listening to the Word of God preached from the pulpit. At the beginning of the twenty-first century throughout the country many are in decline with waning numbers and ageing congregations. A hundred years ago the situation was very different: churches and chapels were all well attended, and each played an important role in the life of its community. J.W. Hobbs, reminiscing of his years as station booking clerk at Three Cocks (1902-1905), wrote that there were good congregations at St. Peter’s church, “chiefly the gentry, retired people, visitors at the Hotel, and some of the large farmers. Most of the working classes were chapel, except those employed at Gwernyfed or Tregoed. The strongest chapel was the Baptist at Glasbury, which was always full on Sunday nights, and often packed. Baptisms used to take place about once a year in the River Wye, which runs alongside the chapel. The chapel was the chief source of social entertainment. During the winter months was held what was called a Christian Union. The two Glasbury chapels and Felindre combined and held two entertainments in each chapel every winter. These always had to be arranged for the week of the full moon, so as to have moonlight on the way home. Our Three Cocks choir and band used to attend frequently. The chapel anniversaries were great events, both children and adults would take part and there were recitations and dialogues, solos, duets and quartettes. There were also frequent tea parties, lectures, Christian Endeavour and Prayer meetings, and concerts, but only on rare occasions were outside artistes engaged; we made our own amusements. Sometimes we would go farther afield, to Penrhoel or Maesyronen chapels or All Saints church, always on foot. We were not afraid of walking in those days;”


Capel-y-ffin means the chapel of the boundary - and boundaries tend to be subject to contention. In 1708 there was a lengthy dispute in the ecclesiastical court, when the vicar of Llanigon refused to carry out his duties as there was no salary for the work, despite the fact that for some ten or twelve years previously he or his curate had regularly officiated there. The churchwardens and sidesmen reported with a petition from the parishioners that “ there are neither morning nor evening prayers in ye sd. Chapell nor the sacrament administered there according to ye custome, and ye sick are not visited”. Parishioners also complained that their children had not been baptized for “several weekes or months after their birth and until they dyed”, while “severall dead bodies of persons dyeing within the said hamlett” had remained unburied for several days after notice had been given to the vicar or his curate, until relatives were forced to send for ministers of other parishes to come and baptize their children and bury their dead. Under examination, some witnesses declared the chapel to be in the parish of Glasbury and others in Llanigon, but all agreed that it was a chapel-of-ease to the latter. Thereupon the Bishop’s Court decreed that Rev.Thomas Lewis or his curate should officiate there. However, in Edward Lhwyd’s survey in the 1690s, Capel-y-ffin was included in the parish of Glasbury, and it was to Glasbury that the inhabitants of the hamlet paid their tithes.

The ancient yew trees in the churchyard are far older than the present building. The original medieval church was renovated in the latter part of the eighteenth century, inspired perhaps by the newly erected Baptist chapel nearby. Inside its simple rectangular hall, the font is medieval, but much of the other furniture and fittings (the pulpit, gallery, altar rail and benches) dates from the 1780s. A south porch was added in 1817. The pyramidal bellcote houses two bells: the smaller probably cast by Evan Evans of Chepstow is inscribed “GLORY TO GOD SEPT: THE 9 1716”; the larger, recast in 1895 by Llewellins & James of Bristol, originally bore the inscription “AVE REGINA CELORVM”. The restoration of the chapel in 1991 is commemorated in the east window. With the mountain ridge and sky providing a backdrop to the lettering, the clear glass is fittingly engraved with the words: “I will lift mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help”.

Source : -- "A Chapter on the Churches and Chapels in the Parish of Glasbury " by M.A.V. Gill