History of Gwawr Chapel

Gwawr Aberaman (Regent St, Aberaman)
Gwawr Aberaman (Regent St, Aberaman)
The beginning of this cause was indeed very troublous.  In 1846 under the sponsorship of Calfaria chapel, Aberdare and the Most Reverend Dr Price a Sunday School and prayer meetings were started in dwelling houses, with occasional preaching.  Having moved from house to house for a period of time, a room was rented near the ‘King William’ which was larger and more convenient.  It was decided to build a chapel in the year 1848.  A piece of land was secured and a lease drawn up and the building work started at the beginning of June 1849.  A sudden request came from the fraternity at Aberaman to be incorporated into the church.

The request was accepted, they were incorporated into the church by Dr Price (Calfaria Chapel, Aberdare) and Mr Evans, Hirwaun.  The church was accepted into the general assembly at the end of June 1849.  121 members of Calfaria were released to form a church.  David Jones (Dewi Elfed) from Rhymney was called to be shepherd.  This was the beginning of the trouble.  This man turned out to be of bad character; he led the church to great confusion.  He insisted on removing Dr Price and another brother’s name from the lease, and replaced them with his own name and the name of a friend.  Work on building the chapel continued and before it was half finished they moved in to worship.  Things deteriorated until, in 1850, the general assembly expelled the church and its minister because of the latter’s destructive errors.  Despite this, many members stuck with their minister.  Having been rejected by the Baptists, Dewi Elfed tried to turn the chapel in the direction of a religion known as “the latter day saints”.  Through the deceit of changing the lease, he managed to take the chapel away from the denomination and some of the members remained loyal to him.  The chapel was lost to the denomination for almost a year; but to Dr Price and his church’s credit they decided to try and reclaim it.  This was achieved in the Summer Assizes in 1851.  On the 4th November it is said that some two thousand people came to see the chapel being handed back to the Baptists.  Dewi Elfed tried to stop this.  He and one of the “saints of the apostles” barricaded themselves in the chapel.  As the sheriff had no right to force the door it seemed that the saints were likely to keep the chapel, although the law was against them, but Dr Price was not to be defeated.  There was a carpenter close by who opened one of the windows.  Dr Price pushed himself in and was followed by the carpenter and one other.  Dewi Elfed and the false apostle were chased around the chapel until they were cornered in the lobby.  Dr Price grabbed them both by the scruff of the neck and, having opened the door, he walked them both out to the street to the sound of shouts of congratulation from the crowd.  “There you are” said Dr Price “a prime example of ‘exorcising devils’ in the 19th century”.  And that is how the battle ended.

David Bevan Jones – First Minister Gwawr Chapel | Click here to view info
History of Gwawr

The chapel reopened on the following Sunday, November 9th 1851.  The church was incorporated once again in 1852 and William Jones was ordained as its minister.  He was a good brother and an assistant preacher at Calfaria.  The church was once again accepted to the General Assembly in 1853.  The Rev William Jones did not stay long however.  He was followed by the Rev D. Evans, Llaneurwg who was also only there for a short time.  Then a call was sent to the Rev T Nicholas, Pembrey who was established on the 26th December 1858.  He served the church faithfully until he was called home on the 9th November 1865.  Causes were started in Abercwmboi (1860), and Seion, Cwmaman (1861) during his ministry.

The Grave of Rev T Nicholas
The Grave of Rev T Nicholas
On April 30th 1866 the Rev Morgan Phillips from Tabor, Brynmawr was established as minister.  During his ministry this vast present chapel was built.  He gave up his ministry of the church on the 6th September 1874.  He died soon after and was buried in Aberdare Public Cemetery.  On August 15th the Rev Thomas Davies of Llangynidr was established as minister here.  This was the happiest time in the church’s history.  He was well respected and was a great influence for 33 years.  He did great work and the church grew under his ministry.  He was Secretary of the East Glamorgan General Assembly for 25 years.  He died on 17th January 1908.

Death of the Rev. T. Davies Gwawr, Aberaman 23/01/1908

It was sad to hear that Rev T. Davies had passed away, and particularly by the Welsh Baptists, I have some to understand that the Rev. Thomas Davies, pastor Gwawr, Aberaman, was asleep in death, which took place Thursday night. He had been in a weak state of his health for some time, but lately it seemed as if he improves, and the Sunday before his death he preached as usual in the chapel, and Tuesday, January 14th, he serves at the funeral of one of its members. It seems to have a heavy cold, which caused inflammation of the lung wrestling in it.  What can be said about him today as was said of Lazarus, “There he is asleep,” but dear Jesus came to rouse him.

He leaves a widow and children to grieve after him, and felt great longing after him by the church and all over the neighbourhood as a whole, for he was a respectable man in the area.

He was a very famous man in the denomination as a preacher, controversialist, writer, and organizer. He did considerable writings under the pseudonym ‘Didymus’ has frequently in some of the publications of the denomination. A native of Llantood, Pembrokeshire, he was, and he was born in 1845, so he was 62 years old. He was well educated in their youths, and was for some years a schoolmaster Blaenffos. Being a man of considerable talent, encouraged him to go into the ministry, forty years ago, he was ordained pastor Llangynidr, Breconshire, where is has been very successful for nine years.

In 1875, the church received a call from Dawn to become the successor to the late Rev. Morgan Phillips, wherein participants, and the church as a sign of respect towards him, presented him for s few years ago and testimonial value close to hundred pounds.

He was an excellent preacher, and he found himself entirely to public life yo the place, and that was what accounted for his popularity in the area. He was secretary of the Baptist Union of East Glamorgan for many years, and this year, he was chairman of Aberdare District Baptist. He was also a writer for years the world’s largest Baptist Union Caethgymunol, and at the end of its service, and presented him with a valuable testimonial.

The next minister of the church was the Rev W.T. Francis, Aberdare who was established in November 1909.  Within four years he moved to minister at Calfaria church Llanelli.  Within less than two years the church called on the present minister the Rev T Lloyd Rees who started his work on 21st February 1915.  The church is enjoying a very pleasant attitude at present.  The number of members at present is 226.

Rev D.G. Harries

The Rev D.G. Harries, Gwawr we regret to note the passing away on Tuesday evening at his home 19 Brynheulog Terrace, Aberaman. Mr Harries had not enjoyed good health for some months but few thought the end was so near. A native of Llanelli and 55 years of ages the rev gentleman was prepared for the ministry at Carmarthen and Bangor Colleges.

His first pastorates were at churches in Anglesey and Cwmdu Carmarthen.  Mr Harries had just completed 21 years as minister of Gwawr, where he was regarded as an excellent pastor and a forceful preacher. He was quite a favourite with Aberaman Old Age Pensioners and recently he conducted a service for them in his church, when they paraded on strong numbers.

Mr Harries leaves a widow and one daughter, Miss Gwyneth Harries B.A., who is on the teaching staff of Penarth Secondary School.

Aberaman musicians that were members of Gwawr

George Davies

He was better known as a schoolmaster, than musician though his abilities in the latter direction were considerable. He kept a school at the Long Room of the Griffin Inn (where Mr Evan Owen, J.P., Cardiff, was taught) and subsequently at Gwawr Vestry. He acted for some years as precentor at Gwawr Welsh Baptist Church during the ministry of the Rev. Mr Phillips, but afterwards removed to keep a school in Carmarthenshire. His father also “pitched” the singing at Gwawr for a number of years before him.

Isaac Morgan

Isaac Morgan was not a man of brilliant personal attainments, but he deserves a place in our list of worthies owing to his tutorship of several of the younger musicians of Aberaman. He frequented Gwawr Welsh Baptist Church, and became very popular with his numerous pupils.

John Price (1840-Aug 10, 1885)

The native of Aberaman who did probably more than anyone else for the cause of religious and sacred music was Mr John Price, precentor and conductor of the congregational choir at Gwawr Welsh Baptist Church Aberaman.  Though not a great conductor at Eisteddfodau, he won notable victories at Hirwaun, Cwmaman, and Trecynon. At the latter place he only picked up the choir on the day of competition, and won outright. His forte however was as a composer of sacred music. His M.S.S., which are still in a clean condition, betoken the great pains he took in writing his copies neatly He had written harmonium and piano accompaniments for the tunes; “Sunny Land,” “Ezra,” “Dolycoed,” and the Welsh air, “Men of Harlech”. His book of notes dated Jan 29 1879; show that he made intelligent preparation when acting in the capacity of adjudicator, or leader of the Cymanfa Ganu. His chief compositions are Solo and Chorus, “Da was, da a ffyddlon”; duet, “Gwyn ei fyd u gwr” (1878); trio (A., T.B.), “The Ransom of the Lord”; and his masterpiece viz., the anthem, “Dyddiau dyn sydd fel glaswelltyn.” He was secretary of the Aberdare Baptists Gymanfa for many years, and successful memorial verses of him were composed by “Morfab” at Gwawr Eisteddfod, 1886.

Death and burial of John Price, Aberaman

When I read the last issue of the “Darian”, for he was well worthy of this. For one thing, he was a regular recipient of “Darian”, and in its time has sent several pieces of poetry to columns since then, not as a poet was John Price has excelled in knowledge but as a musician. He was a writer, and has been winning on some pamphlets, but excelled as a musician. He wrote several in a congregational hymns, with splendid passages and others. He won some of the tunes, and it is a shame that he was not sometimes daylight some shape or form. He has not been able to this because years of failure and disease. He has a shining and incorruptible character, and everyone knew and spoke highly of him. There has been a large contributor to others of its information, and a number of them were occupied at much of his image. As a religious whose life seamlessly, and scriptures of the able. He was a member at Gwawr, the Baptist church, for a boy, and a deacon of old years, and is one of the deepest in the post.

Slept in silence Monday night, the 10th of this month, at age 45. He was buried in the cemetery  the following its recognition by the crowd, and in the absence of his pastor, officiating on the occasion by D. Davies, formerly of Abercwmboi. Let not a widow and two children to mourn as those without hope, but let them live in such a way as to ensure its meeting in a better world than this one.

Henry James

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