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Chapel Cilfowyr

Plaque from foyer

Main floor

View from rear of balcony

Beautiful woodwork throughout

Well over 500 seats in total

At the top of the cemetery is where I watched the rainbow

This historical background is one of two similar tiles affixed to the ceiling with a larger one in the center:
A Brief History of Cilfowyr Chapel, by William Bowen

  • The Welsh Particular Baptists started at Rhydwilym on the borders between Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire in 1668
  • It is noted that two women namely Lettice Morgan and Margaret Nicholas, her neighbour, were members at its induction
  • Lettice Morgan (nee Mortimer) was the wife of Edward Morgan of Cilfowyr, a farmer of high standing in the parish of Manordeifi
  • It is believed that Edward Morgan had four sons and a daughter prior to marring Lettice Mortimer, they had come from England
  • The father and mother and their son James, are believed to have started holding services at their home. James went back to England as a Solicitor. However he gave up Law and returned to Cilfowyr. (Farm)
  • Edward Morgan undoubtedly was a religious man but as he did not believe in "The Laying of Hands" he was not allowed to partake of the communion with the Particular Baptist
  • Sometime in 1691 one of the members of the "Independants" by the name of John Phillips, Cilcam. Eglwyswen. Pembrokeshire. (About 15 miles from Cilfowyr) felt that he wished to be baptized in faith according to the New Testament, he expressed his feelings to other members and agreed to a meeting of elders at Castellmalgwyn, near Llechryd. As he did not wish to be overwhelmed by their elders, he asked the minister of Rhydwilym to accompany him. After a long debate they failed to change his mind. But persuaded him to agree to another open-air meeting at a place called Penylan, near to his home on the mountainside. One Minister to preach on the baptism of children, the other on the baptism of believers. On the stipulated day the minister preaching on the baptism of children went on for so long that the audience became tired and it was decided to hold another meeting the following month to hear the minister on the baptism of believers
  • As this debate was the talks of the whole area little wonder that a very large audience had gathered
  • In consequence to all this John Phillips and many others were baptised on 18th of April 1692, and within two years there were 68 members. Meeting we believe at Cilcam and Cilfowyr
  • A call was extended to Samuel John the first Minister at Cilfowyr in 1704. It read. "We the church of Christ in Cilcam etc., chose our brother Samuel John to be our pastor and overseer, to teach and administer ordinances among us, since he is eager and we are ready according to our ability to help him; so we place our hands to the confession, the agreement and the choice" 1704
  • The first chapel was built on land given to the chapel by James Morgan in 1718 and was called Ty Gwyn. (White House). And also free liberty to make or cause to be made in the said Chapel close below the said well or spring of water a Convenient Baptizing place as they or any of them shall think fit, with the water from the said well or spring to run thereunto sufficient for the Baptizing of such Protestant Dissenters as shall desire and as the said congregation shall think fit to be Baptized upon profession of their Faith according to the ordinance of Baptism of Believers as aforesaid. (I have been able to make a copy of this old deed). The gift being for 1000 years or "as long as water shall flow in the river Tivy"
  • Second Chapel built in 1795. present Chapel in 1877
  • During the following years Cilfowyr was instrumental in forming new branches namely Blaenwaun. Penparc. Trefdraeth (Newport Pembs) Blaenffos & Fronddeiniol
  • It also was prominent in spreading Paticular Baptists to North Wales. Samuel Jones, Cilfowyr was there in 1710 and many others from Cilfowyr followed
  • It is also of interest that in 1701 a number of the Rhydwylym members sailed for America in the ship "William and Mary" from Milford. Before going they had gathered into a church under their minister, Thomas Griffiths. After they landed they worshiped in Pennepek with the old followers of Hugh Evans, but eventually separated not as one would suppose over points of Calvinist or Arminian doctrine but over the validity of imposition of hands-- an ordinance which the Particular Baptists of Wales had originally adopted from the General Baptists. The Rhydwylym bretheren set up a new home on the banks of the Delaware river in the Welsh Tract. Four from Cilfowyr followed them in 1709, another eight from Rhydwylym in 1710 together with twelve from Cilfowyr, eight from Glandwr, seven from Llangennech and two from Llanwenarth. Eight were released from Swansea in 1710 including the minister Hugh Davies, a member originally of Rhydwylym
  • John Phillips, also emigrated, but there does not seem to be a record of which year or where to in America
  • It is noted in a Book written by David Jones of Carmarthen in 1899 that Phillip Morgan was married at Cilfowyr on the 23rd of February 1689 by Thomas David Rees. Although this seam's to be before the adoption of the chapel at Cilfowyr
  • In 1932 a dispute arose as to the right of water to the Baptistery as the farmer had diverted the water away from it's original course, unfortunately the dispute ended in Court with the Chapel retaining the right to the water for the Baptistery
  • As the chapel had arranged for baptism to be conducted in July 1932, arrangements were made to hire a lorry and churns from the milk factory at Newcastle Emlyn, the churns filled at Cenarth falls and taken to Cilfowyr on the previous Saturday afternoon in readiness for the Sunday, The normal practise being to baptise first and then go into the chapel for its service and communion, however when the members arrived the baptistery was empty. And it was decided that the baptism would have to be carried out on another occasion, however during the service there was a tremendous thunderstorm and before the service ended one of the members went out to see how much water there was in the baptistery, to his amazement it was full to the very top, a hand note was passed to the minister and he announced that after all they would be able to fulfil the wishes of the young people that had promised to be baptised into the work of the Lord. And the congregation all went out to be witnesses to the baptism
  • It transpired that the rain had only fallen on a very small area around the Chapel with Llechryd and Newchapel in the other direction had not witnessed any rain
  • Although the chapel "won" the right to the uninterrupted use of the water from the well it is pleasing to note that last year (2001) Mrs Jones of Cilfowyr farm gave the area around the baptistery and also the road leading down to the chapel free to the members before the farm was sold
  • There is a Book written by T.M.Basset. Title of: - The Welsh Baptists, 1977, available in English at the Library in Carmarthen. Which includes some information on the contribution of "Cilfowyr" to the spreading of the Lord's work and the mission to North Wales
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