History – Saron Chapel

As the Non Conformist movement swept through Wales there was a wave of religious fervour and a desire to worship outside the rules and language if the Anglican Church. Treoes was no exception and this led to the establishment of Saron Chapel in 1831. 

Saron Chapel is now a Grade II listed building, but its origins were as an old barn possibly in the current vestry. Its principle was Mr W. Griffiths of Llanharan , and its other founding members were: David Jones, a weaver and Benjamin Lewis members at Llanharan; Morgan and Margaret Williams of Ty-Candy, David Owen and Elizabeth Leyshon of Treoes .

Robert Basset, David Jones, David Owen and Lewis Jenkins bought the old building together with the garden next to it from Edward Mordecai for £30.00 on a 999 year lease.

The Independent Welsh Congregational Chapel was built in 1841 for £240.00 and was opened during the quarterly meeting of the union on the 16th and 17th February, during which time half the debt of the chapel had been subscribed. The role of the Chapel became increasingly powerful enhanced by the Great Revival, after which it became necessary to build a gallery. The Gallery was built in 1859 at the cost of £100.00. The service to open the new gallery was held on the 17th and 18th of September. The sum of £66.00 was raised toward the cost of the gallery and the ladies of the congregation undertook the furnishing of the pulpit, stairs and communion table.

Relations between Anglicans and dissenters became less amicable in about 1850. There was a new Bishop in Llandaff effecting a new earnestness amongst his clergy. In 1851 one religious consensus noted:

The Parish for the last 8-10 years is almost wholly given up to dissention.”

The consensus indicated that about 50% of the population attended chapel and about 20% attended the Anglican Church – making a total of 70% of the population practising religious beliefs.

On the 30th March of that year 140 worshippers attended Morning Service, 91 attended in the afternoon and 300 attended in the evening, a remarkable number when it is considered that the entire population of the Parish was just 261 people which included children. (David J Francis).

The patrons of the Anglican Church would be the powerful Gentry and Clergy, major Landowners and Farmers. The Chapel congregation consisted of small farmers, craftsmen, traders and the like. Their labourers and servants would worship with their masters.  This being an undemocratic age, there was no power in numbers and the Anglican Clergy continued to collect their tithes.

Mr Griffith of Llanharan continued his ministry at Treoes for 37 years, until his death. It was then decided that the chapel should have its own minister, and eventually Mr Rees Saron Jones, a student of Brecon College was ordained on14th and 15th October 1868.  It is said he gave his heart and mind to the preaching of the word and his determination to do the work of the Lord.  He succeeded in establishing the cause in the village of Coychurch where Hebron Chapel was built. Mr John Thomas, a member of Saron chapel, donated the freehold land upon which Hebron was built.  

The next recorded minister, Mr Thomas Williams, was ordained in 1874 . Mr Williams gave up the ministry in1878 when elements of dissention appeared which so distressed him.  

Mr Stephen Jones of Brecon Memorial College was ordained at Saron on the 15th June.1881. Unfortunately, in August 1909 he was charged with obtaining money by false pretences from the Great Western Railway Company in his role as overseer for Coychurch lower. This was followed by bankruptcy proceedings. The Rev Jones had a wife and 8 children dependent on him, one of which had been paralysed for many years. He had purchased Waterton Hall and attributed his failure to:

expenses in connection with the purchase and the subsequent failure to re-sell the property and the sickness of his family and himself”.  

The Rev T Gwilym Jones followed as Pastor at Saron.  At this time Saron Chapel was the hub of the community, Eisteddfodau and concerts were held there and in particular during the 1914-1918 war the ladies of the surrounding areas would meet to make comforts for the troops abroad.

The builder of Saron Chapel, John Rees of Waterton died in 1890.

Saron Chapel was again renovated in 1891.

The mounting steps outside Saron Chapel are used by visiting ministers and any of the congregation that ride horseback to Chapel. The horses would be tethered on the ground floor of the vestry.

A further plot of land was purchased in 1908 from Daniel Francis Morgan of Dieppe, France (previously of St Mary Hill) to enable an extension of the burial ground.  

%d bloggers like this: