Inside Gedeon Chapel Dinas Cross

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Coflein tells us that Gideon Independent Chapel was built in 1830, restored in 1930 and again in 1960. The present chapel…. is built in the Vernacular style with a long-wall entry plan. The facade dates from 1830 with improvements made in 1843. Gideon is now Grade 2 Listed.

I love Gedeon chapel and from this minister’s eye view we see the congregation, as in a classroom, ready to learn new things, to be inspired by Christian ideals of social justice and to be motivated to lead a better P1010887life. The text above the clock exhorts members to make good use of their time. The floor is slightly raked so that the people at the back can see to the front and the only advantage given to the minister is height. There’s no decoration or religious furnishings to separate the person at the front from the rest of us. Should anyone arrive late for the service they enter the chapel from one of the doors on either side of the pulpit and have to brave the welcoming eyes of the many rather than the disapproving gaze of the teacher at the front.

Anyone choosing to sit in the gallery could slip up the side stairs,  avoid passing the collection box and (I believe)  not be expected to offer a donation. This is a modest, friendly and welcoming interior designed to serve its congregation.

P1010923The chapel’s virtues are not so easily discerned from the road. You have to look up to see Gedeon  as you leave Dinas for Newport – it’s easy to miss. Although Gedeon sits high above the road, it’s not got much to dominate and all that is visible as you go past are the vestry and other bits that have been added on since 1830. But once over the steps or through the blacksmith’s gate and round the sharp end of the building

you get to the long wall entrance that, according to Coflein, defines the building’s style as vernacular.

P1010895When Gedeon was built some chapels were already being altered to re-position the entrance in the gable end; the majority of those built after the middle of the century were organised that way. Did this old fashioned orientation seem too lowly, too barn-like, inspite of the beautiful large windows that allow the light to stream in?*

The two doors in this long facade offer the worshippers the possibility of having a favourite entrance. Eirian Edwards, a long standing chapel member who also holds the key and was kind enough to show me round, remembered that my father and aunts used the left hand door. I was touched that she remembered them.

*Kathryn Wilkinson’s PhD thesis on ‘The Vernacular Origin of Welsh Nonconformist Chapels’ can be found here

P1010913Cadw has twice promised (but not yet delivered) a grant to repair the windows.

About bookvolunteer

I'm passionate about books, about Oxfam and about making the world a better place. When I'm not filling the shelves in Oxfam Wilmslow, I might be found reading the books I've bought in the beautiful surroundings of North Pembrokeshire.
This entry was posted in History, Religion, Welsh language and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Gedeon

  1. cilshafe says:

    Thank you for revealing how impressive is the interior of the chapel with those ranks of box pews and all that polished wood. I also love the applique picture, the lichened gravestones perfectly rendered (although not the anthills!). You didn’t credit it though.

  2. calmgrove says:

    Lovely photos, especially the view of the box pews, like a labyrinth.

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