St Maelog’s Church, Llandyfaelog. near Kidwelly
This church is mainly mediaeval. Its churchyard contains the grave of Methodist leader Peter Williams (see below).
The chancel is the church’s earliest standing part, followed by the 14th-century arch to the nave. The low west porch is from the following century. The church was restored and altered in the 1860s. The stained glass in the east window is by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, who was an influential painter and designer in the late 19th century.
This site is one of several on our tour telling the story of the 18th-century Carmarthenshire Enlightenment. Wales became one of the most literate nations in Europe, thanks to the work of Rev Griffith Jones of Llanddowror, He was a staunch Anglican but is nonetheless credited as the father of Methodism in Wales since he inspired many of its early leaders, including Rev Peter Williams (1723-1796).
Denied ordination in the Church of England because of his ‘enthusiasm’ when preaching, Peter joined the Methodists in 1747 and soon became prominent. He married in 1748 and lived at various properties in the Llandyfaelog area. He travelled extensively, preaching the Gospel throughout Wales. He was often being physically attacked, including in Cydweli (Kidwelly), where he could have come to considerable harm but for the intervention of his wife Mary.
Peter’s grave (pictured) is covered by a raised slate slab inscribed with a tribute to him (see the map below for its location). He is mainly remembered today for his mammoth task of publishing the Bible in a format that met Wales’ need. By adding commentaries to every chapter of every book in the Bible, Peter circumvented the publishing laws of the time so that his Bible could be printed cheaply enough for ordinary people to purchase.
By the beginning of the 20th century a “Beibl Peter Williams” could be found in almost every household, church and chapel in Wales. However, one commentary he made on John 1:1 caused a rift between him and the other leaders of the Methodists. He was excommunicated from their society (accused of Sabellianism) and despite appeals by him and supporters, he died unforgiven.
Inside the church there’s a stone tablet to him (pictured) on the north wall that was unveiled in 1923 by A H Green, Bishop of Monmouth and a direct descendant of Peter. A memorial oak display cabinet contains an original 1770 “Beibl Peter Williams”.
With thanks to Peter Stopp, of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society
Postcode: SA17 5PP View Location Map