Llanwenarth Baptist Church, Govilon

button-theme-canalLlanwenarth Baptist Church, Govilon

govilon_llanwenarth_chapel_1900Here the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal runs past one of Wales’ oldest chapels. Llanwenarth Baptist Church was built in 1695 and later enlarged. The wall facing the canal is the front of the building. It’s thought that the rear wall incorporates part of the original chapel. The photo shows the chapel c.1900.

Baptism came to the area in 1652. The Parliamentarians had ousted the monarchy in the Civil War and encouraged the formation of new congregations outside the established Church of England.

In the 1690s the Abergavenny Baptists obtained a lease on land at Govilon where they built a meeting house. In 1700 it was the venue for the first meeting of the Baptist Association for Wales since the monarchy’s restoration in 1660.

The building was made about twice as large in the 18th century as more people joined the congregation. The surviving interior largely dates from this time.

The canal, which opened in 1805, sliced across the land in front of the chapel. Access from the south was maintained via a gateway in the boundary wall of the chapel yard, alongside what was then the towpath.

The chapel was further improved in the 19th century, when the current window apertures were created. In August 1866, ministers from across Wales came here to form the “Baptist Union of Wales and Monmouthshire”, representing hundreds of congregations.

Station Road bridge, further west along the canal, has a curved eastern wall, created c.1815 when the towpath was moved to the south bank to accommodate the new Govilon wharf. The curve of the bridge enabled horses to continue along the canal without being detached from their tow ropes as they switched sides.

Station Road got its name after 1862, when Govilon railway station opened. The railway closed in 1958 but the station building survives as a house, alongside the cycle and foot path.

The canal’s navigable section is looked after by the charity Glandwr Cymru the Canal & River Trust in Wales.

With thanks to Frances Baines

Postcode: NP7 7ED    View Location Map

Website of Llanwenarth Baptist Church – service times, detailed history and more

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