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Visiting the Former Primitive Methodist Chapel, Hay-on-Wye, Wales: With Neo-Gothic Elements, Dating From c. 1865

Updated on October 19, 2020
Flag of Wales
Flag of Wales | Source
Bethesda Evangelical Church, Oxford Road. Stone carved letters across the building spell out, Primitive Methodist Chapel, A.D. 1865
Bethesda Evangelical Church, Oxford Road. Stone carved letters across the building spell out, Primitive Methodist Chapel, A.D. 1865 | Source

A building with a history

This chapel building is in Wales — the land of chapels — but only just. The border with England is actually within walking distance of this structure in Hay-on-Wye (Welsh: Y Gelli), Powys.

Executed in red brick, with stone edging, the building evidences Neo-Gothic features, particularly in the pointed window and door arching. The pointed turret over the main door at the Oxford Road elevation seems to be more by way of a pinnacle than a spire (pinnacles being another common Neo-Gothic style element.)

Another conspicuous feature is a circular window above the main entrance, which resembles a somewhat simplified rose window, if not classified as one in the truest sense.

The building dates from circa 1865; it opened as a Primitive Methodist Chapel. Methodists had a presence in the district since the 18th century; indeed, nearby Cusop, over the border in England, the martyrdom of a Methodist preacher William Seward in 1740 is recorded. Today the building is owned and used by a congregation known as Bethesda Evangelical Church.

Methodism in England and Wales has in some ways taken different historical turns, organizationally. But it is known that Primitive Methodists laid stress on strong and forthright Scripture-based preaching; and this emphasis may probably be said to continue at this building, although its formal link with Methodism ceased in the 1950s.

January 23, 2018


(1) See also:

Also worth seeing

In Hay-on-Wye itself — known as a book town for the profusion of bookstores — other noted buildings include a ruined castle and a 19th century clocktower.

Cusop (distance: 0.5 kilometres), Herefordshire; the churchyard of St. Mary's Parish Church has some magnificent old trees, including yew; and the gravesite of Methodist preacher William Seward, killed in 1740; the building itself, which contains some Norman elements, was restored in the 19th century.


How to get there: United Airlines flies to London Heathrow Airport , from where car rental is available. London Heathrow is approximately 247 kilometres from Hay-on-Wye. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.


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