Builth Wells (1805-1828)

1805 Llanidloes. ‘In 1799, when William Hicks and John Hughes were appointed to the Welshpool Circuit, Llanidloes was taken on the plan, more carefully attended to, and the work greatly prospered. Many good families identified themselves with the Society - men of influence and position in the town, such as D. Davies, the currier; Price Wilson, saddler; E. Lewis, grocer; R. Rees, and others. In 1800 a site was secured upon which to build a chapel from Mr Edward Glynn of Shrewsbury, who also left in his will £150 in order to reduce the debt. The Society was continued as a portion of the Welshpool Circuit up to the year 1807 when it became the head of a new Circuit. In the spring of 1805 John Hughes, who was that year stationed at Liverpool Welsh Circuit, visited Llanidloes and other places on his way to Brecon, reporting a great revival of religion, which through the instrumentality of the ministers, Mr Gartrell and Hugh Ransom, and the local preachers of the Welshpool Circuit, had spread all over the country from Llanidloes to Builth. ‘The revival,’ says Mr Hughes, ‘was different to those he had seen in North Wales, there being no noise or sensationalism in connection with it.’’ [David Young, The Origin and History of Methodism in Wales and the Borders, London, 1893, pp.290-291]

‘In the latter end of April [1805?] I took a Tour of the South which proved a very delightful one.

I spent some days at Llanidloes very comfortably & profitably & on my way to Brecon preached at St. Harmons Rhayader & Newbridge & promised to preach at Builth on my return. The revival which had taken place in the Country between Llanidloes & Builth was very considerable & bore every mark of a genuine work of God, without that noise & wildness which marked the revival in the North in some places. Mr Gartrell & Radford [Rev. James Gartrell and Rev. William Radford, who were stationed on the Welshpool Circuit 1804-5] together with the local Preachers in the W. Pool Circuit were Instruments in this blessed work which continues to spread, rapidly. The preaching was principally in English. Poor dark, barren Radnorshire, thy day of visitation is also come! But alas while the work is extending in this quarter, the Sun is gone back many degrees in the neighbourhood of W. Pool & Beriew which ten years ago were so flourishing!’ [‘The Journal of the Rev. John Hughes’, Bathafarn, xi. (1956), p.47, original of the journal is NLW 3501B] Extract of a Letter from the Rev. D. Peter, Theological Tutor of the Academy at Carmarthen, to the Rev. Caleb Morris, London. My Dear Sir,—It affords me the greatest pleasure, that I have it in my power to communicate to you, for the information of our religious friends in England, and other parts of the world, a brief account of the progress of the Redeemer’s kingdom in the Principality of Wales, and especially of the unusual revivals with which many of the Welsh churches have been favoured of late.

Few, perhaps, beyond the confines of the Principality are aware of the progress which the Gospel has made among all denominations of Christians in this part of Great Britain for the last fifty years. We have experienced an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in some degree at various times, and we must say that the hand of the Lord is still stretched out in the salvation of many amongst us.

The number of ministers and chapels in the Principality is now double what it was half a century back and the number of professing Christians of all denominations has increased more than three-fold during that period. Indeed I could name some churches among the Independents that have increased eight, ten, and twelve-fold in the number of members within the last thirty-five years. For you well know that some years back, it was not an unusual thing for many of our churches to receive ten, twenty, or thirty members to communion at a time and that for several successive months.

Fourteen years ago, when I was publishing my History of Religion in Wales, I found, from authentic documents, that there were then in the Principality 255 Independent Churches; 126 Baptist Churches; 343 Calvinistic Methodist Societies, and 205 Wesleyan Methodist Societies. The number of churches and societies at present is much greater.

Having given you some account of the state of religion in Wales, I now proceed to give you a particular account of the rise and progress of the great revival with which we have been blessed in South Wales for the last fifteen months. For some months previous to the revival, the greatest attention was paid to Sunday-schools throughout the country; religious meetings were more than usually numerous; the style of preaching more pointedly impressive; church discipline better attended to, and a greater degree of brotherly love prevailed in the churches.

To inform you of what I myself have witnessed, will be sufficient to show how the people are generally affected at those religious meetings where the revivals prevail. . . . . I have seen, on these occasions, some with bended knees, folded hands, and uplifted eyes, engaged in earnest prayer; others prostrated on the ground, agonizing under a sense of guilt; others praising God for the salvation of the Gospel. . . . . Much, perhaps, of what we see and hear at those religious meetings where the revivals prevail, may be the effect of enthusiasm; yet when we consider the moral change that is so visible in the temper and conduct of those who were before notoriously wicked and the religious awe which pervades all ranks in the towns, villages, and neighbourhoods where the revivals appear, we are compelled to acknowledge that the hand of the Lord is present, and that these revivals in South Wales are the effect of the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit.

The present revival in South Wales commenced among the Calvinistic Methodists at the village of Caio, in the county of Carmarthen, about the latter end of the year 1827, and was for some time confined to that religious body. Their meetings were blessed with an unusual degree of religious feeling; and on one occasion, a few individuals were so much affected that they cried out for mercy. They were joined by some religious characters, who were then convinced that their piety had been at too low an ebb, and thus the feeling became general in the neighbourhood. The most remarkable conversion, before the revival became general at that place, was that of a young man of the most abandoned character. . . . . While the minister was speaking of the sufferings of Christ, the perfection of his atonement, and his capability to save the chief of sinners, the reprobate servant was pierced to the heart and cried out in the most affecting manner for pardoning mercy and renewing grace.

In a little time after, the good work became more general until at length all denominations in the neighbourhood caught the flame. The worst of characters were conquered, and scoffers ceased to scoff. Methodists, Baptists, and Independents felt the heavenly flame. The revivals did not stop in that part of the country but soon appeared in a line from Cilycwm to Llanwrtyd, and even as far as Builth. Llandovery, Llandeilo, and many other places were visited in a similar manner. There were also great revivals in Glamorganshire, especially at Cwmllynfell, Neath, Morriston, Mynyddbach and Swansea. Mr Evans, of Mynyddbach, in December last, received above 200 persons to communion. During the last two months above 600 have been admitted to the fellowship of the Independent church at Morriston, including those on probation. The moral change which has already taken place in the neighbourhood of Swansea and Morriston is truly great. As a friend of mine was returning one evening, about a month back, from Llansamlet to Swansea, he could hear nothing on the road but singing of hymns and repeating portions of Scripture, even by those persons whom he had seen a few Sunday evenings before dancing and rioting. Instead of quarrelling and fighting as usual, they now return from their work in peace and harmony, congratulating each other on the great things which the Lord hath done for them.

I am not in possession of a correct account of the numbers added to the Baptist and Calvinistic Methodist churches; but you may depend on the correctness of the following list of additions made to the following Independent churches since the commencement of the revival: Llandovery . . . . . 160 Hermon . . . . . . 110

Gwynfe . . . . . . . 190 Llangadog. . . . 64

Sardis and Mydd- Bethlehem . . . . 60

fai . . . . . . . . . 125 Abergorlech . . . . 26

Bethel, and two Llandeilo . . . . . . 84

others . . . . . . 146 Siloam . . . . . . . 80

Beulah, and two Gwernogle . . . . 120

others . . . . . . 148 Capel Isaac . . . . 78

Builth . . . . . . . . . 60 Salem . . . . . . . . 40

Cwmwysg . . . . . . 50 Pant-teg and Pe-

Crugybar . . . . . . . 85 niel . . . . . . . 150

Ffaldybrenin and Capel Noni . . . . . 23

Esgairdawe . . . 146 Cwmaman and

Tabor . . . . . . . . 102 another . . . . . 310

The general opinion is, that upwards of 3000 souls have been added to the churches of Christ (including all denominations) in South Wales, within the last year. There is at present, throughout South Wales, a general desire for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit: and there are Union Monthly Prayer Meetings in various parts, for the outpouring of the Spirit, which are numerously attended. Indeed I have no doubt that many ministers and churches, besides those which I have mentioned, do already experience, in some degree, the outpouring of the Spirit. Great additions have been made to many Dissenting churches not mentioned in this letter, in the course of last year; and from the aspect of things throughout the country, we have every reason to hope that God will soon cause revivals to be general in Wales.—That you may enjoy much of the Divine presence, and great success in the ministry is the sincere prayer of,

Dear Sir, yours, respectfully, &c.


Carmarthen, Feb. 7, 1829.’ [Congregational Magazine, xii (April 1829), pp.224-5; also reprinted in New Baptist Miscellany, May 1829, pp.205-6, and in Henry Foster Burder, Pastoral Discourses on Revivals of Religion, London 1829, pp.103-6. NB All place names in the above letter from David Peter have been modernised]

This information was kindly provided by Geraint Jones

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