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Yr Hen Gapel;Tabernacle Chapel, Pencader

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Map ReferenceSN43NW
Grid ReferenceSN4453336125
Unitary (Local) AuthorityCarmarthenshire
Old CountyCarmarthenshire
Type Of SiteCHAPEL
PeriodPost Medieval
Hen Capel is situated within the village of Pencader (NPRN 96648). An independent chapel was established here in the 1670s, and is one of the oldest sites in the country connected with nonconformity. It is located some 170m south-east of St Mary's Church (418670), which was built on the site of Capel Mair (NPRN 417641) in 1882. Yr Hen Capel may be the chapel referred to in 1710 as probably having been built with stone from the ruined Capel Mair.

In 1710, archdeacon Tennison gave what is considered to probably be the earliest account of any Carmarthenshire dissenting structure. he described the meeting house as seated, with 'the pulpit made neat, the floor even, and the gallery decent'. He went on to say 'In these particulars it reproaches the churches in Wales, which lie generally in a very nasty condition...In the meeting house there is a school, and in it the children are taught both the church and the Assemblies' catechism. The master is one that [William] Evans of Carmarthen is training up for a Presbyterian preacher. He has no licence. Evans preaches here three Sundays in a month, and has a monthly sacrament. There are about 50 of this parish come to see him, and as many from Llan Fihangel Iorwerth. There are sometimes from these and other parishes between two and three hundred hearers; the room being so full below and above stairs that some of the hearers place themselves at the windows...There is but one sermon a month at the [parish] church, notwithstanding the Disseneters are so diligent as to have three sermons a month at Pencader, where till of late there was a chapel standing which did belong to this parish'.

The chapel was rebuilt in 1780. The present building dates from 1827, with modifications from 1839 and 1869. A new chapel, Tabernacle (NPRN 97272), was built nearby in 1909. The old chapel was restored and partly converted for secular use in the 1980s. The interior is sub-divided horizontally, with the upper gallery level used as a chapel and workshops below. Yr Hen Gapel is built in the Simple Round-Headed style of the long-wall entry type, and is now Grade II listed.

RCAHMW, July 2009