Historic chapel open again
Building was hit by thieves
A LLANELLI chapel targeted by thieves who ransacked religious arte- facts, the christening font and a clock more than 140 years old, re-opened at the weekend.
Tabernacl Chapel welcomed worshippers on Sunday at 3pm.
Professor Stuart Cole, one of the chapel’s trustees, said there had been damage to a door as well as the thefts.
He added: “However, prompt action by DyfedPowys Police recovered most items.”
The chapel re-opening was a one-off service ahead of further talks with the congregation over the long-term plan.
Professor Cole said: “With the chapel having been closed for some months, naturally people have gone to other chapels so we have contacted those chapels within a five to 10-mile radius. Following Sunday, we will see what the long-term plans are for services.”
Llanelli-born broadcaster Huw Edwards in his book Capeli Llanelli Our Rich Heritage commented that Tabernacl’s fabric “conveys solidity and strength”.
“There is no building in Llanelli to match its imposing grandeur,” he said. “In my view, it is even more impressive than the Town Hall which stands a few yards away. This is one of the best nonconformist buildings in Wales, and for many it is without question the most impressive chapel in the county, with its rich decoration and superb craftsmanship.
“It is a grade two listed building with a Roman, Romanesque, Gothic, Greek facade.
“It had among its members people of great musical and literary ability with the Reverend Gwylfa Roberts a leading hymn writer, and the Reverend Gwyndaf Evans, a past Archdruid of the National Eisteddfod Gorsedd, among its gwenidogion (ministers). Tabernacl was always able to pick the best of a good bunch”.
Indeed, Lord Elwyn Jones served with distinction as Lord Chancellor, the highest judicial post in Britain.
Professor Cole said: “As with most chapels in Wales the membership number at Tabernacl Chapel, Llanelli, has declined.
“By the end of 1875 there were more than 500 members and half the construction loan had been repaid.
“Not so now, though it has seating for a thousand.
“As an independent chapel, it is owned by its congregation but has close links with its ‘mother chapel’ Capel Als.”