History and Heritage

Bethel Apostolic Chapel, Penywern, Ystalyfera

Bethel Apostolic Church on Penywern road, Ystalyfera, was opened in 1914. In records it is variously referred to as either an apostolic church or an apostolic chapel, and the London Gazette refers to it as a mission hall.

In 1941, Bethel Apostolic Chapel was able to establish its own burial ground - New Bethel Cemetery. The article in the Llais references its pastor, Thomas Evans.

From the South Wales Voice newspaper, 31st May 1941:-

On Wednesday a new cemetery at Alltygrug, was formally opened with a service of religious dedication. The land which is freehold was acquired by the members of Bethel Apostolic Church and the site adjoins the St David's Churchyard.
The entrance to the new cemetery confronts the new council houses at Penywern Road.

On behalf of the members of Bethel, Pastor Evans thanked the local ministers and those present for their support. He said that the cemetery had been visualised as long as 22 years ago. Difficulties had then arisen but now the cherished ideal had been realised. Mr Evans emphasised that the new cemetery regulations did not place any restrictions as to the rites and ceremonies of burial, but everyone was at liberty to follow their own personal creed and belief.

In 1950, Bethel gained the right to solemnise marriages:-

From the London Gazette, 20th June 1950:-


A Separate Building, duly certified for religious worship, named BETHEL MISSION HALL situated at Penywern Road Ystalyfera in West Glamorgan registration district in the county of Glamorgan was on 12th June 1950 registered for solemnising marriages therein, pursuant to Sec. 41 of the Marriage Act 1949 - Dated 13th June 1950

Ivor Lloyd Isaac Superintendent Registrar

Bethel Apostolic Church, Penywern, Ystalyfera

Despite being solemnised for weddings, it appears that as little as only two weddings took place at Bethel Apostolic Chapel, Ystalyfera.

From the South Wales Voice newspaper, 5th August 1950 comes iinformation on the first wedding:-


The first wedding ceremony ever to be performed at Bethel Mission Hall was witnessed by a large congregation on Saturday last. The contracting parties Miss Ray Bowen daughter of Mr and Mrs T H Bowen the Bungalow Penywern Ystalyfera and Mr Trevor Price, son of Mr and Mrs William Price Blaengors Cottage Neath Road Ystradgynlais are a very popular young couple and well-known in local religious circles. The officiating ministers were Pastor Brinley Rees Bethel, assisted by Pastor Harry Price Peniel Godre'rgraig: the organist was Miss Eunice Evans.
The bride, who was given away by her father, wore a gown of white French crepe and a floor length veil of Brussels lace held in place by a coronet of white gardenias; she carried a bouquet of red carnations with trailing fern. She was attended by Miss Bethan Cope her cousin, who wore a pink satin gown and a floral head dress of pink carnations and carried a bouquet of pink carnations. Matrons of honour were Mesdames Betty Stevens, sister of the bride and Olive Gitsham sister of the bridegroom; both wore gowns of turquoise taffeta veil trimmed with lilies of the valley and carried bouquets of pink carnations. The Misses Marion Williams and Delphine Bowen nieces of the bride, where the flower girls and were prettily attired in gowns of blue silk and carried baskets of assorted flowers; the page boy Wayne Stephens, nephew of the bride, wore a suit of white satin.
On coming out of the church the bride was presented by little Gwenda Borsden and Michael Smith with a lucky silver horseshoe and the lucky silver shoe respectively.
The best man was Mr Harry Bowen, brother of the bride and the groomsmen were Messrs Emrys Green uncle of the groom and John price brother of the groom; the ushers were Messrs Brinley Heale and Gerwyn Jones.
After the reception at Soar Chapel Vestry, the happy couple left for Devon. To travel, the bride wore a model silk floral dress with grey hat and accessories.
One of the most treasured among the large number of gifts was a handsome Holy Bible, presented on behalf of the members of Bethel Mission Hall by Mrs Tom Evans, the senior lady member, as a mark of esteem and a souvenir of the occasion.

He was the Page Boy Front right with his Mother behind and Mary Ann Williams in front of him. Mr Harry Bowen is far left with his daughter Delphine.

From The Voice newspaper, 5th August 1955 comes information on the second wedding:-


The wedding was solemnised at Bethel Church Ystalyfera on Saturday 30th July of Miss Rita Heale youngest daughter of Mr and Mrs Heale 61 Penywern Road and Mr Jackie Harries, elder son of Mr and Mrs Harries 7 Penyrallt. The bride given away by her father wore a white full length gown of figured lace over a figured satin underskirt. Her headdress was of diamonte with trailing veil and her bouquet was of red roses. Attending were the grooms sisters Margaret and Glenys Harries who wore gowns of lime green and lemon taffeta with net and headdresses to match. They carried bouquets of yellow carnations.
The little flower girls were Jennifer Williams, cousin of the groom and Marian Gratton, cousin of the bride. They wore long dresses of peach nylon with taffeta underskirts, Bo Peep style bonnets and carried baskets of rosebuds.
The best man was Mr Daniel Thomas brother in law of the bride, groomsmen were Mr Eric Griffiths friend of the groom of Cwmtwrch and Reggie Harries brother of the groom.
The service was conducted by Pastor Brinley Evans: the organist was Mr John Hughes of Ystalyfera. The reception was held at Soar Vestry. Both parties are active in church work, the bride being the organist in Bethel Chapel.
The honeymoon was in North Wales.

Photograph from the Llais of the wedding of Rita Heale and Jack Harries.

From the Llais

The local Llais newspaper occasionally carried mentions of Bethel Apostolic Church, or its adverts for forthcoming events.

From the South Wales Voice newspaper, Saturday February 5th 1949:-

Bethel Mission Hall

for the deepening of the Spiritual Life will be held, D.V., at the above Church during


Order of Meetings: The Lord's Day at 6pm; Monday and Tuesday at 7pm
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom"
Colossians 3:16

From the South Wales Voice newspaper, March 24th 1951:-


The annual Easter Convention will be at the Bethel Mission Hall from March 24 to 29. The speakers will be Pastor Thomas Lewis, Glynneath, and Mr Trev. Dakin, Tumble. A United Assemblies Services will also be held at Soar Chapel on Saturday, March 31, at 3 and 6pm. The guest speaker will be Pastor F.C. Newcombe, Pontyclun.

Bethel Mission Halls

Small mission halls as offshoots of Bethel Apostolic Chapel were built in Lower Cwmtwrch and in Ystradowen, both named Bethel as its meaning was "House of God".

The South Wales Voice newspaper, DATE, carries an article on an event being held in Bethel Mission Hall, Lower Cwmtwrch:-

The South Wales Voice newspaper, 22nd November 1947, reports on the end of the Bethel Mission Hall, Lower Cwmtwrch, due to dwindling numbers:-

Sold - The "Bethel Fach," Bethel Road, where local members of the Apostolic Church assembled, was last week bought by Mr Tom Jenkins who lives in the adjoining building, with a view of transforming it into a bungalow. The chapel was built 20 years ago, but in the last few years has dwindled into a few members. It was recently decided to close the chapel.

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