Ystalyfera History

Saint James's Church, Godre'rgraig


Saint James's, Godre'rgraig was initially conceived as a parish hall, but was completed in 1914 as a combined hall and mission chapel. It celebrated its half-century in 1964, from which reports in the Llais a lot of the information below comes. We are not aware of any surviving photographs of Saint James's and would be indebted to anyone who could provide us with some to use on our website. Whilst officially described as a mission "chapel", the establishment was known generally as Saint James's Church.

From the book 'The History of Pontardawe and District' by John Henry Davies:-

The church of St James is a mission church at the village of Godre'rgraig, some one and a half miles distant from Ystalyfera. It was founded in 1914, first as a Parish Hall for Godre'rgraig. However, the Rev Secundus Jones prevailed on the local landowner that it should be a dual purpose building, namely Church and Hall in one. It is a simple stone structure with the bell tower on its western end and has a seating capacity of 120. The Church's 50th anniversary was celebrated in July 1964, at the time of the Feast of its patron, St James the Apostle.

Reverend Secundus Jones of Ystalyfera and deacons, mid 1920s

The Rev. Secundus Jones, Vicar of Ystalyfera 1912-1929

From the Cambria Daily Leader 17th July 1914:-

The formal opening of St. James' Mission Church, Godre'rgraig, took place on Thursday afternoon. There was a good attendance of the clergy and leading layment of the district.
The new church, which will seat 200 people, is the gift of Colonel Gough, Ynyscedwyn House, to the parish of Ystalyfera, and the furniture was provided by Mrs Gough. The builders were Messrs. Hopkin and Evans, contractors, Ystalyfera, and the architects, Messrs C.S. Thomas, Meager, and Jones, Swansea.
Mrs Gough unlocked the door with a silver key, presented her on behalf of the builders and architects by Mr Charles Thomas, and Colonel Gough rang the bell calling the people to worship. The Bishop of Swansea preached at the subsequent service, which was intoned by the Rev. D.C. Rees, vicar of Kilvey, Swansea.

The 50th Anniversary

St James' Church, Godre'rgraig

Saint James' Church's 50th anniversary was celebrated in July 1964, at the time of the Feast of its patron, St James the Apostle.

From The Voice newspaper, 17th July 1964


Special services will be held at Saint James's Church, Godre'rgraig later this month to mark the 50th anniversary of the consecration and opening of the church for public worship.

Older residents of Godre'rgraig will recall the time when the little mission church was being built and how the then-vicar, the late Rev Secundus Jones, approached the late Colonel Fleming Gough, who had donated the land and suggested that what was originally intended to be a parish hall for Godre'rgraig, should be a dual-purpose church. This was agreed.

The greatest treasures of the church are a solid silver medium-sized patten and chalice - donated by the Gough family - which is used at all the celebrations of the Holy Communion.

Recently, an altar rail and credence table were dedicated by the vicar, the Rev A G Lewis, in memory of the late Rev W I Griffiths, an old boy of the parish and former Vicar of Rhayader, who died in 1962.

Special services at the church will be held as follows: Thursday July 23rd, 10:30am Holy Communion; 7pm Evensong, the Rev Tom Kelly, Vicar of Gorthbrengi, Brecon, former curate of the parish, will be the preacher.

Sunday July 26th 9am Capital of the Holy Communion; 6pm Evensong, preacher the Rev Wynford Jones, Vicar of Clydach.

From The Voice newspaper, 31st July 1964


Attendances at Saint James's Church, Godre'rgraigg were good for the 50th aniversary of the church.

On Thursday the Rev Tom Kelly, Vicar of Garthbrengi, was the special preacher and on Sunday evening the Rev J Wynford Jones, Vicar of Clydach. Most impressive sermons were preached on both occasions.

The services were conducted by the Vicar, the Rev A G Lewis and the Lessons were read by the Churchwardens - Messrs Willie Rees - who has been churchwarden for 40 years, and has given wonderful service to the church in this office, and Emlyn Morgan. The organist was Mrs Emlyn Morgan.

On Sunday morning, the vicar dedicated an Oak Font Cover and Brass Font Ewer in memory of Mrs Betty Ball. The Font Cover was the gift of her husband, Mr David Ball, and the Font Ewer the gift of her mother, Mrs Powell.

The Vicar, in his address, referred to the good qualities of Mrs Ball, who was such an active worker in church affairs. She was a Sunday school teacher and a member of the Parochial Church Council. Her passing at the early age of 36 years brought about a deep sense of sorrow and loss for the church and amongst her many friends.

Ministers of Saint James' Church

Saint James' Church was in the parish of Ystalyfera, so was under the ministry of the Vicars of Ystalyfera.
However, Saint James's Church, Godre'rgraig did have Curates of its own, and we will endeavour to create a list here, from what sources we can find.



From The Llais

The Llais newspaper had always included a round-up of happenings at local churches and chapels, even when these were not part of any particular story. Sometimes they advertised forthcoming events, and at other times who was preaching, or had preached there recently.

From the Labour Voice newspaper, Saturday December 23rd 1922:-


An excellent and most successful concert, in aid of St. James' Church, Godre'rgraig was given at the Church Hall last Thursday. A crowded attendance was presided over by Captain D J Williams, and the following contributed to a most enjoyable programme:- Mr and Mrs Kingham, Mr and Mrs W D Evans, Mr J Thomas, Miss Jeanette Jones, Miss Gladys Williams, Miss Lily Wallace, Miss May Williams, Miss Bessie Williams, Dr Wright, the Brothers Asaph Williams and Mr Cliff Price.
A hearty vote of thanks was proposed by Mr John Griths and seconded by the Vicar (the Rev J S Jones)

The Labour Voice newspaper, 13th January 1923 mentions Christmas for the children of Saint James':-

The Sunday School children had their annual Christmas tea and distribution of prizes on Saturday last. There was a large number of children present, and a very pleasant afternoon and evening were spent. The children sang a number of carols.

The Labour Voice newspaper of Saturday February 20th 1926 records:-

Quarterly services will be held on Sunday next at Saint James' Mission Church, Godre'rgraig. Saint David's special choir have kindly consented to give a rendering of the scriptural cantata "The King in Zion" at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, under the conductorship of Mr J Hanson. The vicar will conduct the service and preach in the evening.