Powys Digital History Project

Religion in Wales
Church and chapel

The resilience of puritanism
Despite persecution and the exodus of many Welsh Quakers, nonconformity in the early eighteenth century clung on in small communities. Old puritanism had survived, and was particularly resilient in Breconshire where Congregationalists and Baptists were the most common sects, often meeting in scattered groups at private houses.Maesyronnen Chapel
The Toleration Act of 1689 allowed dissenters to worship freely in licensed meeting houses. Even though their members were still excluded from universities and public office, the dissenting sects had some protection in law. Their members were a small but influential minority in society, particularly in anglicised south Wales.

The first chapels in Powys
Among the earliest chapels or meeting houses in Powys were Maesyronnen chapel (above) in Glasbury parish, and the Quaker Meeting House at The Pales near Llandegley (right), both examples being in remote locations.
In the early period in the eighteenth century there was a great surge in the publishing and distribution of Welsh bibles and tracts, and translated works like Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. The Welsh Trust and the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge worked hard to distribute subsidised works, and a Welsh bible became a family treasure, even among many poor labouring families. This not only encouraged literacy, but prepared the ground for a grass-roots response to Methodism.

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