Powys Digital History Project

Church and chapel 5
The Anglican church in Wales


A new network of schools
In contrast to the vibrant nonconformist sects, the Church of England often seemed remote and anglicized and too closely associated with the land owning classes.
The growing number of evangelicals within the church were anxious about the massive success of nonconformity, and the National Society was founded in 1811 with the intention of creating a network of schools where the children of the poor would be taught in accordance with the beliefs of the established church. These schools benefited from the support system of the diocesan structure and the endowments of the gentry.
In 1833 there were almost 150 National schools in Wales, and by 1847 there were a further 231.

Safeguarding Welsh culture
In the early 19th century, Bishop Thomas Burgess of St David’s strove to meet the challenge. He was a supporter of Welsh language preaching in church and was behind the creation of the Cambrian Societies which organised local eisteddfodau. Clergy in border parishes like Kerry and Abergavenny were active in safeguarding Welsh literature and culture.
In 1847 a damning report of a commission into the provision of education in Wales was published. The commissioners totally failed to understand the difficulties of educating Welsh speaking children in English, and their prejudices were further fed by the evidence of some clergy who blamed poor educational performance on a chapel upbringing. There was a violent tide of resentment against this report and against the Anglican Church, and for many years the clergy had to contend with the feeling in many circles that the church had somehow betrayed the Welsh people.

There are 8 pages in this sequence. Use the box links below to view the other pages.