Powys Digital History Project 

Church and chapel 8
The heyday of nonconformity

Photographs by
kind permission of
Radnorshire Museum

A vital role in many lives
It is important to remember that in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century heyday of the nonconformist movement, the chapel was at the centre of the lives of thousands of people.Chapel at Newbridge-on-Wye
They would meet together for worship and for other gatherings in grand urban buildings like the chapel pictured on the previous page and in modest wayside chapels like the one at Newbridge-on-Wye, Radnorshire in the old photograph shown here, meeting both the spiritual and social needs of families.The photograph below shows a gathering for a baptism at Newbridge during the dominant years of nonconformism.

A long slow decline
Gradually though, developments in science and technology and the spread of Darwinism did lead to a shift away from fundamentalist attitude in some sects and sin and damnation were heard of less in sermons.
The great Revival of 1904/5 did produce a groundswell of nonconformist belief and an extra 80,000 members joined denominations in Wales. By 1912, however, three quarters of these had drifted away and the trend since then has been for a long slow decline with chapels closing across the nation.

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