Gellionnen Unitarian Chapel
Tel: 01792 215452
Mobile Tel: 07964 943246
A Brief History of Gellionnen Chapel
compiled by Marian Littlepage
Gellionnen Chapel was built in 1692 at a crossroads where four roads converge leading from Swansea to Brecon, Ammanford to Neath.
In the 17th Century, Rev. Lewis Davies established a Sunday School for all ages which he ran for more than 40 years, predating Robert Raikes who was honoured as the official founder of the Sunday School Movement.
In the 18th Century, the Rev. Josiah Rees became a well known writer and publisher. His son Owen was a founder member of Longmans Publishing Firm. They shared their home with Thomas Morgan who was subsequently buried at Gellionnen Chapel. Renowned for his wide knowledge of herbal remedies, he had been successfully vaccinating local children against smallpox by using cowpox many years before Edward Jenner was recognised for his fight against smallpox.
In the 19th Century, minister John James was also head of Vardre House Secondary Boarding School, Clydach. He was a Greek scholar and a great friend of Iolo Morgannwg. It is said that when a Greek boat was wrecked off the coast at Llangrannog, John James was called to converse with the shipwrecked sailors.
In the 20th Century, the folk of Gellionnen put together a printed collection of their own hymns and tunes. The chapel also had its own brass band, ready at the drop of a hat to raise the roof!
By the second half of the 20th Century, the late Dr. Elwyn Davies, minister of Gellionnen and her daughter chapel the Graig, was writing hymns in Welsh and English. Lawrence Bowen, organist at the Graig Chapel, was writing hymn tunes and continues to do so. Lawrence is still the organist at the Graig and takes great pride in the chapel's pipe organ, a superb instrument built by the widely and affectionately known Mr "Battleship" Binns. Lawrence is founder and conductor of the Trebannws Mixed Choir.
Views of the Chapel
All photos by Keith Lewis-Jones