Wales and the Welsh are very strongly associated with chapels and the chapel choral culture. There has been a sharp decline in the culture in the last 50 years but up until the second world war the chapel was the centre of both rural and industrial families social life. This is clear to see from the letters contained in our book “The Triumph of Hope over Adversity”.
The main non- conformist denominations in Wales:
- The Independents or Congregationalists . Very strong in the south, west and east of the country. In England and in the east of Wales the Congregationalists combined with the Presbyterians in the 1970s to form the United Reformed Church. M ost Congregationalists are members of Undeb yr Annibynwyr Cymraeg (the Union of Welsh Independents), which is particularly important in Carmarthenshire and Brecknockshire.
- The Baptists, who tend to have a similar distribution to the Independents.
- The Wesleyan Methodists who are normally associated with the English speaking areas.
- Calvinistic Methodists (Presbyterians) significant in the north west of Wales and the west.
Despite there being over 6000 chapels at one time in Wales, there is no complete list and no one place you will be able to find the records which means success is likely to be greater if you visit Wales to do your research.
In west Wales (Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Cardiganshire) we are lucky to have the book – “ The Parish Churches and Nonconformist Chapels of Wales” Their records and where to find them. ISBN 0962159514 We have a copy of the book in our library and would be happy to do one –off look ups.
The Royal Commission of Ancient Monuments of Wales has two major projects ongoing of complying a database of all the chapels plus a virtual museum of the history of the chapel in Wales.
It also worth consulting the Capel - The Chapel Heritage Society website
The Church in Wales recognise the importance of tourism and ancestral research and have produced a website showing all the “open” churches in Wales http://www.ctnw.co.uk/
And they also have links to the pilgrimage and faith trails in Wales
A complete list of parish churches can be found on the Wales Genuki pages.