Gellionnen Chapel came into being in 1692 as a single storey building serving the people of the area who had previously met in each others homes. Although today it seems to be a place apart, we have to remember that it sits where four roads converge, leading from Swansea and Brecon, Neath and Ammanford. We must also remember that it stands on a site of pre Christian worship. It has been a special place for thousands of years. On the outer end wall is a copy of the 900 year old Gellionnen Stone. This replaces the original which was transferred to Swansea museum.
Eventually in 1802, the chapel roof was renewed, the walls raised, and a handsome slate roof turned it into the building we see today. The old flagstones were lifted and set outside the building where they still remain.
Around about 1697 Lewis Davies kept a Sunday School here for all ages – that’s about forty years before Robert Raikes was recognised as the founder of the Sunday School Movement!
Thomas Morgan lies in the graveyard. He administered cowpox to the children of the valley long before Edward Jenner’s written accounts became known. Inside the chapel is the memorial stone cut by Ido Morgannwg. Ido was a committed Unitarian. This incredibly well read man walked to London for conversations at the Lunar Society on many occasions. He was well known to many of the great houses and would be allowed use of their libraries. Householders might well have been flattered by his interest and learning.
The interest of music in the chapel with its barrel ceiling is long standing. In time past there was a choir and a band. In 1951 a hymn book, Salmau’r Mynydd was published, both words and music. It had been written by the people of Gellionnen and Graig chapels.
Still these days we have our Folk services when all are welcome to bring their songs and instruments. The same happens on Christmas Eve when the day is welcomed in by a trumpeter. January brings a visit from the Mari Lwyd; and so it goes on!
We have recently observed Mind Awareness Day when we were taken through an hour of meditation by a member of the Swansea Buddhist group. A collection on that day was made for Mind Cymru.
Gellionnen Chapel is a grade 2 listed building, a precious place belonging to everyone. On Saturday 8th September we plan an ‘Open Day’ with all welcome to look around. Our resident historian Dr. Rory Castle Jones will be at hand to listen to your stories and answer your questions if he can.