Skip to topic | Skip to bottom

The Carmarthenshire Historian


Start of topic | Skip to actions

'Change and Decay....'

HomeThe old church at Llanybri, familiarly known as Yr Hen Gapel, is fast falling into decay and lack of money may mean that it will not survive much longer. Those who have the care of it have struggled valiantly in recent decades to keep it in repair, but it seems that the shortage of finance will inevitably defeat them. The roof is ruinous, the ceiling has collapsed, the furnishings are rotten, and the walls are crumbling. Already, it is probably beyond repair and restoration would very likely involve rebuilding, the cost of which has been estimated at several thousands of pounds.

In turn it has been a Roman Catholic church, an Anglican church and a Nonconformist chapel. The date of its erection as a chapel-of-ease attached to Llanstephan Church is not known, but there is a record of its existence in 1388. It was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and in ancient records it is referred to as Morbrichurche, which name appears to have been corrupted into Marble Church. According to the Commissioners appointed by Edward VI to take an inventory of church possessions, it had 'a chalyce and ij belles'.

The profits of the living were alienated by the tenth earl of Northumberland to one Henry Champion of the Inner Temple, who in turn diverted it into the hands of the Nonconformists some time in the second half of the 17th century. Nonconformity in the parish dates from the time of Stephen Hughes, once vicar of Meidrim and Marble Church and one of the clergy deprived of their livings in consequence of the Act of Uniformity, 1662. The church may have come into the possession of the Independents (or Congregationalists) through his endeavours, but more probably through those of William Evans, who became the leader of Dissent after Hughes's death.

The church lost much of its ancient appearance when it was restored in 1879. The present building is long and narrow, with walls only ten feet high. At the west end there is a square tower, which has been used as a storehouse in recent times. The last religious service was held there in 1962. The winter of 1963 took severe toll of the building, which has since deteriorated rapidly. The accompanying picture was taken in 1952, or perhaps earlier.

The conspicuous black hulk fast in the sand off Towyn Point in Carmarthen Bay is that of the four-masted schooner Paul. She was carrying a cargo of timber from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and was bound for Milford for orders but fog put her off her course and she ran ashore on the Cefn Sidan sands in the early hours of Friday, 30th October, 1925. Eleven of her crew of sixteen, the majority of them Germans, took to a boat and were picked up by the Ferry-side life-boat, the Richard Ashley, which then returned to the Paul and took off the captain and the rest of the crew. The weather worsened and a strong tide drove her further ashore close to the remains of a much earlier wreck, the Teviotdale. The next day the Cardiff tug Beaver arrived but failed to put a line aboard owing to heavy seas. Further attempts by the Beaver and other tugs were unsuccessful and she drifted to her present position. During the next few months local fishermen were employed to raft her cargo ashore at the Bertwn where it was stacked and later sold. Another attempt to tow her off failed and in October of the following year Lloyd's agent reported that she had been disposed of as a wreck.

Her career had been a brief one. She was built in America in 1919 by the MacAteer Shipbuilding Company of Seattle for Norwegian owners, and named the Mount Whitney. She was 1,538 tons gross, 1,367 net and measured 230 feet in length, 45 feet in breath and 18 feet 2 in. in depth. The designation of her rig was that of a four-masted, fore-and-aft schooner, a rig favoured by the Americans and Canadians who towards the end of the 1914-1918 War built a number of these vessels of wood in order to conserve stocks of steel. In 1924 she was owned by H. Sager of Flensburg and called the Margaretha Sager. In the following year her name was changed to Paul, her port of registry being Hamburg.

W. H. MORRIS, M.A., Kidwelly.

Attention is drawn to an error in the article entitled 'Women's Institutes and Local History' in the third volume of The Carmarthenshire Historian where the adjudication of the scrapbook competition in respect of the Welsh Section at page 56 should have been given as follows: Pumpsaint, Llannon, Rhandirmwyn.
to top

Historian.ChangeAndDecay moved from Home.ChangeAndDecay on 11 Sep 2005 - 15:54 by ChrisJones - put it back
You are here: Historian > HistorianVol4 > ChangeAndDecay

to top