Revealed – Wales' favourite place of worship

Published: Friday, September 1, 2017

 

Tabernacle Chapel in Morriston, Swansea has been voted as Wales' favourite place of worship.

Huw Edwards, broadcaster and journalist and Vice President of the National Churches Trust launched the 'Sacred Wales – Cymru Sanctaidd' competition in July this year, calling on the public to vote for the Welsh church or chapel they liked the most.

Tabernacle Chapel has today, 1 September 2017, been revealed as the winner with 7,081 people voting for it as their favourite on the 'Sacred Wales – Cymru Sanctaidd' website .

Tabernacle Chapel beat off competition from 49 other churches and chapels. Runners up were St Michael and All Angels, Efenechtyd with 4,498 votes and the Church of the Holy Cross, Mwnt with 1,884 votes.

A Grade I listed building, Tabernacle Chapel was designed by Welsh architect John Humphreys and opened in 1870. It was said to be perhaps the most ambitious chapel in Wales and cost what was then the huge sum of £18,000. It is known as the 'Cathedral of Welsh Nonconformity', and has a largely unaltered interior and fittings.

Tabernacle Chapel will receive a special 'Sacred Wales – Cymru Sanctaidd' glass trophy, designed by Sandra Snaddon, a Fellow of the Guild of Glass Engravers, and a prize of £500. The trophy and prize money will be handed over at a presentation on Thursday 28 September 2017 at Tabernacle Chapel.

Huw Edwards, broadcaster and journalist and Vice President of the National Churches Trust said:

"I'm delighted that Tabernacle Chapel, 'the cathedral of chapels' has been voted Wales' favourite church or chapel in the National Churches Trust's 'Sacred Wales – Cymru Sanctaidd' competition."

"With its eight huge Corinthian columns and arches, and a magnificent spire, Tabernacle is an unmistakable building in the lower Swansea valley. The interior is of equal quality with a downward-swooping choir gallery and distinctive three-case organ."

"The chapel remains a vibrant centre for the community, hosting local cultural groups, weekly choir practices by local choirs, activity days for the disadvantaged and disabled and, of course, regular Sunday services."

"'Sacred Wales – Cymru Sanctaidd' has helped to showcase 50 of the most beautiful and historic churches and chapels of Wales. Thanks to everyone who visited the website and who voted for their favourite church or chapel and also to the Welsh Places of Worship Forum for their help. It's been a great celebration of some the most beautiful religious buildings anywhere in the world."

Huw Tregelles Williams, representing Tabernacle Chapel, said:

"As members of Morriston Tabernacle congregation we are delighted that this iconic building has won the 'Sacred Wales – Cymru Sanctaidd' competition. We would like to thank all those in our community and further afield who have made this possible."

"The poll reflects the large number of choirs that have performed here over the years and the audiences which attended their concerts. Worship and music have worked hand in hand since the beginning of the Tabernacle story, when the lower Swansea Valley was the copper capital of the world; one of the early conductors of the Morriston Tabernacle choir was Penfro Rowlands, composer of the hymn tune Blaenwern sung to Love divine, all loves excelling throughout the Christian world."

"Since 1993, congregation, community, Cadw, the Welsh Government's historic environment service, and the Heritage Lottery Fund have worked together on a phased programme of restoration of the building and its organ at a cost exceeding £1.5m."

"This award is made at the beginning of another potential new chapter as the City and County of Swansea and the congregation apply for funding to implement the recommendations of an Options Study for the building's future which was commissioned by the Welsh Government. The recommendations include improved access and works to make designated areas of the building more flexible in order to expand the range of community activities currently held. Care will be taken to preserve all original features consistent with Grade I listing so as to maintain the building in its present fine condition for future generations."

About Tabernacle chapel

History and photographs of the restoration can be seen on www.morristontabernacl.org

An Open Day will be held at Tabernacle on Thursday, September 14, 10 am to 6pm, when there will be an opportunity to see an exhibition of the building's history and to engage in a consultation on the Conservation Area in which it stands.