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City Mission - The Story of London's Welsh Chapels


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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: FLOW An overview of Welsh migration to London since Tudor times Chapter 2: BEGINNINGS Howell Harris and early Welsh preaching in London Chapter 3: OUT OF THE WILDERNESS The move from Wilderness Row to Jewin Crescent Chapter 4: JOURNEY TO JEWIN The story of Jewin, Londons oldest Welsh chapel Chapter 5: FROM LAMBETH TO BOROUGH The roots of Londons Independent Welsh chapels Chapter 6: DOCKERS The dockyard origins of Woolwich, Deptford and Lewisham chapels Chapter 7: SAILORS SERMONS The sailors services which led to the Cambrian, Crosby Row and Falmouth Road chapels Chapter 8: EAST ENDERS Londons East End and the chapels of Poplar, Mile End, East Ham, Stratford, Walthamstow and Leytonstone Chapter 9: ELFEDS KINGDOM The Independents in Fetter Lane and Capel Elfed at Kings Cross Chapter 10: DAIRY DISPUTES How modest Nassau Street chapel became mighty Charing Cross Road Chapter 11: BAPTIST BASTION The story of the Welsh Baptist powerhouse in Eastcastle Street Chapter 12: POINTS WEST The bustling world of Radnor Walk, Walham Green, Hammersmith and Ealing chapels Chapter 13: BEYOND THE JUNCTION An expanding Welsh community sustains Clapham Junction, Battersea Rise, and Sutton chapels Chapter 14: NORTHERN PANORAMA A panorama of north London includes chapels at Wilton Square, Barretts Grove, Islington, Holloway, Wood Green, Willesden, Wembley, Harrow and Cockfosters Chapter 15: WESLEYS WAYS The Wesleyan Methodists built one of Londons grandest Welsh chapels in City Road Chapter 16: ANGLICAN ENCLAVES The little-known story of Londons Welsh-speaking Anglican churches


In Shakespeares time the Welsh of London were often figures of fun, their accent mocked and their country ways the subject of derision. Yet over the centuries the Welsh presence in London has been a significant one and, like most national communities in cosmopolitan cities, Welsh people have sought ways to retain their identity and preserve something of home. Nowhere has this been more evident than in their determination to maintain their own places of worship as oases of Welsh-language life in a sea of Englishness. This beautifully produced book charts the rise, decline and continued existence of the London Welsh chapels. It is a very visual work, in the range and quality of its illustrations and in the vivid picture of chapel and church life which the author conjures up. Moving with the polished ease of a television documentary, the book takes us on a journey through different parts of London where the Welsh established chapels of all denominations, and some Anglican churches, and introduces us not only to the buildings (many of which have now disappeared or been converted to other uses) but also to the people who raised them and led the congregations over the years, men like the patriarchal Dr Owen Thomas and the colourful Hwfa Mn. Equally valuable, however, is the testimony of the people who have grown up and worshipped in London chapels, and whose recollections speak to us in a direct and intimate way, recalling preachers and social activities, and underlining the significance of the chapels as hubs of London Welsh life. More than once the author wryly comments on the function of the chapels and their clubs and societies as marriage bureaux. The story is a remarkable one of sheer determination. Many of the chapels were built at great cost to their members and carried heavy debts for many years. Yet they were fortunate in having influential supporters in the business and political communities in London, people like the MP Timothy Davies and Lloyd George himself, who as Prime Minister in 1917 took his daughter to be married not in a grand London church but in Castle Street Welsh Baptist chapel. They were fortunate also in attracting able and charismatic ministers from Wales, men like Peter Hughes Griffiths at Charing Cross and Elfed at Kings Cross, who built up a huge personal following among their people. The author does not pull his punches. He is ready to censure the vanity of those who constructed grand buildings beyond their means, and is critical of the failure of congregations to come together for the sake of maintaining the Welsh Christian testimony in London. In a sense that failure, born as it is from the commitment of people to their own place of worship, is a symptom of the nature of the communities developed over the generations. So strong has been the sense of community in one place that it has proved difficult for people to uproot themselves, a difficulty which many congregations in Wales have also experienced. One of the most poignant illustrations in the book shows the Revd. D. S. Owen conducting a wedding ceremony in the ruins of a bombed-out Jewin in 1943 even in ruin it was for its people a place like no other. Nevertheless the author sees hope in the continued commitment of those congregations which survive, people who may never have lived in Wales but who value the ability to worship in Welsh. For them, as for all who read it, this superb book will be a treasure. Rhidian Griffiths It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgment should be included: A review from, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council. Gellir defnyddio'r adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar, trwy ganiatd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru. -- Welsh Books Council

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