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There are 3 separate Baran chapel items included here

 

 

The History of Baran Chapel
1805-2005

Written and contributed by © Eugena Hopkin (April 2006) - as originally published in the Swansea Valley Historical Society Newsletter

 

There is a certain inevitability about the passing of time - memories fail us, well trodden paths become overgrown and the once resplendent buildings of a bygone era are very often left to fend for themselves, to soldier on, and to fight the good fight against the elements. Yet this is not the complete story because history has a remarkable tendency to repeat itself, and when this happens we catch a glimpse of how our forefathers did things, and we relive in our present mode their struggles and sacrifices, and the values which were of the utmost importance to them.

Armed with the inspiration of the past, this is what a small band of dedicated members and friends of Baran Chapel succeeded in doing on a glorious Sunday afternoon on July 17, 2005.

The nine members and their interested compatriots were steeped in the history of their place of worship. They could have laid low and kept their heads down, hoping that nobody would notice that 2005 marked their bicentenary year. But that could never happen, and it would not happen. They had too much respect and admiration for their rich heritage, and so they set about making their preparations, in order to welcome friends and worshippers to Baran Chapel. And just as it was in days of old, Baran Chapel on July 17, 2005 was filled to overflowing.

There was in excess of 200 people present for the service. If you were lucky enough to have a seat in the Chapel itself, you could see and hear the personages taking part. The not so lucky ones had to contend with sitting outside in order that they might also:

'Clywed gyda'r awel
Salmau'r nef yn dod i lawr'.

That in itself was a sufficient blessing for all present, and the fellowship continued with light refreshments in the shade of the tent of meeting, a twenty first century style Tabernacle in the form of a marquee, erected in stark contrast to the ancient monument.

It seemed as if everyone had taken a step backwards in time, and that we were part of that rich vain of eighteenth and nineteenth century Puritanism intent on preserving the uncompromising Gospel of Jesus Christ for future generations. It was that very spirit which led to the founding of Baran Chapel.

In close proximity to Baran Chapel is Gellionnen Chapel, established in 1692 and which fulfilled the spiritual needs of the locality for miles around. But towards the close of the eighteenth century during the ministry of Josiah Rees, Gellionnen Chapel was going through something of a theological upheaval - Trinitarianism was giving way to Unitarianism. This development was not to every member's liking, and it caused a great deal of agitation and unsettlement amongst the worshipping community. At this time also there was a desire on the part of some members to recruit the services of Dr. Thomas Rees, Josiah Rees' son, to assist his father in the discharge of his duties. His theological training was coming to an end, he was a fervent Unitarian and his zeal and scholarship were beyond question. In the opinion of many, he was the ideal choice to share a joint pastorate with his father. But his suitability did not meet with the unanimous approval of all the members. Whilst some favoured Dr. Thomas Rees, others viewed the situation in a different light, and their choice was a certain Mr. Roger Howell who kept the school at Nantymoel Uchaf Farm on Carn Llechart Mountain.

Predictably, and an all too common occurrence within the tradition of Welsh Nonconformity, Gellionnen Chapel along with so many other chapels, suffered the ignominy of schism. As a consequence of these developments, Baran Chapel was established, and prior to its construction the disenchanted members met for Sunday worship, for a time at Llwyn Ifan Farm and later at Nantymoel Uchaf Farm. Presumably the services of this breakaway movement were led by Mr. Roger Howell, and it was primarily due to his and his son, John Howell's generosity in leasing a portion of land for 999 years which led to the building of the Chapel in its present location. Although the lease dates from October 1, 1805 the actual construction had been completed some time before then, and that the Chapel had opened its doors for services.

The very earliest members of the Chapel and its trustees are known to us, and these include:

David Howell, Cwmnant, Hopkin Evan Hopkin, Penlan, John Phillips, Trechwith, Hopkin Harri, Rhydyfro, Rees Thomas, Coedcaemawr, Harry Thomas, Rhydyfro, Philip John and Daniel John, Tresgyrch, Thomas Thomas, Maestirmawr, Samuel Thomas, Llwyndomen, Jenkin Jenkins, Cynghordy Fach.

The first deacons were:

Thomas Jones, Coedcaemawr, David Jones his son, David Jones, Nantmelyn, Hopkin Jones, Tresgyrch, John Davies y Gof.

The first precentor was Mr Owens, Brynchwith.

As for the Chapel itself, when first built it had no gallery and no striking features. It was plain but practical, with two large windows, a high pulpit, a stone floor, box pews and a fire place. A lean-to was the stable which like the Chapel itself had a stone tile roof. At a later date a school room was built, and attached to the rear end of the Chapel which was later used as a vestry and a committee room. It is thought that the gallery was installed in 1830, and in 1894 further renovations were carried out at a cost of £85-10-0 when slates probably replaced the stone tile roof, and the ceiling level was raised. Further improvements were carried out in 1906 when the box pews were removed, and a wooden floor was laid inside the Chapel. For the first time the outer walls were cemented at a total cost of £184-12-0.

The attachment of a school room suggests that Baran Chapel was also used as a place of learning for the children of the local community, a tradition which continued until the opening of the new British School at Rhydyfro in 1844.

Having secured a place of worship, the membership wasted no time in calling a minister. The obvious choice was Mr. Roger Howell and when the 'call' came, he readily accepted the invitation to be the first minister at Baran Chapel. He was ordained on March 14, 1805, and it is particularly noteworthy that in the congregation on July 17, 2005 was Mr. Huw Roberts, a sixth descendent of the Rev. Roger Howell.

For 38 years, the Rev. Roger Howell diligently and dutifully carried out his duties, as he tended to the needs of his flock. He was the ideal choice to be the first minister of Baran Chapel, because he was highly respected as a lay preacher in the locality and as a school teacher to the children of the local community, who attended his school at Nantymoel Uchaf Farm and the one which at a later date was associated with the Chapel itself. His fame as a preacher spread far and wide, and worshippers flocked to Baran Chapel from every direction. They came from such diverse communities as Cwm Gerdinen, Llandremoruchaf, Llwyngwenno, Penwaunfach, Cynghordy Fach, Cefn Parc, Llwyndomen, Craig Trebannws, Alltwen, Clydach, Hendregaradog, Ynysmeudwy, Pentwyn, Blaenegel and Betws to mention just a few. It must have been quite a sight to see people in their Sunday best and Bible black attire, crisscrossing the mountain landscape on foot, on horseback or by whichever means possible in order to attend a service at Baran Chapel. Indeed, the membership swelled to such a degree, that the Chapel was becoming too small for its rapidly growing congregation, and in order to accommodate everybody during this initial period of expansion, Baran Chapel was extended in 1830 when as previously noted, the gallery was installed.

This undertaking naturally was a source of great joy to everybody associated with the Chapel, but the next twenty years or so saw a downturn in the Chapel's fortunes. These can be summarized as follows:

1.The emigration of between 40-50 members of Baran Chapel to Pennsylvania in 1831, which considerably depleted the Chapel's membership. Having settled in their new country, they gave a 'call' to the Rev. Daniel Jones of Pentwyn, one of the three ministers who had been raised in Baran Chapel. He gladly accepted the 'call' and remained there for the remainder of his life. The other two ministers were the Revs. David Jones, Coedcaemawr and John Davies, Ynysmeudwy who also crossed over to America and ministered there. Of interest also is the fact that amongst the emigrant congregation a further two were raised to the ministry, who had connections with the school at Nantymoel Uchaf Farm, namely Llywelyn Hughes and J.H. Jones.
This movement which saw so many of the Baran Chapel community leave for Pennsylvania, preceded the Welsh Settlement at Patagonia by some 30 years.They were exciting times as outlined in a letter written by John P. Jones, dated July 28, 1890.

'If anyone would like to come out here to rent farms they can find them.
It is no trouble here to make money if he tends to his work. So come to
America where everything is free, where you can get plenty of land of
your own. I live within a mile and a half of the Welsh Church where all
the Welsh folks that lived here are buried.'

2.In 1840 the Rev. Roger Howell began to feel unwell and fearful of his condition the congregation decided to extend a call to the Rev. Rhys Pryse from Cwmllynfell to share a joint ministry with the Rev. Roger Howell. When the Rev. Roger Howell died on April 29, 1843, and naturally this was a tremendous loss to the Baran faithful, the Rev. Rhys Prys continued in his role as minister or as caretaker minister until 1844 when he decided to take up the pastorate of the new Chapel in Rhydyfro. Towards this time the membership of Baran Chapel was 181 members.

3.To help found Saron Chapel Rhydyfro in 1844 some 55 members were transferred from Baran Chapel to the daughter Chapel, thus depleting their numbers even further.

Thus after a seemingly uninterrupted period of success and expansion since its inception, suddenly the mountain top congregation had to deal with a number of issues, which would leave the Baran religious community considerably weakened. However undeterred by the loss of their minister and so many of their members, the Rev. D. Davies of Cwmaman was invited in 1844 to become the next minister of Baran Chapel. Like his predecessors, Mr. Davies gave himself totally to his new duties, and for fifteen years he proved to be a faithful minister to God, until he decided to take up the pastorate of a chapel in Ammanford in 1859.

His successor was the Rev. T. Davies from Morriston 1859-1888. It was during his ministry that a further departure of members from Baran Chapel took place in 1866 with the founding of Pantycrwys Chapel, Craig Cefn Parc. As a consequence of this development Baran Chapel's membership in 1871 stood at 65. The Rev. T. Davies was succeeded by the Rev. John Henry Davies, Alltwen, who began his ministry at Baran Chapel in 1890. He was affectionately known as 'Davies bach' or 'Davies Haleliwia', and having accepted the 'call' to Baran Chapel, his ministry lasted 26 years until it was tragically brought to an end in 1916. It was a particularly harsh winter's weekend, and having spent the Sunday at Penlannau Farm, John Henry Davies started out on Monday morning for Ammanford, to catch a train to Llanelli where he lived at the time. Unfortunately the cold weather and the heavy falls of snow proved too much for him, and his body was found by William Jones (Penlannau) and David Jacob (Bryn) and with his passing another chapter in the history of Baran Chapel came to an end.

At this time, Mr H.E. Roberts was the secretary of the Chapel, a position he maintained for 34 years, and the deacons were; David Jones, Nantmelyn, Dafydd Jones and William Jones, Nantymoel Isaf. The Chapel was ably served by William Jones, Penlannau as treasurer, and the above mentioned David Jones, Nantmelyn was the organist.

The unexpected ending of the Rev. John Henry Davies' ministry, led the congregation to 'call' the Rev. J.R. Price of Rhydyfro Chapel, to be the next minister of Baran Chapel (1917). Again he was a popular choice, and he ministered at Baran Chapel for 14 years until his health failed, and he had to resign his position. The Rev. J.R. Price's natural successor was Mr. J.T. James, Alltwen 1940-1963. He was a frequent visiting lay minister to Baran Chapel and first preached there in 1914. At the request of three local Congregational ministers; D.E. Jenkins, Idwal Jones and R. Gwynedd Jones, J.T. James was ordained at Baran Chapel in September 1940, and ministered there until his sudden passing in 1963. For a brief period after his death, the Rev. Robin Williams of Pantycrwys Chapel took over his duties, and it is pleasing to note that he was also present in the bicentenary celebration and took part in the service. After the Rev. Robin Williams' departure to Maesteg, the Rev. William Henry Jones, Danygraig was inducted as minister of Baran Chapel on September 3, 1964. He was the last minister of Baran Chapel, and since his death in 1974, the Chapel has depended totally on ordained and lay ministers to lead the services there on a monthly basis.

The first Sunday in September is a very important date in the calendar of Baran Chapel, because the Baran's Thanksgiving Service is held at that time. Usually a prominent minister is invited to take charge of the meeting, and it is considered a great honour to receive such an invitation. In recent times over a period of twenty years Mrs. Eunice Williams of Pontardawe, one of the founder members of the Swansea Valley Historical Society, has been mainly responsible for arranging the flowers to adorn the chapel for the occasion.

At its peak Baran Chapel was vastly different to the current situation. Today the Chapel's faithful amount to no more than nine members, with each one directly related to the community in which Baran Chapel is situated. Their names are, Mr. Islwyn Jacob, Mr. Gwyn Jacob, Mr. David John Jacob, Miss Janet Jacob, Mr. and Mrs.Islwyn Jones, Mr. Cyril Jones, Mrs. Gwendoline Probert and Miss Mary James. The present day officials are, Mr. Islwyn Jones, Secretary, Mr. Islwyn Jacob, Treasurer and Mr Cyril Jones, Organist. It is worth recording here that Mr. Cyril Jones is the latest in a long line of organists who have their roots in Nantmelyn/Hafod Y Wennol who have dedicated their musical talent to the benefit of the congregations of Baran Chapel.

It should be mentioned here that there has been much speculation as to the meaning of the name Baran. The most likely interpretation is that it has a Biblical connotation, deriving its name from the Hebrew El Paran in the Old Testament, meaning sanctuary. Worthy of note also is the fact that quite apart from its use as a place of worship, Baran Chapel was also used for other purposes.

No account of the history of Baran Chapel would be complete without a brief perusal of the social and cultural activities which were associated with it, and most notably its eisteddfodau, tea parties, pen cwarter (quarterly meetings) concerts and youth club.

Eisteddfodau

By all accounts Baran Chapel hosted an eisteddfod for fifty years, with the last one being held there in the early years following the close of the Second World War. We know for certain that an Eisteddfod was held at Baran Chapel on October 4, 1941. At that time Miss Marion Jones (Marion Pwllwatkin) was the Secretary and Miss Gwendoline Jones (Gwendoline Yr Hafod) was the Treasurer. The poetry adjudicator for the 1941 Eisteddfod was Mr. Abiah Roderick. The title set for the poetry writing competition was 'A Description of the Baran District'. The poem adjudged to be the best was composed by Mr. Charles Williams, Rhydyfro and it comprised of twenty seven verses. The following is an indication only of the main sections of the winning poem.

In the first part, the poem describes the natural beauty of the locality:

'Mae su yr awel dyner
Ar dannau'r yd mor fyw......'

'Ar ben y Baran caf fwynhau
Danteithion dydd o wledd.'

Secondly, the poem describes the various farms dotted on the mountain:

'Gwarchodlu pyrth y Deheu
Yw'r ffermydd cedyrn hyn
Y Llechart Fawr a'r Heolddu-
Amaethdy tlws Cwmbryn.'

In the third section, the poet describes the panoramic views which one can enjoy from the mountain top:

'Afrifed yw'r darluniau
A welwn ym mhob man,
Dim ond athrylith Duw ei hun
Fyth a ddychmygai'r plan'

Finally, the poem concludes with an appeal for those living in the shadow of Baran Chapel to uphold the values which it represents;

'Fe erys dylanwadau
Hen gapel pen y bryn,
Tra'r erys 'Baran' ar ei sail
A'r Clydach lifo'r glyn'

Although it is very difficult to remember the names of competitors, some which readily spring to mind are Hywel Davies, Pontardawe, Islwyn Jones, Yr Hafod and Thomas Charles Miller, Pantycelyn. Because there was no piano in the Chapel, it was left to Mr. William Williams, Corn Stores, Pontardawe to transport in his pick-up the piano back and fore to Nantygyfaelau Farm. Baran Chapel Eisteddfod was an eagerly awaited event. But not everybody was drawn to Baran Chapel because of their cultural interest but because it afforded the opportunity for one to accompany back home the person of one's dreams in the early hours of the morning. Many a courtship started in this way.

Tea party

Undoubtedly this was the highlight of the year and usually held at the beginning of June. The two basic means by which people arrived at the chapel were by foot, traversing such well trodden paths from the direction of Ty Ucha'r Felin, Penlannau, Llechart Fawr, Cwmgors and Rhydyfro. Secondly Mr. Samuel Jones of Hafod y Wennol (Sam yr Hafod) provided a shuttle service in his homemade bus, picking up passengers en route from Gelligron to the Chapel. Although on one occasion during the time soldiers were stationed on Carn Llechart Mountain they helped by using their trucks to ferry people back and fore. It was a real thrill to travel in such a truck with a beaming soldier at its wheel.

In order to ensure that there was a plentiful supply of crockery each family packed their best china, taking care that they were not broken or chipped in any way. Naturally each family contributed to the tea party by way of homemade bread and butter and fresh milk. However cakes were provided by Mrs. Phillips from the Post Office in Rhydyfro and water was carted from the well at Brynchwith. Pop and sweets were provided by Mr. and Mrs. Williams, Corn Stores, Pontardawe in a van conveniently situated outside the cemetery gate. Food was prepared and laid out on tables in the chapel tended by the local farmers' wives and people had to wait their turn for the feast. It was a social event in the truest sense, the children played on the mountainside whilst the older folk happily whiled the day away in the shade of the chapel.

Pen Cwarter

A pen cwarter is a service in which the members themselves take part. It was a very popular form of worship years ago and I daresay the custom still persists today in certain areas. A programme was arranged beforehand which included solos, recitations and Bible readings. The following is an extract from a newspaper account of a Pen Cwarter which was held at Baran Chapel on September 3, (1939):

'Hir gofir am Sabboth, Medi 3, mewn dau gyfeiriad - y newydd
torcalonnus am rhyfel unwaith eto wedi torri allan dros ein byd;
ond ni ataliwyd ein bwriad o gynnal Pen Cwarter y Bobl Ieuainc.
Dyma'r trydydd o fewn y flwyddyn hon, gan obeithio y medrwn cael
un arall cyn y diwedd. Y Llywydd oedd Mr James:- Wele'r rhaglen:-
Adroddiadau: Islwyn Jones, Daniel Joseph Morgan, Gwyn Jacob,
Islwyn Jacob, Tom Jones, Richie James, David John Jacob, Marian
Jones. Dadleuon: Islwyn Jones, D. Jacob Morgan, Ceinwen a Gwendoline
Jones, Islwyn, Ceinwen a Gwendoline Jones. Deuawd gan Gwyneth a
Evelyn Jones. Unawdau gan Gwyneth Jones, Evan J. Morgan, Islwyn
Jones a Ben Walters.'

Other Activities

During the bleak years of the Second World War, Mrs Rowena Snowdon established a night school at Baran Chapel, where the participants were taught to do 'sums'. This activity later developed into a youth club. It was during this time, that Mr. Harold Roberts constructed a stage to fit in the big seat for the purpose of holding concerts, dramas and 'Nosweithiau Llawen'. To assist with these productions, Mr. Abiah Roderick, Mr. George David and Mr. Terry readily gave of their time, in order to instruct the members in the art of performing. There was a very full account of one such 'Noson Lawen' in the local paper where we read:

'The second 'Noson Lawen' held this season at Baran Chapel
and contributed solely by the young people, took place amidst
great success.........no less than four buses ascended the road
which led to the mountain top, conveying patrons from Clydach,
Pontardawe, the Amman Valley and members of the farming
fraternity on the Gwrhyd Mountain......
Upon arrival at the ancient chapel, tea was ready for the
'hungry hunters' and which was well served at moderate charges
by the following inhabitants, Mrs. Sam Jones, Mrs Jacob, Mrs.
Walters, Mrs. Roberts, Mrs. Thomas, Mrs. McSauliffe, Miss D.
Griffiths and Miss O Sullivan and Mrs. Rev. J.T. James.......
The Rev. J.T. James presided and the guest artiste was the
well known poet and entertainer Mr. Abiah Roderick.........
The Baran artistes of course acquitted themselves
admirably........solos by Messrs. Cyril Jones, Willie Williams,
Danny Rees, T.C. Miller and little Miss Margaret Rowlands
Clydach ........a trio consisting of Mrs. Rowena Snowdon and
Messrs. Islwyn Jacob and Islwyn Jones .......... a St. David's Day
speech by Mr. Islwyn Jacob ......... a news item in Welsh by Miss
Ceinwen Jones.......a one act play (presented by) Miss Ceinwen
Jones, Messrs Islwyn and D.J. Jacob, Islwyn Jones and Elwyn
Davies. The accompanist on the piano accordion was Miss
Gwendoline Jones.'

On one occasion some of the soldiers who camped nearby attended a concert at the Chapel and insisted on taking part and by all accounts their contribution was a rousing rendering of 'She'll be coming round the mountain'.

Baran Chapel is only a mere dot on the surrounding landscape, but it is a very important dot, because it marks the location where countless generations during the past two hundred years have caught a glimpse of eternity and enjoyed a very special kind of fellowship. That in itself is sufficient reason for the present members of Baran Chapel to follow in the footsteps of their forefathers, and thus ensuring that the walls of this sanctuary still echo to the sound of Christian worship.

 
 
 


 

Baran Chapel

  By Islwyn Davies, 1999/2000

The article that follows is not intended to be a full and complete history of the Baran chapel, but it contains my views on some aspects of the early history of the chapel and also information gathered of the area whilst pursuing family and local history.

The Baran chapel is situated on a windy exposed hillside in the upper reaches of the Lower Clydach river valley in what was once part of the parish of Llangyfelach. Nearby one finds the derelict farm Brynchwyth formerly Tywyth, testifying to the windiness of the area. One finds Brynchwyth also written as Brynchwith but chwyth meaning 'wind' rather than chwith meaning 'left' is far more appropriate

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the dissenting Non-conformists living west of the river Tawe in the parishes of Llangyfelach and Llangiwg, in what was and still is mainly an upland agricultural area , would have worshipped either at Mynyddbach, Gellionnen or Cwmllynfell chapels. Towards the end of the 18th century a split occurred at Gellionnen chapel. The members that stayed at Gellionnen became Unitarian under their minister Rev. Josiah Rees and  his son Rev. Thomas Rees.

Members that broke away became Trinitarian under the Rev. Roger Howell and formed the Baran chapel in 1805.

Why Baran?

 - the name did not exist locally prior to establishing the chapel.

An article appeared some years ago in the Swansea Valley Local History Society newsletter, which gave credence to the name having been derived from Diana, Lady Barham (1763-1823). This information subsequently found its way into the Evening Post. Whilst Lady Barham was a benefactor in establishing chapels in the Gower in the 19th. century (6 in number) there is also a Barham chapel at Cendl (I believe the old Welsh name for Beaufort near Ebbw Vale). No proof however has surfaced of any connection between the name Baran and Lady Barham. The two names Baran and Barham merely sound the same. Moreover, Lady Barham, a peeress in her own right, did not move from London to the Gower until 1813 thus dispelling the connection theory.  Lady Barham died at Fairyhill in 1823.

Note:
The Barham Independent Chapel (built in 1857) at Cendl worshipped in the English language and was actually named Barham through a family connection of one of the members to Lady Barham.

"Galwyd ef Barham Chapel, o barch i'r Arglwyddes Barham, merch yr hon, sef Mrs. Thompson, a'i  phriod Mr. Thomas Thompson, oedd y rhai blaenaf ar res y tanysgrifwyr at yr adeiladaeth. Rhoddasant hwy hanner can gini i gychwyn"

The six chapels built on the Gower peninsula would also probably have worshipped in English.

The meaning of 'Baran'

To establish the root and meaning of 'Baran' one should consider the following :-

On a stone plaque inside the Baran chapel one sees:

'Ty cwrdd Baran, Nantmol, wedi ei adeiladu yn y flwyddyn a oed ein Harglwydd 1805 a hael rhoddion y gyn'lleidfa hon ac eraill o dan edrychiad Evan Hopkin Penlanne a'r parchedig Roger Howell , Gweinidog ar les o fil ond un wedi ei rhoi gan John Howell am goron y flwyddyn ac i ddechrau'r gwyl angel yn yr un flwyddyn. Maesyniaid William Evan / William Jenkin. Wedi gerfio gan Evan William'

Translation:
'Baran Meeting House, Nantmol , erected in the year of our Lord 1805, from donations of the members and others under the supervision of Evan Hopkin, Penlanne and their Minister the Reverend Roger Howell; given on a lease for 999 years by John Howell at 5 shillings a year, to commence at the beginning of the holiday of the (angel) of the same year. Masons William Evan / William Jenkin. Sculptured by Evan William'.

The early history of the Non-Conformist Independent Chapels of Wales is to be found in HANES EGLWYSI ANNIBYNNOL CYMRU  Vols 1-4 by Reverend Dr. Thomas Rees D.D. Swansea and the Reverend Dr. John Thomas D.D. Liverpool.

 In 1891 the Rev. Dr. John Thomas D.D. updated the history and in Volume 5 we find under Baran -

"Paran, mae yn debyg yw enw y capel hwn yn briodol, ond Baran y gelwir ef gan bawb".
(It's likely that Paran is the proper name for the chapel but everyone calls it Baran)

I do not know where the Rev. Dr. John Thomas D.D. had the information that Paran was the original name, but he had travelled widely throughout Wales. Local knowledge of the Baran area would have come from his stepson, the Rev. Esau Owen, Minister at Hebron Chapel, Clydach, for over 40 years in the 2nd half of the 19th century.

Why Paran?

One could give many reasons why Paran could be considered to be the proper name:

Paran is a name out of the Old Testament, an area in the Eastern part of the Sinai desert. Many if not most of our chapels are named after towns or mountains mentioned in the Bible such as Bethesda , Nebo , Seion , Calfaria , Gosen , Garazim , Hebron etc. Therefore, why not Paran.

There are many references to Paran in the Bible, many of them giving a geographical location to Paran, but in Numbers 10: verses 11-12 & 16 we read of the "Journey towards Paran".

The Israelites leave Sinai and stay for a while at Hazeroth before reaching Paran - a journey not unlike what the Trinitarians carried out in leaving Gellionnen , staying to worship for a few years at Llwyn Ifan and Nantmol farms, prior to erecting their chapel Paran on the nearby mountain.

Thus the choice of Paran is not so unusual, and our forefathers would have been more conversant with the Bible than today's society - the Bible probably being their only book to read.

Whilst at first I thought it to be an almost unique choice, research finds the same name surfacing with:
The Methodists in the mountainous area between the Sirhowy and Ebbw valleys at Manmoel
The Baptists in the Ogwr valley at Blackmill.
The Independents in Pembrokeshire - a branch of the chapel at Treffgarne Owen was named Paran.

Has Paran mutated to Baran?

P does change to B in the Welsh language ( Soft Mutation ).
Did this mutation occur at the time of sculpturing TY CWRDD BARAN NANTMOL?
These words became Y Baran to the local inhabitants and it remains so to this day in the dialect of the area.

I believe it is true to state, that without exception, the Definite Article (THE in English and Y in Welsh)  is used before Baran at all times - thus preventing in the Welsh language the B changing to F.
i.e. a double mutation taking place. Paran - Baran - Faran.

e.g Baran as an area 
Y BARAN
BRO MORGANNWG

Going to
MYND I'R BARAN
MYND I FRO MORGANNWG

e.g Baran as a chapel
 Y BARAN
 BETHESDA

Going to
MYND I'R BARAN
MYND I FETHESDA

 

The early years

The early worshippers of the Baran chapel would have lived within 4 to 5 miles of the chapel - an area which includes Mynydd y Gwair, the Betws, Garth, Gwrhyd, Gellionnen mountains and also the hamlets of Rhydyfro,  Craigcefnparc and Cwmgors.

Mainly tenant farmers and their servants together with the blacksmith, shoemaker, woollen / flour mill worker etc, they would have been God fearing, hard working, pious, Welsh speaking people. Land was owned by the few -mainly the landed gentry, but also industrialists who had moved in to develop the coal, iron and copper industries in the nearby valleys as well as some solicitors.

Although most people would have been poor, during the course of my family history research, probate records for the Diocese of St. David's reveal some of the farmers leaving wills.

Due to the remoteness of the area, the patronymic Welsh surname style remained in being until a much later date.

Around 1800 we find the English surname style being adopted but different families changed in a different manner and also at varying times:
e.g Surname JOHN could have remained JOHN or added an (S) to become JOHNS or even changed to JONES.
Surname HOPKIN could have remained HOPKIN or added an (S) to become HOPKINS.
Surname DAVID could have remained DAVID or changed to DAVIES.

The chapel flourished  in a time when nearby hamlets were.growing and daughter chapels were built at
Saron (Rhydyfro) 1843 and Pantycrwys ( Craigcefnparc ) 1866.

A theological training school

Surprisingly we have concrete evidence of the existence of a school under the Rev. Roger Howell at the Baran.

In the Congregational Year Book 1853, which lists all Independent ministers in Great Britain and most countries overseas, Y Baran is listed as the place of learning of some ministers. This confirms the existence of a theological school at the Baran, but whether it was a school for young children to learn the three R's is a matter of conjecture.

The following ministers were trained by the Rev. Roger Howell at the Baran:

Rev. Evan Watkins 1811 - 1879 b. Llwyncelyn, Rhiwfawr, Nr. Cwmllynfell.
Minister at:- Llanelli (Brecs.). Canaan (Foxhole, Swansea). Castle St. (Swansea). Bethel (Llansamlet). Llangattock (Brecs.).

Rev. William Williams 1807 - 1877 b. Glynneath.
Minister at:- Tredwstan (Brecs.). Brechfa (Brecs.). Nebo (Hirwaun).

Rev. Daniel Evans 1800 - 1884 b. Parish of Llangiwg. Son-in-law of Roger Howell
Minister at:- Llanybri (Carms.). Bethesda (Carms.). Nazareth (Pontyates). Ebenezer (Crwbin). Ramah (Carms.).

Rev. Richard Jones Minister at:- Talgarth (Brecs.).

Rev. Daniel Jones,
Minister at:- Neath, County of Bradford, Pennsylvania, U. S. A.
The Neath Welsh Congregational Church still exists but not the original church.
Rev. Daniel Jones was not from Tresgeirch but from Pentwyn farm (now derelict) in the Parish of Llangiwg.
Pentwyn farm was situated on the Garth mountain and is now part of Perthigwynion.
Rev. Daniel Jones returned to marry Mary Williams at Llangyfelach Church in December 1832, returning with his bride to America. Rev. Daniel Jones died a young man at the age of 42, his wife remarrying.

Why did they choose to name their settlement Neath?
Early census returns for the area and gravestone inscriptions might provide the answer. The minister that followed Daniel Jones in 1850 was the Rev. Samuel Williams (Llanidloes). Family history papers by the descendants of the Rev. Samuel Williams claim that the place is named Neath because his wife Jane Mills Williams was born in Neath, Wales, as were their children (i.e. the ones that were born in Wales). This information is incorrect. One has only to follow Rev. S. Williams' ministry from Llanidloes to Capel Isaac to Hendy (Llanedi), to find his marriage took place at Llanidloes and the children were born either in Montgomeryshire or Carmarthenshire.

The present day

During the second half of the 20th century, the Baran Chapel has witnessed a big ongoing change. Farming units have become much larger (three or four farms now forming one unit).  English speaking people have moved in to some farms and together with recent difficult conditions on the farming front, not to mention fewer and fewer people going to chapel, it is a wonder that the Baran chapel still survives. Membership has now dwindled to ten or so , a service is held on the first Sunday of the month in the afternoon; the September Thanksgiving Service being particularly well attended when numerous people journey back from afar to the service.

What does the future hold for the Baran?
Maybe the faithful ten or so members take comfort and hope in the words of the hymn by the Rev. John Thomas (1730-1803) Rhayader-on-Wye, who at one time kept a school at Rhydymardy which is now Brynteg chapel, Gorseinon.

"Dyro inni weld o'r newydd

Mae Ti, Arglwydd, yw ein rhan;

Aed dy bresenoldeb hyfryd

Gyda'th weision i bob man;

Tyrd i lawr, Arglwydd mawr

Rho dy fendith yma'n awr"

May we see anew

That Lord, you are our Saviour;

Your joyous presence journeying

With thy servants everywhere;

Descend great Lord and Give us here now your blessing

 

 

 

 

 



 

Capel y Baran

 

This is a Welsh only transcript of the booklet produced for the 200th anniversary of the founding of Baran chapel

The photographs which appear throughout are included separately

CAPEL Y BARAN

1805 - 2005

 

Rhagair

Stori bywyd yn ei amrywiol ddigwyddiadau ac yn ei holl gysylltiadau yw hanes ein stori ni ein hunain fel unigolion, a stori teulu neu gymuned neu fudiad neu gymdeithas neu genedl.

'Does fawr ddim a all fod yn fwy diddorol nag olrhain hanes, na'r un person â gwaith difyrrach na'r hanesydd cydwybodol wrth ddilyn trywydd gwrthrych ei ymchwil yn ôl i'w wraidd. Wrth gwrs gwreiddiau yw prif ddeunydd astudiaeth yr hanesydd ac mae dod o hyd i wreiddiau hanes unigolyn, teulu, mudiad, cymdeithas neu genedl yn golygu dyfal barhad diflino, amynedd di-ben-draw a thrylwyredd yn yr ymchwil am gywirdeb.

Mae pob unigolyn yn rhan o deulu a chynyddu a wna apêl a phoblogrwydd olrhain achau teuluol, a gwelir nifer cynyddol yn dysgu crefft yr hanesydd wrth wisgo ei fantell yn ei ymchwil.

I'r mwyafrif ohonom a berthyn i'r genhedlaeth hyn bu cymdeithas Crist yn fagwrfa i ni o'n blynyddoedd ifancaf ac mae stori bywyd cymaint ohonom fel unigolion yng nghlwm â'n cysylltiad ni â theulu'r ffydd. 'Does dim modd gwahanu'r naill oddiwrth y Hall. Dyma'r graig ein naddwyd ni ohoni ac mae'r hyn yr ydym wedi ei wreiddio yn y graig - yn rhan o'n hanfod ni.

Ar achlysur dathlu dwy ganrif sefydlu Achos Iesu yma cyhoeddir y llyfryn hwn yn croniclo'r hanes sydd ynghlwm â chapel y Baran. Mae cael y manylion wedi eu casglu yn gryno mewn llyfryn y gallwn gyfeirio ato'n gyson yn hwylustod, ac wrth ei ddarllen cael ein hysbrydoli gan ymroddiad a chadernid ffydd y rhai a agorodd ddrws yma gyntaf erioed i addoli Duw yng Nghrist, i dderbyn o'r Sacramentau ac ymdrwytho yn nysgeidiaeth yr Arglwydd.

Yr un cymhwysaf i gasglu deunydd llyfryn felly yw un a fagwyd yn y cylch ac a fu o'i ddyddiau ifancaf yn perthyn yn glos i holl fywyd yr eglwys hon. Ni ellid cael nemor neb yn cwrdd â chymhwyster felly yn well na'r brawd Eifion Walters. Magwyd ef yn yr Henryd ond er ymgartrefu ers blynyddoedd yn Rhydyfro a chael ei ethol yn ddiacon ac ysgrifennydd cyhoeddiadau y Tabernacl, Pontardawe mae ei ymlyniad at gapel y Baran a'i gyfraniad i'w bywyd yn parhau.

Mae gair difyr a chymwys gan Eifion yn wastad, ond 'dyw e byth yn ddifyrrach ei sgwrs na phan yn sôn am fynydd-dir y Baran gyda'i arferion a'i gymeriadau, a gwn fod casglu ffeithiau'r llyfryn hwn wedi bod yn foddhad iddo.

Fe ddaw boddhad hefyd i bawb â'i darllen ac yn enwedig i aelodau presennol y capel arbennig hwn ac i'r llu sydd â chysylltiadau agos ag e' ac atgofion cysegredig amdano.

Diolch am y gwahoddiad i ysgrifennu rhagair iddo a chyfle i gyd lawenhau yn y dathlu.

Watford Llewelyn
Gorffennaf, 2005

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Y BARAN

 

Dewch i'r Baran i ganu - dewch a ffrind
A chyffrous bydd dathlu,
A'r floedd wrth orfoleddu
Yma a gawn ger bedd mam-gu.

Nid hanes y ty yno - yn unig
A fynnwn ei gofio,
Er dwy ganrif o rifo,
Mae Un a gawn mwy nag o.

Tua'r Mount troi am antur, - am heddwch
A moddion i'n dolur;
Ac o geisio cawn gysur
I fwynhau y pethau pur.

Cofio'r Mount cofio'r menter - a didwyll
Dadau'n dweud eu pader,
Ac yn lliw y gannwyll wêr-
Ysbaid â Duw mewn gosber.

I'r Lluest ar frest y fro - ochr y coed,
A Chraig - Cwm o tano,
'Run fydd ein Duw, byw, tra bo
Oes o ddewis weddïo.

Cofio'r Tad, nid y tadau - a ddylem,
Nid addoli duwiau,
Llwm yw'r cwm - capeli'n cau
I'n Brenin yn y bryniau.

GWILYM HERBER

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Capel Paran 1805 - 2005

Braslun yn unig yw'r llyfryn hwn o hanes Eglwys Annibynnol Y Baran. Gwaetha'r modd mae llawer o'r hanes ar goll. Fe fyddai llawer o'r hyn sydd ar gael, sef rhestrau o'r aelodaeth a'u cyfraniadau at yr achos, er yn ddiddorol yn feichus i'w cynnwys yn y llyfryn hwn. Yn sicr i'r ymchwilydd dyfal erys llawer o hanes eto i'w ddarganfod.

Fe wyddom i sicrwydd fod addolwyr cyntaf y Baran wedi ymwahanu o'r hen eglwys ymneillduol yng Ngellionnen, pan ddaeth dysgeidiaeth yr Iseldirwr Jacob Arminius i aflonyddu'r gwersyll tua chwarter ola' y ddeunawfed ganrif, ac oherwydd bod yr eglwys yno, o dan arweiniad y Parchg Josiah Rees, yn tueddu at Arminiaeth neu Undodiaeth a phan ymunodd ei fab y Dr Thomas Rees, a oedd yn proffesi'n agored Undodiaeth, i'w gynorthwyo fe ddaeth pethau i'r pen. Gwrthwynebau carfan o'r addolwyr y syniad o Undodiaeth, ac o dan arweiniad Roger Howell, Nantymoel Uchaf a oedd yn Efengylwr Calfinaidd, ymwahanodd y garfan yma, y Trindodwyr (Trinitarian) o gapel Gellionnen a chwrdd i addoli yn ffermdy Llwynifan ar fynydd Carn Llechart, ac ymhen ychydig amser symudodd y gynulleidfa i addoli yng nghartref Roger Howell yn Nantymoel Uchaf.

Yn fuan wedi hyn fe roddwyd darn o dir ar ffin y ffarm gan John Howell a'i etifedd Roger Howell ar brydles o 999 o flynyddoedd ac ar ardreth o 5 swllt (coron) y flwyddyn i godi capel. Dyddiad y Les yw Hydref 1af, 1805 (gweler y maen a osodwyd tu fewn i'r capel yn cofnodi hyn). Ond fe gredir bod y capel wedi ei agor cyn hynny, oherwydd fe ordeiniwyd Roger Howell yn weinidog ar yr eglwys ar y 14eg o Fawrth, 1805.

Enwau'r ymddiriedolwyr cyntaf oedd -

David Howell, Cwmnant

Hopkin Evan Hopkins, Penlan

John Phillips, Trechwith

Hopkin Harri, Rhydyfro

Rees Thomas, Coedcaemawr

Harri Thomas, Rhydyfro

Phillip John, Trescyrch

Daniel John, Trescyrch

Thomas Thomas, Maestirmawr

Samuel Jones, Llwyndomen

Jenkin Jenkins, Cynghordyfach

 

Enwau'r diaconiaid cyntaf oedd -

Tomos John, Coedcaemawr

David Jones, Coedcaemawr

David Jones, Nantmelyn

Hopkin Jones, Tresgyrch

Arweinydd y gân cyntaf oedd - Mr Owen, Brynchwith.

Daeth yr addolwyr i'r cwrdd yn y Baran o ardal eang iawn, o Gwm Gerdinen, Llandremoruchaf, (Pontarddulais), Llwyngweno, Penwaunfach, Cynghordyfach, Cefnparc, Llwyndomen, Craig Trebanos, Alltwen, Clydach, Hendregaradog, Ynysmeudwy, Pentwyn, Blaenegel a'r Betws.

Erbyn y flwyddyn 1841 roedd 181 o aelodau yn yr eglwys.

Cyn dyddiau'r car arferai teuluoedd gadw'r gweinidog yn eu tro ar y Sul am fis (Cadw'r Mis). Parhaodd yr arferiad lletygar yma hyd ddiwedd pedwar degau'r ganrif ddiwethaf.

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Anodd efallai i lawer ohonom gredu heddiw fod y Baran yng nghyfnod Roger Howell yn ganolfan ddysg. Cadwodd ysgol ddiwinyddol yn ei gartref yn Nantymoel Uchaf. Fe welir cyfeiriad at hyn yn llawlyfr yr Annibynwyr am y flwyddyn 1853 lle enwir nifer o weinidogion a hyfforddwyd ganddo, gan gynnwys ei fab yng nghyfraith y Parchg Daniel Evans 1800-1884.

Fe adeiladwyd ysgoldy yng nghefn y capel (y festri heddiw) ac fe symudodd Roger Howell ei ysgol o Nantymoel Uchaf i'r adeilad newydd. Heb os, gwnaeth Roger Howell a'i deulu gyfraniad amhrisiadwy i'r achos yn y Baran. Dywed y Parchg Ddr Thomas Rees hyn amdano yn ei ail gyfrol o 'Hanes Annibynwyr Cymru', a gyhoeddwyd yn y flwyddyn 1870: ''Gadawodd Mr Howell, y gweinidog cyntaf ac un o sylfaenwyr yr achos, argraff ei dymer addfwyn a chariadus ar yr eglwys hon, fel na chlywyd un amser am unrhyw anghydfod na therfysg yma, parhaed yr un dymer Gristnogol i lywodraethu tra bydd carreg ar garreg o'r adeilad yn sefyll a dynion yn ymgynnull i'r lle. Gwnaeth ddaioni dirfawr yn ei ddydd yn ei ardal fynyddig, mae ei goffadwriaeth hyd y dydd heddiw yn barchus gan ugeiniau, ac mae crefydd yn parhau i ddal ei gafael yn ei hiliogaeth. ''

Ar fur allanol y capel gosododd yr Eglwys gofeb i'w dad-cu William John Rhydderch a fu fyw ar hyd ei oes yn Nantymoel Uchaf tan ei farw yn gant oed a fe'i claddwyd ym mynwent Gellionnen.

Preswyliodd teulu Roger Howell yn Nantymoel Uchaf am 274 o flynyddoedd, a phob cenhedlaeth yn ffyddlon i'r achos. Gweler rhestr o achau'r teulu a fu'r ffarm yn eu meddiant.

John William Rhydderch 1684 - 1784
Howell Roger1784 - 1801 (priododd Elisabeth Rhydderch)
Roger Howell (ap Roger) 1801 - 1842 (arweinydd cyntaf yr achos)
John Howell1842 - 1895
John Roberts1895 - 1921 (priododd Mary Jane Howell wyres Roger Howell)
William Price Roberts1921 - 1958
Aeth y ffarm allan o feddiant y teulu ym 1958.

Yn y blynyddoedd cynnar nid oedd harmoniwm yn y capel a phawb yn canu unsain, yn wahanol iawn i Gellionnen lle'r oedd côr a chyfeiliant cerddorfa ffidil a chlarinetau.

Pan ddaeth harmoniwm newydd i'r Baran cyfansoddwyd englyn at yr achlysur gan Ap Perllanog.

Yn y Baran mae'r gan ar gynnydd - yno
Mae harmoniwm newydd,
Wele ffawd i deulu ffydd,
A llais cryf er lles crefydd.

Yn ôl llyfr cownt am y flwyddyn 1938 fe dalwyd £11.00 am organ newydd. Gwnaeth teulu Hafod y Wennol gyfraniad mawr i gerddoriaeth yn y Baran, bu David Jones (Nantmelyn gynt) yn organydd am flynyddoedd, ac fe olynwyd gan ei chwaer Mrs Mary Jones, Hafod y Wennol, gwraig ffyddlon addfwyn a gyflawnodd ei gwaith gydag urddas am gyfnod o thua deugain mlynedd, a'i mab Mr Cyril Jones .........

5


............. yw'r organydd presennol. Fe brynwyd hefyd ar yr un adeg stove am £5.17s. i wresogi'r capel oddi wrth Tom Williams (yr efail) yn Rhydyfro.

Dros y can mlynedd cyntaf o'i hanes collodd yr Eglwys lawer iawn o'i haelodau wrth i eglwysi newydd gychwyn yn Saron Rhydyfro, Pantycrwys a chwm Clydach. Ond y golled fwyaf oedd yn 1831, pan ymfudodd tua hanner cant o aelodau gyda'i gilydd i Bennsylfania, a sefydlwyd eglwys yno a enwyd ''Carmel''. Galwodd yr eglwys un o ddisgyblion ifanc Roger Howell, sef Daniel Jones, Pentwyn, ar fynydd Y Garth, i fod yn weinidog arnynt, ac fe'i ordeiniwyd yn y Baran cyn iddo ymadael. Codwyd dau bregethwr arall yn ysgol y Baran a aeth i weinidogaethu yn yr Unol Daleithiau.

Yn y flwyddyn 1840 dirywiodd iechyd Roger Howell, ac oherwydd hyn fe roddodd yr eglwys alwad i'r Parchg Rhys Pryce, Cwmllynfell i gydweinidogaethu ag ef. Gwr galluog iawn oedd Mr Pryce, ysgrifennodd lyfr enwog 'Y Llusieiydd Teuluaidd' ac ar ôl marwolaeth y Parchg RogerHowell ar y nawfed ar hugain o Ebrill 1843, gofalodd am yr achos ei hunan, nes gadawodd, gyda hanner cant o'r aelodau, i ddechrau achos newydd yn Saron Rhydyfro.

Gwasanaethodd Roger Howell y Baran yn ffyddlon am 38 mlynedd, ac fe'i claddwyd ym mynwent y capel. Yr unig un o weinidogion y Baran i'w gladdu yno.

Wedi marw Roger Howell, parhaodd ei fab i addysgu hyd nes agorwyd ysgol newydd yn ysgoldy capel Saron Rhydyfro yn 1844 (The new British School).

Yn y flwyddyn 1844 galwodd yr eglwys y Parchg D. Davies, Cwmaman i weinidogaethu arnynt, a bu ef yno am bymtheg mlynedd, hyd nes iddo dderbyn galwad i ofalaeth yn Cross Inn (Rhydaman) yn 1859.

Dilynwyd D. Davies gan y Parchg T. Davies, Treforus, a ofalodd am yr achos am bron i 30 o flynyddoedd hyd y flwyddyn 1888.

Yn y flwyddôyn 1866, fe gollodd yr Eglwys lawer o'i haelodau eto pan sefydlwyd achos newydd ym Mhantycrwys, Craig Cefn Parc, ac ar ôl colli cymaint o aelodau i achosion newydd, syrthiodd rhif yr aelodau o 181 yn ei anterth i 65.

Ym 1890 derbyniodd y Parchg John Henry Davies alwad ac fe'i llys-enwyd ''Davies bach yr Haleliwia'' oherwydd ei hwyl a'i bregethu cyffrous. Gwasanaethodd Mr Davies yno am 26 o flynyddoedd tan ei farw annhymig yng ngaeaf 1916 mewn storm o eira. Wedi pregethu yn y Baran arhosodd noswaith yn ffarm Penlannau, cyn cychwyn trannoeth i ddal trên yn Rhydaman i fynd adref i Lanelli. Darganfuwyd ei gorff gan William Jones, Penlannau. Rhedodd William i gael cymorth gan Dafydd Jacob y Bryn.

6


Roedd Mr Davies yn 70 mlwydd oed ac fe wnaeth yr eglwys gasgliad i dalu am ei arch a gostiodd £8 10s.

Wedi'r digwyddiad trist yma dilynwyd Henry Davies, ym 1917, i'r ofalaeth gan y Parchg J. R. Price, Saron Rhydyfro. Bu'n weinidog ffyddlon am 14 mlynedd hyd nes i'w iechyd fethu.

Bu'r eglwys heb fugail tan 1940 pan ordeiniwyd Mr John James, o Danygraig, yn weinidog. Brodor o Wernogle, Sir Gaerfyrddin oedd Mr James ac uniaethodd yn hawdd â'r gymdeithas wledig a addolai yn y Baran. Gwasanaethodd yn ffyddlon tan ei farwolaeth sydyn ym 1963. Yn ei arwyl rhoddodd y Parchg E. Curig Davies deyrnged loyw iddo, gan gyfeirio ato fel ''gwron yr unigeddau''.

Wythnos drist iawn oedd hon yn hanes yr achos, oherwydd bu farw hefyd ar yr un diwrnod, Mr Tom Jacob, Twllygwyddil, diacon a thrysorydd ac aelod ffyddlon o'r eglwys, gwr unplyg a wasanaethodd yr achos yn dawel ac a fu fyw ei ffydd. Hefyd bu farw William Jones, Llechart Fawr, gynt o Benlannau, cyn arweinydd y gân a gwr a rhoddai fri ar emyn a phregeth.

Cymerodd y Parchg Robin Williams, Pantycrwys ofal o'r Eglwys am gyfnod, hyd y derbyniodd alwad i fod yn weinidog ar Eglwys Canaan, Maesteg.

Ar y 3ydd o Fedi 1964, sefydlwyd y Parchg Henry Jones, Danygraig, yn weinidog ar Baran. Bu farw Henry Jones yn 1974. Cofia'r Eglwys amdano fel gwr rhadlon a bugail gofalus o'i braidd.

Nid oes gweinidog wedi bod ar yr achos ers 1974, a dibynna'r gynulleidfa yn awr ar weinidogion a lleygwyr i arwain yr addoliad, ac i rannu'r sacrament yn fisol.

Gorwedd y capel nepell o safle neolithig (oes newydd y cerrig), a golygfa odidog yn ymestyn i Ddyfnaint a Chernyw. Nid oes unrhyw amheuaeth mae adeilad gwyngalchog oedd yn wreiddiol, ac mae'r heol sydd yn mynd heibio yn ymddangos ar fap Dr William Rees oddeutu'r flwyddyn 1400. Adeilad unllawr godwyd gyntaf, a llawer o debygrwydd i gapel Gellionnen ynddo, sef pulpud uchel a dwy ffenestr bob ochr, llawr cerrig, drws yn y talcen dwyreiniol, a lle tân yn y talcen gorllewinol, ac fe gofia rhai ohonom yr aelodau hynaf, yn sôn am yr arfer o newid lle yn dawel i dwymo, yn ystod y gwasanaeth. Mae sedd arbennig yno a'i chefn at y pulpud yn wynebu'r fan lle'r oedd y tân. Mewn copi o adroddiad y capel yn Ebrill 1881 o dan y pennawd ''Casgliad at y tân'' rhestrir cyfraniadau arbennig yr aelodau i brynu tanwydd. Casglwyd y swm o £1.1s.9c.

Yn adroddiad y capel am y flwyddyn 1869 mae 'na gofnod diddorol sef:

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Ionawr 1af, 1869

Cydwybod

Sarah Powell2/-
Thos. Davies Smith6c.
Thos. Jones Coedcaemawr 1/-
Wm. Williams Bryncethin 2/6
Wm. Williams Lletycrydd 1/-

Tybed beth oedd baich ''cydwybod'' y saint yma y rhoddwyd y cyfraniadau yma i'w lleddfu?

Roedd stabl yn arfer bod wrth wal orllewinol y capel. Ond cwympodd ers blynyddoedd, ond fe ddal ysgoldy Roger Howell i sefyll yn erbyn cefn yr adeilad, a llawr pridd oedd iddo yn wreiddiol.

Ehangwyd yr adeilad yn 1830, gan roi llofft ynddo, gyda grisiau cerrig allanol yn fynedfa.

Atgyweiriwyd llawer eto ar yr adeilad yn 1894, pan godwyd uchder y to a rhoi llechi newydd arno. Costiodd y gwaith yma £85.10.0d.

Fe atgyweiriwyd y capel yn sylweddol eto yn 1906, ar gost o £184.12.0d. Gosodwyd seddau newydd a rhoi sment ar y welydd allanol.

Bu Ilawer o ddryswch ynghylch enw'r capel. Tybia rhai ei fod wedi ei enwi ar ôl y mynydd, ond y mynydd a enwyd ar ôl y capel. Carn Llechart yw enw cywir y mynydd. Tybia eraill ei fod wedi ei enwi ar ôl ryw foneddiges o'r enw Bougham, o ochr Gwyr, a noddau yn ariannol achosion anghydffurfiol, nid oes unrhyw dystiolaeth o hyn. Mewn diweddariad o Hanes Annibynwyr Cymru a gyhoeddwyd ym 1891 dywed y Parchg Ddr. John Thomas, Lerpwl hyn: ''Paran mae yn debyg yw enw'r capel hwn yn briodol ondBaran y gelwir ef gan bawb''.

Nid oes unrhyw amheuaeth bellach mae ''PARAN'' yw enw'r capel, a'r enw yn treiglo ar lafar i ''Baran''. Mae'r enw yn ymddangos wyth gwaith yn yr Hen Destament, sef darn o'r anialwch lle bu'r Iddewon yn gwersylla ar ei ffordd i wlad yr Addewid, o ystyried rhuddin cymeriad ysbrydol sylfaenwyr yr achos yma, nid gweld y lle fel anialwch wnaethant. Gweld wnaeth y saint yma fel y Proffwyd Habacuc yn ei weddi fod:

Duw yn dyfod o Teman,
A'r sanctaidd o fynydd Paran
Y mae ei ogoniant yn gorchuddio'r nefoedd
A'i fawl yn llenwi'r ddaear
Y mae ei lewyrch fel y wawr,
A phelydrau'n fflachio o'i law
Ac yno y mae cuddfan ei nerth.

Dros gyfnod o tua hanner can mlynedd fe gynhaliwyd Eisteddfodau llwyddiannus iawn yn y capell, ac roedd te parti'r Baran yn enwog drwy'r ardal. Tyrrau pobl yn eu cannoedd o Garnswllt, Rhydaman, Cwmaman, Y Waun a Chwmtawe i fwynhau'r wledd oedd wedi ei pharatoi gan wragedd y ffermydd.

Erbyn heddiw wyth aelod sydd ar restr aelodau yr Eglwys, fe ddaw yn gyson nifer o gyfeillion ffyddlon hefyd i gydaddoli yn yr oedfaon, ac fe brofir o hyd ambell i oedfa ''Pen y Mynydd''.

8


Beth am y dyfodol? Duw a wyr!

Yn ei gerdd ''Aros a Mynd'' dywed Ceiriog:

Aros mae'r mynyddau mawr,
Rhuo trostyn mae y gwynt;
Clywir eto gyda'r wawr
Gân fugeiliaid megis cynt.
Eto tyf y llygad dydd
O gylch traed y graig a'r bryn,
Ond bugeiliaid newydd sydd
Ar yr hen fynyddoedd hyn.

Ar arferion Cymru gynt
Newydd ddaeth o rod i rod;
Mae cenhedlaeth wedi mynd
A chenhedlaeth wedi dod.

Gobeithiwn y daw eto i'r ardal genhedlaeth newydd a fydd yn gweld gwerth eu hetifeddiaeth ac yn barod i gynnal y weledigaeth a ffydd y saint yn y llecyn cysegredig hwn fel: ''Y cadwer i'r oesau a ddêl y glendid a fu''.

Diolch i'r Parchg Walford Llewelyn am ei barodrwydd i ysgrifennu rhagair i'r llyfryn yma, hefyd am ei gymorth a'i arweiniad doeth wrth i'r eglwys baratoi ar gyfer y dathliad pwysig yma. Hefyd i'r canlynol: Mr David Jenkins a Mr Islwyn Davies am drosglwyddo llawer o wybodaeth wrth baratoi'r llyfryn hwn. Diolch i Mr Owen Roberts, un o ddisgynyddion Roger Howell am wybodaeth deuluol, ac i'r bardd Gwilym Herber am gyfansoddi englynion ar gyfer y dathliad, hefyd i Mr Gareth Richards, Gwasg Morgannwg am ei hynawsedd a'i gymorth arferol.

9


Photographs

Please click on the page links to see the photograph(s) detailed there

  • Page 2 - Tudalen olaf un o bregethau's Parchg Roger Howell yn ei lawysgrifen
  • Page 6 -
    Y Parchedig John Henry Davies
    Y Parchedig J R Price
  • Page 7 -
    Y Parchedig John T James
    Y Parchedig Henry Jones
  • Page 9 - Er Coffadwriaeth Am Y Parch J T James
  • Page 10 -
    Capel y Baran heddiw
    Cofeb John William Rhydderch, tad-cu Roger Howell - tu allan
    Llechen yn dynodi les y capel - tu fewn
  • Page 11 -
    Cofeb Bessie Roberts
    Maen Goffadwriaeth Roger Howell
  • Page12 -
    Te parti yn y Baran, 1938
    Rhai o Addolwyr presennol y Baran