Newtown Mountain

another vanished chapel

In the 1870s there was a Primitive Methodist chapel in the hamlet where squatters dwelt on Newtown Mountain above Penycae. It is impossible now to locate the ruins of the building, as the area has been densely covered with a plantation. George Borrow happened across the hamlet in 1854, as related in Wild Wales Chapter LXI. According to Ifor Edwards in Country Quest, August 1989 (pages 16-7), the 1851 population census records fifteen cottages inhabited by colliers and labourers. Remains of the hamlet were still visible in 1962. By 1871, according to the Evening Leader (6th June 2009, pages 14-5), the community was significantly depleted, with many of the remaining residents being single women and elderly men. An article by “Aradrwr” on page 28 of The Leader of 8th December 2009, says that the squatters came from North Wales, Shropshire and Chester to work in the coal mines, whilst the Route 9 leaflet of Walks around Wrexham says they worked in the coal pits and sandstone quarries. Aradrwr adds that the remains of the Methodist Cyntefig chapel were visible in 1962: cyntefig is Welsh for Primitive. Further confirmation that the chapel was Primitive Methodist comes from an article by Ifor Edwards in the August 1989 issue of Country Quest (pages 16-7). A Chester Plan for 1865 gives “Newtown” with Minera, Rhosllanerchrugog and Rhostyllen, and it is presumably a reference to this hamlet.

The ruins of the hamlet are in the trees in the photographs, but all that can now be seen along the remaining paths in the dense plantation are a few fragments of broken down walls.

Comments about this page

  • I have discovered a lot more about this chapel and about the Calvinistic Methodist chapel further up the mountain since this post. Most of what I have learnt is in my book “Primitive Methodism in North Wales”, available from me or the publisher (Tentmaker, Stoke-on-Trent).

    By David Young (24/08/2019)
  • “Newtown Mountain”

    On Whit Monday a tea meeting was held in the Primitive Methodist chapel, Newtown (the mountain), three miles distant from Ruabon. The wild precipices, the rough houses, the uncultivated people, and the unfinished chapel (all of which reminded us of the days of yore) attracted a large assembly to the rustic scene. At half past four about 140 gathered round the social board, and did ample justice to the rich and abundant fare provided for them. After tea, a public meeting was held, and addresses delivered by Messrs Stacey, Jones, and Miss Bennett.

    Wrexham and Denbighshire Advertiser, 30.5.1863 (page 8)

    By David Young (24/05/2017)
  • It should be noted that part of the city of Chester is also called Newtown. It appears in the Chester Primitive Methodist archives and contains George Street, where the chapel was built that replaced the Steam Mill Street chapel. Therefore, although some of the references to “Newtown” seem to be to the hamlet near Penycae and Rhosllanerchrugog, it may not always be possible to be sure which Newtown is meant in the old records.

    By David Young (04/04/2017)

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