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History of Brechfa Church from
 ' Teulu Teilo'
by Bob Lenny and Patrick Thomas

 

12. Thomas Jones Facing the 20th Century

David Morris Jones and his wife had been very highly thought of in Brechfa. His sudden death had been a great shock for the whole community. Stepping into the shoes of such a popular parish priest was an unenviable task. Thomas Jones was inducted as the new Rector in January 1896. He had trained for the ministry at St Bees College and had been ordained at Bangor Cathedral in 1877. After serving curacies in North Wales and Pembrokeshire he was Curate of Llanllwch and Chaplain to St David's Hospital, Carmarthen, at the time of his appointment to Brechfa. Although it is said that he had to face quite considerable hostility when he first arrived in the parish, he soon won the affection of his parishioners and by the end of his time in Brechfa 'yr hen Domos Jones' was as well-loved and respected as his predecessor.

He was an enthusiastic fisherman, and stories are told about his wife having to ring the church bell furiously to bring him back from the river-bank in time for Evensong. He also tried his hand at versifying, providing the words for 'Rhaid Rhedeg am y Goron,' one of the anthems written by the Brechfa composer John Owen, Felin Fforest:

Bydd gan yr lesu goron,
 I'w gosod ar ein pen,
 
Os cawn ni fyned ato,
I mewn i'r nefoedd wen,
 
Rhaid rhedeg am y goron,
Hen goron fawr y nef,
Hen goron lesu ydyw,
I bawb a'i carant Ef.

Rhaid rhedeg am y goron,
Sydd yn y nef ini,
Rhaid rhedeg am y goron,
 
Mae nerth y nef o'n tu.

Mae gan yr lesu goron,
Nid coron ddrain yw hi,
Nid coron brenin daear,
Fu gynt o uchel fri;
Na, coron yw a bery,
 Tra'r nefoedd wen yn bod,
Hen goron fawr y bywyd,
Yw enw hon erioed.

O na foed neb sydd yma,
Yn eisieu yn y nef,
 Ond rhedwn bawb yr yrfa
Sy'n arwain atto Ef;
Ac yno ni gawn goron,
Gogoniant ar ein pen,
 A moli Duw'n dragwyddol,
 Heb gwmwl ac heb len.'

In 1900 Brechfa Church was in a fairly flourishing condition. There were two services in Welsh every Sunday with an average congregation of 45 in the morning and 65 in the evening. 15 children came to classes in the week, while about 30 people attended the monthly preparation for Communion. Thomas Jones described the latter meeting as follows:

'We have a special week day meeting for Communicants before Holy Communion Sunday & I give an address. Some of the Communicants themselves are invited to speak.'

Those who did not come to church went to chapel instead. The Rector reported that 'Only one parishioner does not attend any place of worship.' Nevertheless there were signs that even in Brechfa society was beginning to change. Thomas Jones noted a recent deterioration in Sunday observance:

' ...the younger generation is inclined to look upon it as a day of pleasure -I am afraid that this is a growing tendency. Worldly pleasure - Visiting friends &c Bicycling etc.'

He was deeply conscious of the need for a church hall in Brechfa. In August 1900 he wrote that 'The old Parish Church is still standing within a short distance of the New one but is hardly ever used.' Attempts to convert it into 'a Parish Room which is so badly wanted' had proved 'abortive'. At a Vestry meeting in July 1906 it was therefore decided to pull the old St Teilo's down and use the materials from it to build a church hall. The memorial tablets were to be moved from the old church to the new St Teilo's. The plan was approved by the Diocesan authorities and Brechfa

Church Hall was built. It was opened in March 1910. John William Gwynne-Hughes of Tregib, the squire who had so generously donated the land for die building of the new church and the extension of the churchyard, died in January 1917. His wife Beatrice Gwynne-Hughes and their daughter Victoria Phllipps gave a beautiful stained glass east window to StTeilo's Church in his memory. It depicts the risen Christ, St Teilo and St John the Baptist. The face of St Teilo was modelled on that of the great Welsh hymn writer William Williams, Pantycelyn. He is shown holding a bishop's crazier and the Gospels of St Teilo. After the Fast World War the triple bell-cote was finally filled. It already contained the bell from the old church and a bell specially made for the new church. To these was added the bell from the Chemical Works or 'Gwaith Oel' which provided work for many of the people of Brechfa from the mid-nineteenth century up to the end of the First World War.

The Sunday School played an important part in the life of the church at this time. It had 99 members on the books in 1916, 95 in 1917 and 79 in 1918. They were divided into seven classes, each with its own teacher. Class leaders in this period were the Rector, David Davies, Tom Lewis, Alfred Thomas, Miss Jones, Miss Evans, Harry Lewis, Ben Thomas and Isaac Davies. One of Mr Tim Lewis' earliest memories is of being given a toffee at the end of Sunday School by his teacher, Mrs Jones, The Rectory. In 1912 St Teito's Church became bilingual. Prior to that time there was no need to cater for non-Welsh speakers. In 1880 the assistant curate had informed the Bishop that 'I do not know of any English' in Brechfa Parish.