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not have been requisite unless the country were well peopled. From what has been already written, it will appear that the definition of “church” has been considered to be a place of worship endowed with tithes. A “chapel,” on the contrary, is considered to be a place of worship without any such endowment. It has been already stated that chapels are of later erection than the churches to which they are subject. Some of them are ancient; and an attempt will be made to form such a classification of them as will assist in determining generally the eras in which they were built.
Parochial Chapels are considered to be the most ancient, being a necessary consequence of the great extent of the district assigned to the mother church, which was soon found insufficient for the instruction of people spread over so wide a territory. There is reason for supposing that chapels of this description are coeval with churches of the intermediate foundation. They were erected before the division of the country into parishes as at present constituted, for such a subdivision of the older districts could have been of no utility unless chapels were already built; and the existence of these places of worship, which at first were only chapels of ease, suggested the division for the sake of convenience.
Between Parochial Chapels and Chapels of Ease there was at first no distinction, but the latter are now known from the circumstance that they have no separate districts assigned them, being always situate in the same parish as the mother church. As a general rule, these chapels are of later erection than the former, being the result of a demand for an increased supply of places of worship. They belong to a time when the boundaries of parishes were so far permanently settled that it was not expedient to disturb them.
There is reason, however, to believe that the Normans and Flemings, wherever they made their settlements, converted such chapels as they found in the country into separate benefices. But they also built many churches in addition,
making a new distribution of parishes. Thus the Rectories in the Deaneries of Rhos and Castlemartin, Pembrokeshire; in the peninsula of Gower, and the Vale of Glamorgan, average at about half the extent of parochial chapelries in most of the other districts of Wales. This distribution, however, belongs to a period in which so much information may be collected from history, as will serve to distinguish the older churches from their more modern neighbours.
There are also other Chapels, which do not appear to have been used for the purposes of public, or congregational worship; such as Cells, Oratories, and Hermitages, where prayers and offerings were made in private. They are sometimes distinguished from public churches by their situation, either in the solitude of an island, or promontory, over the well of a favourite Saint, or adjoining to a church where provision was already made for public worship; and were so small that they could contain but few persons. They may also be distinguished by their present state, being all of them in ruin, and the situations of most of them are known only by tradition. Being of no use as public churches, and the offerings to them ceasing, they were suffered to fall to decay soon after the Reformation. Nearly all parochial chapels, inasmuch as they are repaired at the cost of their respective parishes, have been preserved entire to the present time. Several chapels of ease, however, for want of a similar provision, have become ruinated, and in some
cases their situation is almost forgotten; yet the names of most of them may be recovered from various ecclesiastical documents and editions of the “Liber Regis.”
In treating of the Saints, it is intended to give such notices of cells, and oratories, as may be supplied from the vague information which remains respecting them. If there were any small chapels of this description in ancient times, the veneration attached to them would suggest their enlargement into churches or parochial chapels, whenever a demand might be made for an increased number of public places of worship; unless their situations were such as to render the change useless or impracticable.* It may be presumed that the earliest oratories, founded after the final settlement of parishes, were frequently converted into chapels of ease; and while it is the tendency of ecclesiastical establishments gradually to rise in importance,t it may be concluded that those, which as a class have remained in the lowest rank, were the latest. Chapels erected over wells owe their origin to the superstition of the middle ages, and those which are contiguous to a larger church, or cathedral, have their antiquity limited by the date of the fabric to which they are adjoined.
At this stage of proceeding, it will be proper to observe that the Welsh word “Llan” was at first applied to churches and chapels indiscriminately; in determining the antiquity of chapels, it may be considered that such as have their names compounded with this word are of the old nd. The word “Capel” appears to be of subsequent introduction, as it is seldom attached to the names of parochial chapels, but applied principally to chapels of ease and decayed oratories. Another designation applied to chapels in Wales is “Bettws ;” and though several places so named have been formed into independent benefices, there are proofs remaining sufficient to show that they were originally subject to other churches in their neighbourhood. Sometimes the two latter appellations are used together, as Capel Bettws Lleicu, Cardiganshire, and Capel Bettws, subject to Trelech, Carmarthenshire.*
* The exception applies principally to cells said to have been founded by the primitive Christians of Wales in certain small islands, to which they retired for the sake of security.
* This observation, though intended to apply to churches and chapels, is also true of monastic institutions; Priories, being of later foundation than Abbeys, remained unequal to them in revenues and importance : it may also be noticed that the relationship subsisting between a superior convent and its cells is in some degree analogous to that between a church and its chapels.
Great stress has been laid upon parochial divisions, for the reason that they determine the comparative antiquity of the churches to which they belong. The idea that parishes in Wales were established by a general Act of the Legislature can never be maintained. Without entering further into the question, it is sufficient to say that they existed in the times of of Welsh independency, when no Acts of the English Parliament could affect them; and the Welsh annals record no ordinance for their arrangement, which in the state of the country, divided between contending Princes, was almost impossible. Their establishment was gradual, and their limits were determined by the territory of the person who endowed each church with tithes. This is the only way to account for their unequal extent, and the inconvenience of their distribution. A chieftain might divide his lands between his his sons, and this arrangement might form some criterion for the division of an endowment of the first class into parochial chapelries; but he could make no partition of the tithes, for as they had been already given away, they were no longer in his power; and it rested with the ministert of the mother church to make his own arrangements with the curates of the chapelries.
Property in Wales descended by the law of Gavelkind,
* Llan appears to be indigenous in the Welsh language, meaning not only the church, but the sacred spot which surrounds it, and in this sense it corresponds with the Greek word “teuevos.” The idea of “ closure" is also observable in its compounds, gwinllan, perllan, corlan, ydlan, &c. Capel is derived from “Capella,” a Latin word of modern invention. The derivation of Bettws is uncertain. Qu. from the AngloSaxon—“Bead-house."
+ Giraldus Cambrensis does not inform us by what scale the tithes were divided between a plurality of Rectors, but he loudly declaims against the whole system as an abuse.
which ordained that sons should inherit their father's territory in equal proportions. Such was the theory of the institution, but in practice it was very defective. Feuds always arose about the distribution. Might would overcome right, and as a necessary consequence the divisions were very unequal, and sometimes intermixed with each other. Tracts of country may therefore be found, where the church appears to have been endowed when affairs were in the state described. In the Rural Deanery of Maelienydd in the county of Radnor, which contained the districts of Nantmel, Llanbister, and Llangynllo, the division was regular; but it was otherwise in the Deanery of Builth in the county of Brecon. In the latter, the district of Llanafan includes the continuous parishes of Llanafan Fawr, Llanfechan, Llanfihangel Bryn Pabûan, and Llanfihangel Abergwesin; and also the parish of Alltmawr, which is separated from the others by the intervening parishes of Llanddewi'r Cwm and Builth. The district of Llangammarch includes the parishes of Llangammarch, Llanwrtyd, and Llanddewi Abergwesin, and there is reason to suspect that Llanddulas ought to be added to the number. But what is more surprising, there is documentary evidence* to prove that it formerly included the extensive parish of Llansanffraid Cwmmwd Deuddwrt though
* The authority alluded to is the “Valor Ecclesiasticus” of Henry VIII. under the heads of “Llangammarch” and “ Llanseyntffrede.” The connexion is also proved by another authority more ancient; in a Deed of Agreement with the Abbey of Strata Florida, to which the Chapter of Aberg willy was a party, dated March 21, 1339, mention is made of the Prebendary of “ Llangammarch Readr” alluding to the town of Rhayader, in a suburb of which the church of Llansanffraid is situated.
+ The name “Cwmmwd Deuddwr” is restored from a passage in the Valor Ecclesiasticus, where it is said to be a part of the possessions of Strata Florida. (See also the enumeration of parishes in the second Vol. of the Myvyrian Archaiology. It is now generally written “Cwm y Toyddwr."