[All photos by Becky Bridge]
Breaking News : Here’s our daughter Becky with the keys to Capel Dewi Chapel, Ceredigion.
When the work renovating/converting the chapel and attached cottage is sufficiently advanced, Becky and her partner Bob will move in, and then finish off the work.
They first saw the place – and submitted an offer that was accepted – last summer : it has taken all this time – nearly nine months! – for legal complications to be unpicked and the legal niceties completed.
Their patience has been sorely tried!
Ceredigion is a large county in the west of Wales, and the main town is Aberystwyth. Capel is Welsh for chapel, Dewi is the name of a celtic christian saint, so there must have been a chapel of some sort thereabouts since ancient times.
The Welsh have many non-conformist protestant denominations, all in decline, so there are many many chapels that have been declared redundant and have been put up for sale by the relevant church council. There are many that have been bought, and converted to residential or, less commonly, commercial uses. Conversion is usually a challenging project : due to constraints of the building itself ; due to constraints imposed by the church organisation by means of covenants ; and constraints imposed by the planning authority on account of the building having historical or architectural merit or the significance – cultural, aesthetic – in the local community and landscape.
Many of these chapels never attract buyers : the Welsh countryside is littered with many many chapels simply falling into ruins.
Becky and Bob are fortunate that their chapel (which in its present form dates from the late 19thC) had only relatively recently been declared redundant and put up for sale, and still has many interesting features still intact – including the pulpit and most of the pews. They have a great deal of work ahead of them, most of which they will have to do themselves. The chapel has been disused for a few years – and neglected for many years before that. The cottage is completely uninhabitable – the interior is gutted. There is an electricity supply, but nothing beyond the meter. There’s a water supply to an outside tap – but nothing indoors. There’s no drainage, and unsurprisingly no phone line. Yet, there are no great obstacles to the work ahead of them, other than a very tight budget! The cottage is small – but will be perfect for the two of them. The chapel is huge : that will be their photography studio and crafts workshop.
One of Becky’s great photographic interests in recent years has been derelict farms high up in the hills of Wales. Here’s one of her very recent discoveries. Becky keeps the locations secret.