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On past the War Memorial, on the left you’ll pass a neo-classical Methodist chapel that together with adjacent buildings forms a cultural centre - the Tabernacle, built in 1806.

The Machynlleth Borough Guide describes the Tabernacle as ‘a handsome and commodious structure.’ It is now home to the Museum of Modern Art Wales, housing a permanent art collection as well as hosting a sequence of exhibitions. The restored, galleried chapel functions as a performance space, with the original pews for seating.

It was during the eighteenth-century that nonconformity was established in the town, though not without opposition. Howell Harris of Trefecca visited the town to preach in 1740 and wrote – ‘one could see fury in every face... ye Mob enraged and did fling stones, earth and old Bones’.

This hostile attitude towards dissenters continued. On visiting the town in 1753, John Thomas of Rhayder visited the town – ‘someone shouted here comes the Methodist minister and hundreds gathered around us and pelted us with the dung of the road. A friend went to the constable’s house to report that we were not having a peaceful passage thro’ the town: his wife answered the door and said that he was not at home, and accused us of reviling the faith of the church and the faith of our fathers and forefathers and told us to go about our business...’

It was not until the 1770s that the town’s Methodists could worship openly. The Calvinistic Methodists were the most numerous and influential. There were also Independents, Baptists and Wesleyan Methodists, all meeting to worship in Welsh.

In 1851, when as census of chapels and churches was compiled, the minister was recorded as John Hubert and attendance as 80 scholars in the morning, 160 in the afternoon and 300 in the evening.

To see a view of the interior of the chapel in use as a concert venue, follow this link:

To see an historic view of Heol Penyrallt taken before the War Memorial was built, follow this link:

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