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Description

Portrait of Gwilym Marles.

In 1876 the chapel at Llwynrhydowen was the scene of a national scandal when the congregation and its minister William Thomas (also known as Gwilym Marles) were evicted by the local landlord, John Lloyd of Alltyrodyn.

Lloyd cited their ‘radical’ non Tory, Unitarian ideologies as a breach of their lease. After the closure, the popular minister addressed an outdoor congregation of about 3000, with his back to the locked and chained chapel.

Due to the national interest prompted by the eviction, a fundraising campaign saw a new chapel created, but after the death of Lloyd his sister had the building returned to the congregation.

Unfortunately by this time, Gwilym was in ill health and died before he was able to attend the opening ceremony of the new chapel. His remains were laid at the new chapel and it was subsequently dedicated to his memory.

Gwilym Marles is also significant as the great uncle of the poet, Dylan Thomas. It is even suggested that the scandalously evicted minister was the influence for Thomas’s Reverend Eli Jenkins in the play, Under Milk Wood.

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