Lost stool made from remains of London’s oldest Welsh chapel rediscovered
Regina Motalib, Local Democracy Reporter
A stool made out of the remains of the oldest Welsh chapel in London has been rediscovered in Wales.
The astonishing history behind the stool was uncovered after its current owner, Ann Davis posted a photo of it on her Facebook page.
She had purchased it from a local antique store and was completely unaware of its origins.
The historic piece of furniture is now on its way back to Borough Chapel in Southwark Bridge Road.
Until she shared a photo featuring the stool on her Facebook page, its whereabouts had been a complete mystery. So much so, that BBC news presenter Huw Edwards, mentioned it in his book about London Welsh chapels.
The Dulwich based journalist – whose book entitled City Mission was published in 2014 – visited the borough chapel for his research.
He referred to the historic piece of furniture and remarked that the fate of the stool remained a mystery.
Mrs Ann Davies from Rhos on Sea, near Llandudno on the North Wales coast, bought the stool in a local antique shop in 2005 – it has been in her possession ever since.
The random photo on Facebook led to an unprecedented level of interest and she has generously agreed to donate the stool to the Borough Welsh Chapel.
Ann Davies described her joy at being able to return the historical stool she unknowingly purchased back to the chapel.
She explained: “I’m delighted that the stool will return home to where it originally came from and thrilled to have a lively relationship with this historical London place of worship.”
The original Welsh chapel in Wilderness Row, Clerkenwell, was founded in 1785.
It later split into other congregations including the Borough Welsh chapel in Southwark Bridge Road, which was established in 1806.
A London Welshman, D. R. Hughes from Colwyn Bay, discovered the decaying structure of the old chapel.
He took away a section of the joists as a souvenir and had it carved into a wooden stool.
It was inherited by his daughter and, after her death in 2001, offered to St. Fagans Museum of Folk Life, but turned down.
The chapel’s organist, John Jones explained how a remarkable coincidence means the stool will soon be transported safely back to the chapel, by one of its choristers.
He explained: “One of the Borough Chapel’s choir members, Rob Morgan Jones, who comes from Abergele, North Wales, is related to Mrs Ann Davies.
She has agreed to bring the stool back to London, where it will have pride of place at the Borough Chapel as a living reminder of its 18th-century origins.”
The Chapel have expressed their joy to have the stool back and intend to organise a major event to commemorate the rediscovery.
John Jones added: “This is an enormously important relic of London Welsh heritage that was believed to have been lost. I am thrilled that it has been found.
We are very pleased and look forward to celebrating this remarkable occurrence, which is so important to our chapel’s heritage, at a concert later this year.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.
It’s not called Rhos on Sea. I’m usually OK with places having different names in different languages, but this is one of the ‘makey-uppy so as not to scare holiday makers’ exceptions.