KNIGHTON (Norton Street)
In 1833 an unnamed woman who kept a school in Knighton opened her cottage so that Baptist believers might meet there for worship. Her home, which has since been demolished, was at the back of the Knighton Hotel, then known as New Inn. Services were led by Rev James Jones of Rock Baptist Chapel, Jacob Price, and Thomas Harvard, who later became Pastor of Maesyrhelem Chapel.
After two years a meeting was held in the old Town Hall, where the town clock now stands. Shortly after this W S Mayo, who was a prominent Radnorshire Baptist, held meetings in his home. Meetings were held subsequently in various other places but the hyper-Calvinist views of Mr. Mayo divided the congregation.
William Davies, who had helped begin the work at Gravel, then made his home available for services. In 1858 Rev T L Davies of Presteigne came over to Knighton to preach and baptize several people in the River Teme. He formed the Knighton Baptist Church at in 1860. The church was served by visiting preachers including Thomas Jones of Bettws-y-Crwyn, the son of James Jones of Rock. A chapel was built in Norton Street and this was opened on 29 September 1865.
In October 1873 two evangelists came to Knighton from Bristol to conduct evangelistic services in the different chapels in the town. As a result twenty-three people were baptised by Rev James Williams of Evenjobb. Rev James Gray of Coxall took part in the service and afterwards he became the pastor of the church.Between 1865 and 1878 the church had five pastors, but in that year stability to the young church was provided by the forty-one year pastorate of William Williams, who remained in office until 1919. Just before being call as pastor of Knighton he founded a branch church at Knucklas. During his pastorate a site for a new chapel was acquired in the lower part of the town near Station Road. It was probably the unwillingness or inability of the church members to build a new chapel that led to the formation of another Baptist church in Victoria Road.
KNIGHTON (Victoria Road)The Baptist Church in Victoria Road was built in 1904 following a disagreement at Norton Street Church. A number of Baptist believers met together and by 1908 there was a total membership at the Church of 78 adults with 100 children attending the Sunday school. The first minister, Rev Thomas Rhys Broad, was appointed in 1915. However, the church did not last and the church was closed and the building was sold to the Council for use as a Community Centre. In 1986 the Methodist Church at Knighton was in need of a replacement building and they acquired the building from the Council and it is now Knighton Methodist Church.
A record of the history of this Church is to be found in Church Book, which dates from 1871 and reads:
Soon after this a granary was converted into a Meeting Room where a few friends met together for public worship, having a sermon, sometimes two, preached every Sunday by preachers from Knighton. This continued until April 1870 with good attendance and then Rev J H Wait supplied the pulpit and the church agreed to pay him £10 a year for his services. The church counts its formation from this date.
"Mr Thomas Rogers, having with his wife settled at Coxall Farm opened their doors for the preaching of the Gospel 29th September 1865 when a sermon was preached by Rev J Smith, Pontesbury."
William Smith, a local farmer, gave land for building a chapel on the road between Bucknell and Bedstone and the foundation stone of the chapel was laid on 6 June 1871. The building was opened for worship 2 January 1872. Later a Sunday School was also opened.
In August 1878 William Williams became pastor of the Knighton church and the Coxall church requested that he should become their pastor as well. The Knighton church agreed and this arrangement has continued until the present day.
The church was affected by the Welsh Revival of 1904-1906. A newspaper cutting from 1906 describes mission meetings held at Coxall conducted by Miss Roberts, one of Evan Roberts' missioners:
A further newspaper cutting relates,
"Miss Richards from 31 January to 7 February inclusive conducted a week's mission. The Chapel was crowded every night and splendid results have followed, thirty-six have decided to follow Christ."
"A Baptismal service was held on Sunday 1 April, when the pastor, Rev Williams, baptised seventeen candidates in the presence of a very large congregation, many not being able to be to gain admittance. The service was a very impressive one and several more candidates are waiting to be baptised on 16 May."
[To be continued...]