The Hall was originally built as a substantial two storey stone building – perhaps a wool warehouse – in the 17th or early 18th century. This building was thought to have been demolished, but removal of cement render on the rear wall shows the original building survives intact. This wall holds the key to the buildings development. The building lies on the eastern edge of the medieval town, adjacent to one of the medieval gates and the town’s defences.
In 1779 the hall was converted into a Welsh Chapel and recording during renovation of the floor of the hall has revealed the layout of the pews in the chapel. A recent amazing find is a stack of Welsh Bibles dating to the early 19th century walled up in blocked window. The chapel continued in use to 1873 when a new, larger chapel, was built on China Street and the old chapel sold.
In 1898 the English Chapel (next door) purchased the old Welsh Chapel and converted it into a social centre with a large stage added on the frontage and with new seating for up to 900 people. The building was sold in 1932, eventually becoming Benbows Ironmonger.
The rear of the hall (a 1970s extension) now houses the Hanging Gardens Cafe and Community Space. The first stage of restoring this beautiful space, has seen it now open to the public as a community performance space
15 June 1844 – 10 November 193
In December 1912 Bethel Hall hosted a "Votes for Women" meeting at Bethel Hall to hear the guest speaker Charlotte Despard, who was one of the leading suffragettes, state the case for 'Women's Suffrage'.
For a fascinating insight into a little of
Bethel Hall's past click here
(This article was originally published in 2014 by Pencambria.co.uk)