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Howells' renovation exposes 200-year-old chapel

A 200-year-old chapel hidden inside a Cardiff department store can be seen from the streets outside for the first time in more than 50 years.


Bethany Baptist Chapel has been exposed by the destruction of a wall in the Howells building


A 200-year-old chapel hidden inside a Cardiff department store can be seen from the streets outside for the first time in more than 50 years.

It comes after House of Fraser, originally opened as Howells in 1867, closed its doors for the final time in March.

Redevelopment work worth £100m has started on the Grade II-listed building.

Plans include the creation of a rooftop terrace and space for food and beverage, office, retail or community use.


Bethany Particular Baptist Chapel was built in 1807 (Getty images)


Bethany Particular Baptist Chapel was first built in 1807 on St Mary Street in Cardiff city centre.

It was rebuilt in 1821-1827 and it was enlarged in 1840.

The chapel was rebuilt again in 1865 to the design of John Hartland of Cardiff.


Howells department store was built around the chapel


As the city began to grow and expand, access to the chapel became difficult as it was surrounded by commercial buildings.

In 1867 Howells opened its doors, and four years later the landmark department store had engulfed the chapel.

In 1965 its congregation moved to premises in Rhiwbina.


The chapel was a large building on a gable-entry plan, seating around 950 people with a Sunday school to the rear and surrounded by burial grounds.

It was built using coursed multicolour rubble with lighter stone dressings and slate roofs.


Howells store kept many of the chapel's original features such as the lower front arches, memorial plaque, the balcony arcade and the cast-iron pillars.

After trading for more than 150 years the store it shut its doors in March, 2023, after originally being set to close in 2018 when owners House of Fraser first announced plans to leave Wales.

Redevelopment work worth £100m has started on the Howells building


Thackeray Group has acquired the Grade II-listed building and is set to spend £100m redeveloping it.

The plans include the creation of a rooftop terrace, which the company said "will suit a variety of different uses from F&B (food and beverage), office, retail or community use".

A former worker said she hoped the renovation work would be sympathetic to the unique architecture of the chapel.


Source: bbc.co.uk

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