Powys has a long history of rioting.

While most took place in the 1800s, charged by political unrest, the county was no stranger to religious protest long before then.

Reminders of these events remain hidden in plain sight in our towns and villages.

Pendref Chapel in Llanfyllin is one such place that was the scene of great violence and destruction in 1715.

This had been a time of great religious upheaval across the country following the death of Queen Anne in 1714.

Tensions had reached fever pitch as supporters of James Stuart rebelled in a bid to regain the thrones of England, Ireland and Scotland for the exiled Stuarts.

The Stuart kings had been excluded from the British line of succession following the Glorious Revolution in 1688 and in 1701 the Act of Union had enshrined no Catholic would ever take the throne again.

Britain had been at war with the French and Spanish from 1701 until 1714 when the French accepted Protestant rule for Britain under the terms that ended the conflict.

However, this meant abandoning the cause of the Stuarts who returned to Britain to rouse a rebellion among their Catholic supporters.

And so began the Jacobite Rising of 1715.

Llanfyllin had seen its own troubles that year that would lead to ever-lasting consequences, changing the fate of the town forever.

While the Jacobite cause had sparked the trouble, it is thought the three days of destruction in Llanfyllin was really a hangover from the English Civil War.

The main instigator had been Adam Pryce, a powerful man in Montgomeryshire and part of the Pryce family of Newtown Hall.

As a staunch Royalist, he had seen tensions between the church and dissenters manifest across the county since the death of Queen Anne and stirred locals to action.

Pendref Chapel had only been built in 1708, but over the course of three days it was laid to ruin by a 'tumultuous and rebellious Tory instigated mob' in July 1715.

Nine of the rioters were indicted at the next Assizes, but their fate is unknown while damages of £143 were given towards the rebuilding of the chapel.

As a result of the lack of law and order in Llanfyllin, the assizes were moved to Welshpool after the meeting, with Llanfyllin losing its status as an administrative centre.

The chapel was rebuilt in 1717 and would become one of the most important and popular places of worship in the county.

Among its congregation was Ann Griffiths who was baptised in the chapel in 1796 and would become one of Wales' most renowned poets and hymn writers.

By 1828 the chapel was too small to house its parishioners and was rebuilt for a third time on the same site.

Its many rebuilds and eventful history has ensured the chapel is unique among independent chapels in Wales.

Above the pulpit is a plaque to commemorate the life of Rev’d Susannah Rankin who attended Pendref Chapel as a child and went on be the first female student to gain a Bachelor of Divinity from the University of Wales.

In 1925, she was ordained a minister at Pendref Chapel and the following year left for Papua New Guinea to work as a missionary. As well as church work, she was a linguist and translator.

She was known as Sinabada - meaning 'Big Mother' - in spite of being five feet tall and remained in Papua New Guinea for almost half a century.

She was awarded an honorary MA by the University of Wales and was made MBE in 1972 and died in 1989.

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