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The present Ceredigion Circuit is English-speaking. However, its history is closely bound up with Welsh-speaking Methodism in the county.

Welsh-speaking Methodism

John Wesley paid only three very brief visits to Ceredigion (then known as Cardiganshire) and did not form any society (congregation) here. Since most of the inhabitants were monoglot Welsh speakers it would have been difficult for him to make any significant impact. However, in 1800 the Wesleyan Methodist Conference agreed to send Welsh-speaking ‘missionaries’ to Wales. In 1804 preachers visited Aberystwyth and a society was formed in 1805. By 1811 there were eight Welsh-speaking Wesleyan Methodist chapels in the county. The work flourished throughout the nineteenth century with membership reaching a peak of 1264 during the 1859 Revival. By 1900 there were four Welsh-speaking Circuits, based on Aberystwyth, Lampeter, Ystumtuen and Aberaeron, with a total membership of almost 1200. This increased briefly during the 1904-5 Revival but has declined steadily since 1910. There are now only four small Welsh-speaking Methodist congregations in the county.

English-speaking Methodism

The growth of English Methodism in Ceredigion dates from the 1840s onwards. Increased mobility and the development of the lead mining industry in the north of the county brought in visitors and workers from outside Wales. The prohibition of the use of Welsh in schools following the 1870 Education Act helped to strengthen the position of English.

The first small group of English-speaking Wesleyan Methodists met in Aberystwyth and were cared for within the Welsh congregation. In 1845 a separate building (now the Salvation Army citadel) was opened by the Welsh society to serve as a day school and an English chapel. In 1870 the English congregation built a new chapel in Queen’s Road. During the 1840s to 1860s the lead mines in the north of the county enjoyed a period of prosperity. As a consequence miners, some of whom were Wesleyan Methodists, were brought in from Cornwall. This prompted the formation of a Lisburne Mines Circuit in 1859. This was quickly renamed the Goginan & Lisburne Mines Circuit. In addition to two chapels the Circuit had societies in Cwmsymlog and Cwmystwyth. By 1879 the mines had declined and the few remaining members were absorbed into the Aberystwyth English Circuit. The Aberystwyth Circuit also included a society in Borth but this seems to have come to an end by 1890.

By 1900 the Circuit comprised only the Aberystwyth congregation with a membership of 95. In 1934 a society was formed in Penparcau and a chapel opened in 1954. This society continued until 2013. In 1978 the Lampeter congregation transferred from the Welsh to the English Circuit. In 1996 a new society was formed in Tregaron and fully recognised in 2002. In the early 1990s both the Aberystwyth and Lampeter chapels were demolished and new chapels built on the same sites. The Aberystwyth building, known as the St Paul Methodist Centre, houses both English and Welsh congregations.

In 1994 the English and Welsh Circuits united to form a single bilingual Ceredigion Circuit with a total membership of around 400. This arrangement lasted until 2010 when Welsh-language Methodism was reorganised and the Welsh congregations became part of the Welsh-language Circuit, Cylchdaith Cymru. The Ceredigion Circuit now comprises the three English-language congregations in Aberystwyth, Lampeter and Tregaron.

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