History and Heritage

D. Jones Arter, Vicar of Ystalyfera

Rev. D. Jones Arter was vicar of Ystalyfera from 1929 to 1933, overseeing Saint David's Church and Holy Trinity as well as Saint James' mission church in Godrergraig.

In February 1933, the congregation of Saint David's Church, Ystalyfera were surprised to learn that their vicar, who had only joined the parish four years earlier, had been offered the living in Hay, Breconshire, and would probably accept. From the South Wales Voice Friday 11th February 1933:-


Worshippers attended St David's Church Ystalyfera were surprised to learn on Sunday that the Rev D Jones Arter M A., who came to the parish as vicar in 1929, had been offered the living of Hay Breconshire and that it would probably be accepted.

There was a sequel on Monday, when a well attended meeting of parishioners decided to appeal to the vicar to reconsider the matter and to petition the Lord Bishop of Swansea and Brecon to release Mr Arter from any promise which may have been made.

The news has surprised both Church people and Nonconformist, for it is generally agreed that Mr Arter has done good work in the short time he has been in the district. It is felt that his removal from the place at present would be most injurious to the parish.

Local church people have felt so strongly on the matter that on Monday evening a special meeting was called in the Church Hall. Mr John Griffiths, Midland Bank, one of the church wardens presided and there was a very good and representative attendance.

References were made to the splendid work done by Mr Arter in the parish and the view was expressed that in an industrial district like Ystalyfera, it would be difficult to get an incumbent who so fully understood the needs of the church and people and who would be so successful in his work. It was also felt that it was disastrous to remove Mr Arter as he had only been in the parish since the latter part of 1929.


There was a unanimous feeling that every effort should be made available on both the Lord Bishop of Swansea and Brecon and the vicar to have the matter reconsidered.

The living of Hay had been offered to Mr Arter by the Diocesan Patronage Board.

After the whole position had been discussed, a deputation was appointed to wait upon the vicar for the purpose of urging him to reconsider the invitation. A resolution was also passed expressing the highest appreciation of the work of the vicar during the time he had been in the parish.

There was a further resolution that the Lord Bishop should be asked to release Mr Arter from any promise to take the new living, and that the question is re-opened. If necessary a deputation will attend before the Lord Bishop.


Mr Arter whose home is at Taliesyn Cardiganshire is an Oxford M A. He was ordained by the Bishop of St David's and Phil do curacy of Pontardawe from 1914-16. He then became curate in charge of Penlle'rgaer until 1923. He came to Ystalyfera from Llanyre where he was vicar from 1923-29, this appointment being the first made by the Patronage Board of the new Diocese of Swansea and Brecon.

During his residence at Penlle'rgaer he was elected a member of the Governing Body and Diocesan Conference. He was also a member of the Swansea Rural District Council and the Swansea Board of Guardians and one of the governors of Swansea University College.

Mr Arter takes a very keen interest in games, being himself an athlete of no mean prowess. He played football and cricket for his college and still retains an eager interest in all forms of sport.

Mrs Arter is a daughter of the late Rev D T Lloyd of Aberedw and there are three children two sons and a daughter.

The farewell sermon of Rev D Jones Arter was preached in May 1933, as this article from the South Wales Voice newspaper of 6th May 1933 of that year explains:-



The Rev D Jones Arter MA vicar of Ystalyfera preached his farewell sermon on Sunday evening last. There was a very large gathering at St David's church, which included several members of local chapels, which testified to the universal esteem enjoyed by Mr Arter. In the course of his address, Mr Arter, who took his text from Judges 7:19 and 20 said the picture given was of Gideon, who had recruited a very large army to fight the Midianites. Like all earthly leaders, he was a great believer in numbers, but God told him his army was too large and that he would have to reduce it. An opportunity was given to all who were nervous and afraid to withdraw without disgrace. Several thousand failed to stand the test.

God then sent the remainder another test, - that of drinking water from a brook. That might seem a foolish way of trying out a man's bravery but the whole point was that the man who drank water by scooping it up in their hands, were aware of the need for watchfulness, as they were surrounded by enemies. Out of the thousands who were tested only 800 were found fit and conscious of the need of the moment.

Gideon also instructed his men to hide their lights in pictures and to march in total darkness upon the enemy. At the word of command they were to break their pitches and show their lights. There was a great lesson for us in the picture. The 300 men were divided into three companies and all were to act in the same way.

It was very necessary that today Christians should work together for the cause of Christ. It did not matter what denomination we belong to we were members of the same body and were to obey the same commander - God, through Christ, in overcoming the enemy. We should be awake in the darkness and keep on the march at the greater the darkness the greater were the dangers and problems that surround us. There was a time when we should like Gideon's men, hide our lights in pitches as it was wise to hide our actions. That was a real test of courage - to reveal our lights to the enemy.

The time, we must show our light - to let the enemy know for whom we were fighting. Referring to the new vicar Mr Arter said the church people should not regard him from the standard of what they wanted but by what they needed. He asked them to do that as it was only by getting what we needed that we could make progress in our spiritual lives.

Mr Gethin Owen presided at the organ.

The same edition of the South Wales Voice newspaper of 6th May 1933 has more information in another article, about the subsequent presentation and farewell ceremony in the chuch hall of Saint David's Church, Ystalyfera:-



There was a large gathering at the Church Hall Ystalyfera on Monday evening when presentations were made to the Rev D Jones Arter M A, vicar and Mrs Arter on their departure to Hay Breconshire.

The chairman Mr John Griffiths, Midland Bank, and he was supported by the Rev W Evans B A curate; Messrs J M Williams, Aneurin Edwards, T R Arnold, W J Broome, Daniel Lewis and D P Scott.


In the course of an interesting address, the chairman said the offices of the church had their difficulties, but in the case of the Ystalyfera officials they had been less than the by the assistance rendered by the vicar. Mr Arter had been a leader and friend. The greatest difficulties that presented themselves on the material side would never allow the vicar, who was always ready to find a way out. He had the ability of taking the long view on everything. Now that his ministry had come to an end in Ystalyfera he, the chairman, felt rather vexed that that the change was made before the foundation of a successful period of work and been securely laid. It was felt that the powers that be were dealing unjustly with the Ystalyfera people but they should look on the other side of the question. Mrs Arter had been of great assistance the church offices and encourage them at all times to carry out their duties in the best possible way. A great deal of the success attained by Mr Arter was due to the help given by Mrs Arter.


The chairman then called upon the following to make presentations to Mr and Mrs Arter: Mr Johnny Purser Sunday school class, cigarette case; Mrs Broome Mothers Union, handbag; Miss Gabe Young People's Guild, bureau cabinet; Mr J M Williams, wallet.

It was stated that the handbag was a supplementary gift to the pair of Jacobean candlesticks given last week by the Mothers Union.

Speaking on behalf of Holy Trinity, Mr Daniel Lewis said that Mr and Mrs Arter had made themselves very popular and well liked in the parish and their departure was regretted very much. The vicar had not been able to attend at Holy Trinity as often as he would have liked but the explanation was that Mr Arter had not enjoyed the best of health. It was sincerely hoped that his health would improve in his new parish.

Mr Aneurin Edwards, secretary of the Parochial Church Council said he had been in close contact with Mr Arter during three years he had been in Ystalyfera and had always found him ready and willing to do what he could to help others. The presents that were being given him were only slight tokens of the regard of the church people.


Mr W J Broome said he was sure Mr Arter had no enemies in the parish as he refused to be on bad terms with anyone and no one could be other than friendly disposed to him at all times. Mrs Arter had a great deal on the spiritual side. Her Sunday school class was a model and she was a most efficient teacher: her teaching had been of value for several of the students had gained the highest prices in the whole of the diocese.

The South Wales Voice newspaper of 13th May 1933 records the Reverend D.Jones Arter's taking up of his new position, in Hay-on-Wye.



The institution and induction of the Rev D Jones Arter M A the late vicar of Ystalyfera, to the benefits of Hay Breconshire, took place on Tuesday evening.

Mr Arter was nominated to the benefice by the Diocesan Board to succeed the Rev John Jeffries de Winton R D., who resigned the living after 30 years service.

Over a hundred church people from Ystalyfera journeyed to Hay by special conveyances and the large number of his late parishioners present at the service testified to the high esteem in which the Rev D Jones Arter was held in Ystalyfera.

On the way to Hay a stop was made at Brecon, when the party paid a visit to the cathedral and other places of interest in the town.

The Parish Church at Hay was crowded and the service took the form of shortened evensong, conducted by the Rev T Madoc Jones, curate in charge, the lesson being read by Rev Canon W E T Morgan which was followed by an address by the Right Rev Lord Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, who conducted the institution and induction.


The Lord Bishop said that in 1845, 88 years ago, his father Archdeacon W L Bevan, was instituted to the benefice of Hay by the Lord Bishop of St David's.

In those days, owing to lack of conveyances and the difficulty in getting about, the institution probably took place at Carmarthen or Abergwili. Archdeacon Bevan retained the benefice until the early years of this century having spent 50 years at Hay. He was followed by Canon Smith, who remained there for only two years and who was succeeded by the Rev J J de Winton, who recently resigned the living after a ministry of practically 30 years.

One of the many signs today of the quickened interest in church affairs was an institution like the present one, when so many from the incumbent's late parish, came a long distance to wish their late vicar Godspeed in his new parish.

There were many traditions in connection with the church at Hay and the Rev D Jones Arter came to carry on the work built on those traditions tried and proven by his efforts in various parishes of the dioceses. He came from the industrial parish of Ystalyfera, which had passed through difficult times through unemployment and depression and he had good credentials.

Proceeding, the Bishop said there were two services. The institution placed the authority to carry on the spiritual work of the parish which had to be carried out by the bishop and induction meant he was placed in possession of the means to carry on his work namely the church, the vicarage house and the stipend in respect of the parish.


The new incumbent rocked the church door, rang the bell to signify to the parishioners that he had taken possession and invited them to come and worship with him in the church.

Following the exhortation and prayers the Lord Bishop read the letters of institution of the Rev D Jones Arter to the benefice. The induction ceremony was then carried out by the Archdeacon of Builth, Van Church Jones who accompanied by the Rev Jones Arter, preceded by the church warden, walked to the main church door and after the reading of the mandate by the archdeacon, the new vicar unlocked the door and rang the church bell. The service then terminated with him and the blessing, Mr R Harding presiding at the organ.

Following the service refreshments were provided for the visitors at the Parish Hall. The robed clergy present included the Rev Jonathan Davies Colbren, Rev D S Williams Ystradgynlais, Rev D Hilary Jones Abercrave, Rev D Jones Devynock and Rev W Evans curate of Ystalyfera.


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