Christ Church, Deiniolen

Christ Church, Deiniolen

This church was built at the expense of Thomas Assheton Smith, owner of the nearby Dinorwig slate quarry, and consecrated in September 1857. It was built to accommodate up to 600 people but this number was often exceeded. The architect was Henry Kennedy of Bangor and the building work was “entirely carried out by Welsh workmen”. Mrs Assheton Smith prepared the needlework which surrounded the altar.

The church had a large choir. In January 1862, 40 choristers enjoyed their annual supper of roast beef and plum pudding, provided by Rev HG Edwards. That year, the church gave winter clothing worth £20 (£2,400 today) to the poor.

In 1870 disaster threatened when a large fire was started on part of Meolrhiwan, above the church, using a stocking filled with gunpowder! The area had been enclosed for the purpose of rearing grouse. Hundreds of residents turned out to beat the flames with sticks and spades. The glare could be seen from Caernarfon.

In 1892 Llanllechid-born Rev James Salt became the vicar. He moved into the large vicarage with his wife and family. Two years later a church organ was ordered from leading organ builder Bishop & Sons at a cost of £300 (c.£39,000 today).

In 1899 three adults and nine children from Dinorwig were drowned in a boating accident while on a Sunday School trip to Pwllheli. Rev Salt immediately left for Pwllheli to offer assistance and look after relatives who had arrived to identify bodies. At the inquest he was described as “almost prostrated with grief”. The victims were buried in the churchyard and are commemorated on a stone in the church.

Rev Salt and his wife Catherine also experienced loss. In 1890 their first child, James Thomas, died aged less than three months. In 1910 their youngest daughter, Ethel Violet, died. She had passed her exams for a County Scholarship and started at the County School in September 1909. In October 1910 she contracted gastroenteritis which was so severe it led to her vomiting blood. She died aged 14 and is buried in a part of the churchyard which is close to the vicarage.

In 1914 Rev Salt enjoyed a happier occasion when his elder daughter Dollie was married here. The service was conducted by his brother Rev George Salt, rector of Bodfuan, near Pwllheli. The church was “beautifully decorated with flowers and palms”.

In 1934 a service in Welsh was broadcast by wireless from the church. In 1956 the Rev R Glyndwr Williams conducted the service broadcast on the Welsh Home Service from here.

With thanks to Dr Hazel Pierce, of The History House

Postcode: LL55 3NG    View Location Map

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