St David’s Church, Blaenau Ffestiniog

St David’s Church, Blaenau Ffestiniog

This church was and its burial ground were consecrated in October 1842 on land gifted by Lord Newborough. Louisa Oakeley of Plas Tan y Bwlch funded the church’s construction and its “costly and beautiful” sacramental plate and ornaments. The total cost was almost £2,000.

She endowed the church with more than £2,000 for its running costs, and enlarged a nearby cottage to provide a fitting home for the curate.

In the 1840s the local population was growing rapidly as slate quarrying increased. The new church, commonly known as Eglwys Dewi Sant, was more convenient for worship than the earlier church in Llan Ffestiniog.

Most quarrymen, however, were Nonconformists. In 1891 the bishop of Bangor attended a meeting in the town hall to promote the Anglican cause. The supervisor of the Oakeley quarries, chairing the meeting, said the town had 12 chapels but still only the one church.

Charles Warren Roberts, a well-paid engineer in Brazil before becoming chief supervisor of Llechwedd quarry, was noted for reading the lessons at Eglwys Dewi Sant in English rather than Welsh. He died in 1897, aged 44, leaving a widow and two children.

Another keen churchgoer was William John Williams, who would visit sick members of the congregation to read to them. He was active in the Conservative Party. He moved to the southern USA where he was killed in a dynamite explosion in 1898, aged 32. His Blaenau Ffestiniog address was discovered in the hymnbook he used to carry to St David’s Church. The book was sent to the vicar, along with news of William’s death and a letter of reference the vicar had given William.

Some of the people buried in the churchyard were Nonconformists whose chapels lacked burial grounds. Among them is cobbler William Hughes, bardic name Gwilym Prysor. He wrote poems and songs, worshipped in Independent chapels and was a Liberal activist. He died in 1892.

Also in the churchyard you can see a memorial to airmen who died in four crashes in the area in the Second World War.

Postcode: LL41 3AW    View Location Map

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