|Date||2 August 2014|
|Location||Betws-y-Coed||SH 79578 56538; 53.09241°N, 3.79971°W|
The Grade II* listed St Michael’s Church, dating back to the 14th century and situated on the banks of the Afon Conwy, is the oldest building in Betws-y-Coed. Three huge yew trees in its churchyard are thought to be around 1000 years old and the church stands on the site of the original ‘Betws’ (prayer house) that gave the village its name.
Thomas Telford put Betws-y-Coed on the map by including it in his mail route from London to Holyhead. The scenic village’s popularity as a tourist destination saw a marked increase once his A5 road through the village opened in the 1820s. The church subsequently became too small to serve the needs of the community and it was therefore enlarged when it was rebuilt in 1843. A further surge in the numbers of visitors came with the opening in 1868 of the LNWR railway station in the village. A second, larger church — St Mary’s — was therefore built in 1873 as a replacement.
During the 20th century the use of St Michael’s declined and by the 1990s the building had fallen into a state of disrepair. It was declared redundant in 1996, but was not de-consecrated — at least two services are still held there annually. The building is leased from the Church in Wales by the charity Friends of St Michael’s, which was founded in 1994 and which has been responsible for its restoration.