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Capel Curig churches and chapels

Nant y Benglog chapel is now the only place of worship in Capel Curig
Nant y Benglog chapel is now the only place of worship in Capel Curig

After rescuing one of Capel Curig's abandoned churches, The Friends of St Julitta's decided to investigate what became of the other places of worship in this small village. Their secretary Harvey Lloyd explains.

Every summer, we hold an exhibition at St Julitta's. This year's was about the churches and chapels of the village.

Capel Curig was once the proud owner of three churches and four chapels.

The three churches are now redundant; two are houses and we run one as a little exhibition centre.

Only one of the chapels still has services. Capel Nant y Penglog was the smallest of the lot, but it's lasted and has a service at two o'clock every Sunday.

Nant y Gwryd chapel was demolished in a road-widening scheme, so we know little about that one.

Pont Cyffyng was built for the quarry workers in the 19th century. Today it's an outdoor pursuits centre.

Salem chapel was on the A5 and built in the 1930s. It was the biggest and most substantial, but closed in the 1970s.

It's the same story in many Snowdonia villages. Each would have had several chapels and a couple of churches which reflect the population growth because of the quarries and tourism with the coming of the railways.

But people have changed so much over the years. In the 1940s and 1950s it was pretty customary to go to church or chapel, but by the 1960s, things like television took over.

No longer a church, St Julitta's is now used for concerts and exhibitions
No longer a church, St Julitta's is now used for concerts and exhibitions

St Julitta's is the oldest church. It's a Medieval building, probably dating from the 16th century.

There was definitely a church here in 1534, and we suspect earlier than that, but it's hard to find out because the records don't exist.

St John the Baptist church was built as a mission church - secondary to the parish church - because of the slate quarry which opened in 1830.

Strangely enough, in 1884 because of a growing population of tourists, they decided they would build themselves yet another church; the one on the A5, right in the centre of the village. It was very grand and financed by the Penrhyn family.

They pinched the name St Curig off the old Medieval church, which became St Julitta's.

Julitta was a Roman saint. She was a martyr in the 4th century and had a son who was martyred at the same time. His name was Caracas, which translates into Curig. So there was two Curigs around - the Welsh and the Roman!

Christianity came to our shores via the Romans. We know they were in Segontium, Caernarfon and had a temple. There was also a Roman camp in Capel Curig which was occupied for 100 years and they must have been worshipping something.

In the 6th century there was almost an invasion of Irish and Breton missionaries from Europe who became saints, and spread the word of God throughout Wales. They established settlements which we all call Llans.

But strangely, we can't prove that St Curig ever came north. He came ashore near Aberystwyth and established Llangurig and several others which bear his name, but we don't think he ever came to Capel Curig.

So how it got its name is anybody's guess. No one in this world will probably ever know.

We hold an exhibition in St Julitta's every summer, between August and September. Even though we no longer have volunteers there each day, you can still see the exhibition. You just have to ask for a key from Pinnacle Sports shop, Capel Curig.

We intend to create an exhibition about Capel Curig during the war in the next couple of years.

We like to draw the local people in. As not many may know the history of their village it might be lost so we like to stir up a bit of interest.

A 28-page colour booklet, The Churches of Capel Curig, is available in Welsh or English at £3 from Pinnacle Stores Capel Curig, or £3.95 by post from Harvey Lloyd, 37 Stockleys Road, Headington, Oxford, OX3 9RH.




SEE ALSO
In pictures: Capel Curig's churches
08 Oct 09 |  Religion & Ethics

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