Built in the 14th century, St Michael's Old Church is the oldest building in Betws-y-Coed, and is located on the banks of the River Conwy. Replaced by the parish church of St Mary's in 1873, St Michael's lay slumbering peacefully throughout the twentieth century. But by the early 1990's it was in a sorry state, with a leaking roof and associated plaster damage and it was urgently in need of repair work.
In 1994, the Friends of St Michael’s was formed, to raise both awareness of the building, and money to preserve it. Declared redundant in 2000, the building is now leased from the Church in Wales by the St Michael’s Betws-y-Coed Trust, a registered charity (No 1081038), run by the Friends.
Nowadays hundreds of people visit St Michael’s Old Church in Betws-y-Coed in beautiful Snowdonia every year, and there are many different reasons for appreciating this simple and humble building. The church is normally open daily, 10 am until 5 pm, Easter until the end of October. At other times a key is available, during opening times, from the Conwy Valley Railway Museum (opposite the church). However, during the current Coronavirus-19 Pandemic we were only able to open on 3 days in September 2020, and the church is currently closed to all visitors over the autumn & winter period. We will hopefully re-open in the Spring of 2021 around Easter time.
Visitors from all over the world come and enjoy the oldest building in the village, whilst for those with an interest in history, the stone effigy of Gruffydd ap Dafydd Goch has a special fascination. Students of architecture and church history learn much from the inside arrangements of the church. Most people appreciate a quiet place in which to sit and think and pray.
St Michael’s is important for local Christians too, and despite being declared redundant it is still consecrated. As a balance to the splendour of St Mary’s Parish Church, reminding us of the glory of God, St Michael’s has a special intimacy and simplicity which can speak of the closeness of God. Nor is St Michael’s important only for Anglican Christians: because the building dates from before the religious divisions of recent times, it belongs in some sense to all of us, of whatever denomination, a symbol of the unity which is God’s will for his church here.
Although the church is now officially closed for regular public worship, a service is normally held on St Michael’s Day (in September) and a candle-lit Carol Service at Christmas tide.
In addition, the Friends normally organise a Flower Festival in September each year, which attracts hundreds of visitors to admire the floral displays which are provided by many of the local village organisations. We were unable to hold the Flower Festival in 2019 or 2020 but we aim to return in 2021.