An historic church in the Aberconwy Mission Area has been awarded £707,700 from the National Lottery to upgrade the building and enable it to be used for community activities.
The money will ensure St Grwst’s church can remain as a place of worship, while also serving a dual purpose as a heritage and tourist attraction, bringing visitors and the local community together.
New disabled access and vital repair and upgrading work to the buildings will help open up the church to new audiences. New exhibitions are planned recalling the church and town’s history. Activities such as musical performances, workshops and cinema screenings are also in the pipeline.
Olwen John, one of the project team and a server at St Grwst’s, said: “This three year project will re-energise St Grwst through an ambitious programme of conservation and redevelopment. The church has been an important centre of Christian faith and worship and we’re delighted this will continue alongside new community and tourist activities.
“We will be conserving the church’s fabric and connecting the heritage stories to the community, which will put the church back at the heart of the town and valley. We will be creating a cultural centre for the area, whilst also developing a variety of regular sources of income to ensure the building can support itself in the future.
“It is a very exciting project and a great boost for the local community – there are not many venues in town and we hope St Grwst will now play a central role in local life once again. We would like to thank the National Lottery and its players for this wonderful opportunity.”
To support the work volunteers will be trained in conservation skills to help look after the historic building.
Built originally in 1170, it is reportedly the only known church dedicated to Saint Grwst. After being partially destroyed during Owain Glyndwr’s uprising in the 1400s it was fully demolished during the War of the Roses in 1468. The current building which stands today was constructed in 1470, with further alterations and additions made over the following centuries.
Llanrwst developed as an important market town at the centre of the wool trade, with the price of wool in Britain reportedly set there. The town was also recognised for its harp and clock makers as can be seen from the cemetery headstones. Welsh poets Dafydd Robert and Robert Williams (Trebor Mai) are buried in the churchyard.
St Grwst is one of 216 churches in the Diocese of St Asaph, one of the six dioceses in the Church in Wales, an independent Province of the Anglican Communion. St Grwst is part of the Aberconwy Mission Area which links churches along the Conwy Valley and Llandudno Junction.