15th or early 16th century, it was known as Curig’s Chapel - Capel Curig in Welsh – giving its name to the surrounding area and the village that gradually developed. Local legend ascribes the building of the chapel to a local gentlewoman suffering from a skin disease, who was advised to wash the afflicted parts in the waters of a spring on the farm of Gelli’r Mynach (the monk’s grove). She was cured, and in thanksgiving to God built this chapel near the holy spring. The chapel’s dedication to Curig may therefore be because of an association with Curig Lwyd, the Blessed Curig, a 6th century monk and later Bishop of Llanbadarn, whose staff was used throughout the middle ages as a relic with power to heal skin diseases.
The church’s exterior construction is typical of the simple rustic style of the old churches of the Conwy valley. The entrance was originally on the north wall, where the blocked-up doorway can be seen surmounted by a cyclopean arch – a huge single stone roughly carved to form an arch. The south chapel was probably added later, which would have required the roof to be taken off; evidence of raising the roofline can be seen on the east gable. Inside, there was a gallery above the south chapel, lit by a skylight. The bell turret predates the nineteenth century; the bell is dated 1623, but may have been ‘recycled’ from a earlier site.
In 1837, the chapel was extensively renovated at the expense of the local landowner, George Hay Dawkins-Pennant of Penrhyn Castle. Rectangular casement windows gave more light to the interior and a barrel-vaulted ceiling was installed below the medieval roof beams. The layout was typical of a small Evangelical Anglican church of this period, packed with box pews facing a prominent pulpit with a reading desk below it, from which the clergyman would take most of the service. A much grander new St. Curig’s church was built on the main road in 1883, and the dedication of the old church was changed to St. Julitta’s.
This church is now deconsecrated, but is cared for by a volunteer group, the Friends of St. Julitta’s, who lease it from the Church in Wales. They are a registered charity. Click here for information on guidebooks.
The cemetery is the last resting place for generations of people from Capel Curig and many of those killed in mountain accidents. On its grave stones is written a rich history of the people, their homes and places of work. The memorial inscriptions in the churchyard have been recorded and are available in booklet form for purchase. Also The Bishops Transcripts 1756 - 1837 have been transcribed and are available in a A4 Booklet form for £8 50.
The churchyard is also a haven for a wide range of insects, birds, mammals and plants - it is being managed with conservation in mind in the interests of wildlife. Birdboxes and bird feeders have been erected and several native trees planted. The spring flowers produce a wonderful display after the cold wet winters that sometimes visit Capel Curig!
The plan of the original church is typical of old churches in Snowdonia and now unique in the district - the only example where the double square (the length is twice the width) has not been altered in later times.
The church was created by the people of Capel Curig, financed by them and built by its craftsmen and represents the simplicity and essence of the settlement in early days.
Saints Curig and Julitta
Curig Lwyd (Curig the Blessed) is believed to have been a 6th century bishop of Llanbadarn, Wales where several churches are dedicated to his honour. But in Norman times the dedication to the Welsh saint gave place as in other Welsh churches to the child martyr Cyriacus (or Cyricus) and his mother Julitta.
When persecution against Christians was raging under the 4th century Roman emperor Diocletian a wealthy and pious noblewoman named Julitta was widowed with a three year old son named Cyricus. As a Christian Julitta decided that life in her native Iconium (in central Turkey) was too dangerous.
Taking her son and two maids she fled to Seleucia and to her alarm found that the governor, Alexander, was savagely persecuting Christians. The four fugitives journeyed on to Tarsus but unfortunately Alexander was paying a visit to that city when the fugitives were recognised and arrested.
Julitta was put on trial and brought her young son with her to the courtroom. She refused to answer any questions about herself except to say that she was a Christian. The court pronounced that Julitta was to be stretched on a rack and then beaten. The guards about to lead Julitta away separated the son Cyricus from his mother - the child was crying and the governor Alexander in a vain attempt to pacify him took Cyricus on his knee.
Terrified and longing to run back to his mother Cyricus kicked the governor and scratched his face. Alexander stood up in rage and flung the toddler down the steps of the tribune - fracturing the boys skull and killing him.
Cyricus's mother did not weep - instead she thanked God and went cheerfully to torture and death. Her son had been granted the crown of martyrdom. This made the governor even angrier and he decreed that Julitta's sides should be ripped apart with hooks and then be beheaded.
Both Julitta and Cyricus were flung outside the city on the heap of criminals bodies but her maids rescued the corpses of the mother and child and buried them in a nearby field.
St Julitta’s - by candlelight
Plan of St Julitta’s
Martyrdom of the Saints