History of St David’s
As late as 1824, the Parish Church (St Mary’s, Llanaber) was the only Anglican place of worship in the parish. The influence of visitors at that time was already increasing and the Rector the Revd T G Roberts, was not slow to perceive the necessity of building a new church for the benefit of those English visitors who worshipped according the the doctrines prescribed by the Church of England. Accordingly in the year 1824, he convened a vestry meeting of the Churchwardens and the most influential church people of the district to discuss the advisability of erecting a Chapel of Ease. It was resolved to apply to the Bishop of Bangor for his permission, but his Lordship only gave his assent on the condition that the cost of the building should be defrayed by voluntary subscription. The worthy Rector was a man in every way fitted to accomplish the task that he had set himself to do and he immediately commenced collecting necessary funds.
His strenuous efforts on behalf of his well-beloved church were well rewarded and on the 4th December 1830 Revd Roberts was able to submit a plan and particulars of the proposed sanctuary. The church designed by Mr Edward Haycock of Shrewsbury is a neat Cruciform structure built in the later style of English architecture and contains accommodation for 470 people of which 230 places were to be free, in consideration of a grant of £300 from the Incorporated Society for Building and Repairing Churches and Chapels.
The church was built at the southern end of Barmouth, on a site that was formerly a ship building yard. At the time of the erection of the church there was a great deal of opposition to the site; the opposing faction contending that sand-drifts would make the approach practically inaccessible.
For some years after the erection of this church, sand-drifts did indeed prove a source of great annoyance to the worshippers and for once we feel tempted to sympathise with Mr Black (author of ‘A Picturesque Tour’) when he exclaims that St David’s Church was very badly situated. At the present day, however, the trouble experienced by sand-drifts has ceased to exist.
From the time of its erection until the opening of St John’s Church in 1895, English services were held in the morning and Welsh services at night. Currently, services are bi-lingual. As time progressed it became very desirous that alterations should be effected and at a vestry meeting held to discuss the matter on 25th November 1886, it was resolved to build a new vestry – to have a wooden floor, a new approach at the north east corner and to have sundry other small alterations made at a total cost not exceeding £100.
Among the chief supporters of the Anglican church in Barmouth in the 1830’s and 1840’s were a family called Ricketts who lived in Aberamffa House now modernised into Orielton Hall. In 1845 the Rector received a magnificent silver Sacrament Cup with the inscription ‘The Offering of M. A. Rth’ from Mrs Ricketts. The donation was accompanied by the following letter – “Dear Sir, Captain Barrow will deliver to you a case containing the Sacramental Cup which we were accustomed to lend to the Chapel at Barmouth, for the celebration of the Communion. It is my wish to make a gift of it in perpetuity and I shall be obliged to you to have it noted in the Parish Documents so that it belongs absolutely to the Church.”
Further additions and alterations were made over the course of the coming decades. The current altar was built in 1880, a font formed of five stone centre columns, was donated by Margaret and Edmund Humphreys and family and was originally placed by the main entrance. Mr Alex R Gibbs of London created and installed a wonderful stained glass window at the east end behind the altar in the 1880’s. Another significant addition during the 20th Century was the installation of a 2 manual Nicholson Organ during 1910 which also included the construction of a new room to contain all of the new Organ’s water pressure pumping equipment. In 1974 Lady Russon donated oil painting copies of cartoons drawn by Raphael depicting the lives of St Peter and St Paul – The originals are now housed at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.