St David’s Betws
The mediaeval church of St David’s Betws was probably built in the twelfth century by the Normans with the earliest written reference to the church being in the charter of Nicholas ap Gwrgant, Bishop of Llandaff who died in 1183. It is thought that a Celtic church made of wood, wattle and daub occupied the site prior to the stone built church. There have been several spellings of Betws namely, Bettws, Betus, Bettus and Bethous the simplest translation of the word is ‘House of Prayer.’
For more than 700 years the mediaeval church was annexed to the parish of St Illtyd’s, Newcastle, Bridgend and served by a curate appointed by the vicar of that parish until 1885.
After this date it became a parish in its own right for just over another 100 years until the retirement of the incumbent priest the Revd A. D. Pegler in 1987, when the parish was left without a priest for almost two years. In February 1989 the parishes of St David’s, Betws and St Bride’s Minor, Llansantffraid were served by one rector the Revd John F. Ward. In 2004 the united benefice of Llansantffraid, Betws and Aberkenfig was formed
The Restoration of St David’s, the only medieval building in the village of Betws was commenced in 1893. The north wall was demolished and an arcade of three imposing arches was constructed: with the addition of a new vestry and an enlarged East Window the dark, small church was transformed into a magnificent building. The restoration was funded by Miss Olive Talbot and a brass plaque commemorating her generosity was placed above the south door.
Some of the modern additions were a large crucifix suspended over the chancel presented by the family of the late Revd Albert Dahl Pegler as a memorial to him. With the new millennium a kitchen and toilet area were constructed in the North Aisle to facilitate more use of the church as a community space.
The turret of the church is unique, being of a dovecote design, set in the south side of the turret are a number of slats which can be removed to access the bells. On top is a weather vane of unusual design, a fish, a symbol of Christian faith.
With grateful thanks to Mrs Thelma Roberts. This information was taken with her permission from her book St David’s Church, Bettws, Mid Glamorgan – a walk through history.©1993 This book newly reprinted with updates