Bettws-Y-Coed, or Bettws-Wyrion-Iddon - From 'A Topographical Dictionary of Wales' (1849)
BETTWS-Y-COED, or BETTWS-WYRION-IDDON, a parish, in the union of Llanrwst, hundred of Nantconway, county of Carnarvon, North Wales, 3 miles (s.) from Llanrwst, on the road to Holyhead; containing 451 inhabitants. This parish derives its name from an ancient religious establishment, called Bettws Wyrion Iddon, or "the bead-house of the children of Iddon," on the site of which the present church was built. It was formerly only a township in the parish of Llanrhychwyn, from which it was separated in the sixteenth century. The village is delightfully situated in a vale, surrounded on all sides by the Carnarvonshire and Denbighshire mountains, and near the confluence of the rivers Conway and Llugwy. Across the former of these rivers, about half a mile above the church, is an iron bridge of one noble arch, beautifully ornamented with the rose, thistle, and shamrock, with an inscription in Roman capitals, purporting that it was constructed in the year in which the battle of Waterloo was fought, and thence called Waterloo bridge. Over the latter river is a bridge of singular construction, called Ponty-Pair, or the Cauldron Bridge, consisting of four arches, resting upon masses of rugged precipitous rocks of romantic appearance, which in high floods exhibit below the bridge several cataracts of striking beauty. This picturesque structure was projected and partly raised by one Howel, a mason from PenllYn, who, about the year 1468, had previously erected a bridge over the Lledr. His passage across that stream having been obstructed by a flood, whilst on his journey to Conway, to attend the assizes, he removed to the spot, and built the bridge at his own expense, receiving no other remuneration than the voluntary donations of travellers. He then removed to this place, where he commenced Pont-y-Pair bridge, but died before its completion. The scenery here consists of rocky mountains, in the fissures of which are to be seen trees of stately growth; and the whole neighbourhood abounds with strikingly magnificent and finely contrasted features.
The three rivers, Conway, Llugwy, and Lledr, unite within the parish, and, in their course through the mountainous districts, form the numerous and majestic cataracts for which Bettws is celebrated. Of these, the principal are the falls of the Conway and Llugwy. The first river, rushing with impetuosity through rocks of tremendous height, which contract the passage of the waters, after descending from a great elevation, forms four smaller falls, which are seen in succession from the same spot; and just below the junction of the Conway and the Lledr is a deep, wide, and still piece of water, called LlYn-yr-Avanc, or "the beavers' pool," from its being the resort of the beaver, the skin of which was anciently prized more highly than that of the ermine. About two miles from the village is the cataract of Rhaiadr-yWenol, or "the waterfall of the swallow," formed by the river Llugwy, which, after pursuing its course for some distance in a straight rocky channel, along narrow meadows inclosed by mountains of majestic elevation, falls into a hollow of amazing depth, the sides and summit of which are shaded with trees that have taken root in the fissures of the rocks. The whole of the neighbouring mountains abound with lead-ore, but none of the mines have been worked for some time: a few of the inhabitants are engaged in spinning woollen yarn and knitting stockings. A considerable variety of quartz crystal, of a beautiful whiteness, is found in the parish. Fairs are held annually on May 15th and December 3rd.
The living is a perpetual curacy, endowed with £800 royal bounty, and £200 parliamentary grant; net income, £101; patron, the Bishop of Bangor; impropriator, Lord Willoughby de Eresby, whose tithes have been commuted for a rent-charge of £50. The church, dedicated to St. Michael, is a small but interesting edifice, romantically situated near the confluence of the Conway and Llugwy. Among other ancient monuments, it contains an altar-tomb to the memory of Grufydd ab Davydd Gôch, son to Davydd Gôch, natural son of Davydd, brother of Llewelyn the last prince of Wales, on which is a recumbent effigy in plate armour, with an inscription in a very perfect state: this beautiful relic, which is the production of the thirteenth century, is injudiciously concealed by the erection of a pew over the monument. There are places of worship for Calvinistic Methodists and others. A Church school, open to all the poor children of the parish, was founded in 1821, by Lord Willoughby de Eresby, who contributes £10 per annum towards its support; the master receives in addition fees from the scholars amounting to about £9, and has a house and garden rent-free. There are also two Sunday schools, both connected with the dissenters, and one of them containing as many as 280 adults and children. The interest of a bequest of £10 by Evan Evans in 1780, is distributed among the poor at Christmas.