The Marble Church, as it is known, is dedicated to St
Margaret. The church in Bodelwyddan is built largely of limestone with a
202 ft high tower and steeple that can be seen for miles around.
Externally there are many fine carvings including gargoyles and
headstops. It is said that its name comes from the thirteen different
kinds of marble within the interior, however many locals would say its
name derives from its white “marble” appearance.
The foundation stone was laid on the 24th July 1856 and the church was
built at a cost of sixty thousand pounds by Lady Willoughby de Broke in
memory of her husband. The church contains pillars made of Belgian Red
marble, and the nave entrance is made from Anglesey marble. It also
contains elaborate woodwork and stained glass, and is a popular tourist
destination. There is a ring of eight bells in the tower. The Parish of
Bodelwyddan is a part of the Deanery of St Asaph in the Diocese of St
The churchyard at Bodelwyddan is the source of a great deal of
controversy. It contains the graves of victims of the Spanish flu
pandemic of 1918-19 who were based in the nearby Kinmel Park Military
Camp. More controversially it is also the burial place for a number of
Canadian soldiers who were awaiting repatriation after the end of the
First World War. Various stories have circulated over the years about a
riot in the camp which resulted in the deaths of five of the Canadian
soldiers on 4-5th March 1919. I quote the official Church website.. " a
riot occurred in the camp when the ship allocated to return the troops
to Canada was diverted to carry food supplies to Russia, and five
Canadian soldiers were killed in the disturbances and subsequently
buried in St Margaret's Churchyard; a common story is that they were
executed for mutiny, but this has been denied by the Canadian Department
of National Defence."
For what it is worth I can offer my twopenn’orth.. or rather my mother's
twopenn'orth of information. My mother was born in 1918. She lived some
9 miles from Bodelwyddan in Colwyn Bay and she remembers the story
thus: "The Canadian and British soldiers fought among themselves. Some
soldiers were killed in the fighting and they were buried in the Marble
Church." (The source of my mother's information would probably have
been her father, my grandfather, who also served in the First World War.
Make your own mind up about which version is the most truthful, but I
tend to believe the spoken word rather than the official versions.)
Whatever the truth of the matter it was a very sad episode for the poor
young men who had survived the horrors of the World War only to suffer
again in what should have been a place of refuge. It may be some
consolation to relatives of the soldiers that the graves are well tended
and there is a memorial to the Canadian soldiers within the churchyard.
For further information I would strongly recommend this BBC forum >
Review Marble Church Bodelwyddan.