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My favorurite room: Fater Demetrius; Homes.

Byline: Penny Fray

IT ONCE echoed to the slur of 17th century drunkards bellowing for release after a night of revelry, but now there is only prayer. Caernarfon's old jail has become a place of peace for Orthodox monk Father Demetrius.

Tucked beneath the former printing place of Gwenlyn Evans, the triangular-shaped cell has been transformed into Britain's smallest registered chapel - SS Peter & Paul. But there is barely room to swing a thurible, let alone preach to a congregation larger than three people.

Yet the simplicity of the candle-filled room appeals to the Carmel-based cleric of the ancient Calendar order. He finds its lime-washed walls and compact size in keeping with his Christian modesty, so he often uses it to perform his thrice-daily offices of prayer and psalms.

"It used to be a lock-up for drunks, " he explains.

"But I recently heard a more sinister story that it was once a place where children stayed before they were hanged. Understandably, the room needed a lot of prayer and now it is at its final stage of completion."

Father Demetrius has placed a perfectly sized icon from St Petersburg in the grotto-like chapel and the tiny hole of a window has been fitted with an angel-covered grill.

In the wider part of the building stands a small pew and an altar, giving the Lilliputian room some resemblance to a traditional place of worship.

He says: "It all started when we couldn't find anywhere to stay while in town. It was awkward to rely on buses to take us back home in time, so someone suggested that I used the old lock up instead. It had been empty since 1840 and I applied for planning permission as a result. No-one objected."

Standing opposite the town's walls, under the great gate, the chapel's door could easily be missed by visitors. Locals have long-since forgotten its historic significance.

"It is an historical site returning to its roots, " he says. "Some believe that Constantine the Great, the man responsible for the Nicean Creed, was born in Caernarfon."

Who would have thought a room so small would have such a big history?
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 15, 2001
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