A Topographical Dictionary of Wales. Originally published by S Lewis, London, 1849.
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HOLYWELL (called by the Welsh TRÊFFYNNON, a borough, market-town, and parish, and the head of a union, partly in the Holywell, and partly in the Northop, division of the hundred of Coleshill, county of Flint, North Wales, 5 miles (W. N. W.) from Flint, and 197 (N. W.) from London; containing 10,834 inhabitants, of whom 4313 are in the town. This place derives its Welsh name of Trêffynnon, or "the town of the well," from one of the most powerful springs in the island, which issues from a rock just below the town, and has been celebrated for many ages for the miraculous efficacy traditionally related to have been imparted to its waters by St. Winifred, to whose memory, after her decease, the fountain was dedicated. Its reported Saxon name of Welston appears to have been derived from the same source; and its present appellation of Holywell originated in the supposed sacredness of its spring, to which numerous pilgrims of every rank resorted from all parts of the kingdom, to present their offerings at the shrine of its tutelar saint. According to the monkish legend, Winifred was the daughter of Thewith, a powerful lord in this part of the principality, and was niece to St. Beuno, under whose protection she lived in monastic seclusion, in a vale which, for its remarkable aridity, had obtained the name of Sychnant, near the foot of the hill on which the town of Holywell now stands; where Beuno had built a small church, and where there are two fields still called Gerddi St. Beuno, or "St. Beuno's Gardens." The same indifferent authority states that Cradocus, son of a neighbouring king, enamoured of the beauty of St. Winifred, and enraged at her disdainful repulses, struck off her head with his sword, as she was endeavouring to escape from his pursuit; that the severed head, after rolling down the side of the hill, stopped near the church of St. Beuno, and that a spring of prodigious force burst forth with impetuosity from the spot on which it rested. The moss on the sides of this spring is said to have diffused a fragrant odour; and the stones, which were discoloured with her blood, to have assumed, on the anniversary of her decollation, a colour not possessed by them at other times. St. Beuno, taking up the head, united it to the body, which instantly became resuscitated; and Winifred is said to have survived her decapitation fifteen years, and to have died at Gwytherin, in Denbighshire, in which place her remains rested till the reign of Stephen, when they were removed (by divine admonition, as it is said) to the abbey of St. Peter and St. Paul at Shrewsbury, where a fraternity or guild was founded in honour of her memory. After her death her sanctity is said to have been proved by numerous miracles; and the waters of the miraculously formed well were found to be efficacious in the cure of all corporeal infirmities.
The legend of St. Winifred would scarcely have been worthy of repetition here, had not its influence on the prosperity of the town of Holywell, and even on its very existence, by causing a vast resort of pilgrims to the extraordinarily copious spring, been extremely great, having even yet hardly ceased to operate. In Domesday-book no mention is made of Holywell, whence Bishop Fleetwood concluded that the story above related was purely the invention of monks living in a later age; and it is somewhat singular that, if the well had really attained the celebrity which it is said to have done at so early a period, the wonder-telling Giraldus Cambrensis, who lodged for a night at the abbey of Basingwerk, in the parish, in 1188, in company with Baldwin, Archbishop of Canterbury, then preaching the crusades in Wales, should make no mention of it; a circumstance which induced Dr. Powell to regard the whole story as a fiction, and ascribe it to the monks of the neighbouring abbey, under whose protection the place seems first to have risen into importance, and who procured for it the grant of a market and a fair.
Basingwerk abbey is said to have been founded, in 1131, by Ranulph, Earl of Chester, for Cistercian monks, being probably the first establishment of that order in Wales: the Cistercians had settled in England three years previously. This is the origin assigned to it by Bishop Tanner; but, according to Bishop Fleetwood, it was instituted by King Henry II.; whilst Mr. Pennant is inclined to attribute its origin to some of the Welsh princes, as Llewelyn ab Iorwerth and his son David, who were great benefactors to it, in their respective charters recite that they give and confirm the several donations to God, St. Mary, the monastery of Basingwerk, and the monks, which had been bestowed on the monks by their predecessors, for the salvation of their souls. Ranulph, however, must in any case have been a considerable benefactor to the house, as from this period may be dated its rise to importance; and about this time part of the buildings yet standing seems to have been erected. It is probable that the Cistercian rule was introduced into Basingwerk by Ranulph in 1131, before which, it seems, the institution consisted only of a chapel, in which the monks dwelt. Its early existence is recorded by a monkish writer, who relates that Richard, son of Hugh Lupus, and the second Norman Earl of Chester, on his return in 1119, from Normandy, where he had been educated, undertook a pilgrimage to the well of St. Winifred, and that, either in going or returning, he was attacked by the Welsh, and compelled to seek refuge in Basingwerk Abbey. In this insecure retreat, continues the monk, he applied for relief to St. Werburg, who miraculously raised certain sands in the estuary of the Dee, between Flintshire and the promontory of Wirrall in Cheshire, which enabled Richard's constable to pass over to his assistance; and the sands said to have been thus formed, have to this day borne the designation of "the Constable's Sands." It was probably Earl Richard who afterwards erected a castle at Basingwerk, intended for the defence of the abbey, and which was destroyed by the Welsh in the reign of Stephen.
During the protracted struggle between the AngloNorman invaders of Wales and the native population of the country, the abbey of Basingwerk, upon which the town of Holywell was dependent, appears, together with the surrounding district, to have been alternately in the power of each party; but the monks, by good management, contrived to keep friends with both, at least so far as to escape serious molestation. In 1150, Ranulph, Earl of Chester, and Madoc ab Meredydd, Prince of Powys, invading the territories of Owain Gwynedd, sovereign of North Wales, the latter advanced into Flintshire, to check their progress; and meeting them at Counsyllt, Coleselt, or Coleshill, in or near the eastern part of this parish, contrary to the usual custom of the Welsh, of scarcely ever risking a general engagement, or of attacking an enemy unless in situations of advantage, he availed himself of the ardour of his forces, and gave them battle. This conduct obtained for Owain a brilliant victory over his enemies, who were superior in number; and so entire was the defeat of the English, that few escaped but such as by the swiftness of their horses were enabled to elude the fury of the pursuers. Owain Gwynedd again took post in this vicinity, at Basingwerk, in 1157, to await the invasion of the English forces led in person by Henry II., who, having advanced along the seashore to Flint, thought either to bring the Welsh prince to an immediate engagement, or to penetrate into the interior of the country. But Owain avoided a battle, and the English, passing through a long narrow defile at Coleshill, after proceeding so far that it was alike hazardous to advance or retreat, were attacked by the Welsh, who rushed upon them with furious impetuosity from the woods, and threw them into the greatest disorder. Henry was compelled to flee; several of his nobility were slain, among whom were Eustace Fitz-John and Robert de Courcy; and the few of the vanquished that escaped the slaughter, falling back upon the main body of the English army which was entering the defile, spread a general panic. A report of the king's death being propagated, the Earl of Essex, hereditary standard-bearer of England, threw down the standard; and in the consternation that prevailed, the Welsh made dreadful havoc in the ranks of the invaders. The rout was becoming general, when Henry, having escaped from his perilous situation, exposed himself by lifting up the visor of his helmet, and thus restored the courage of his troops, who, led on by their sovereign, drove the Welsh back into the woods, and passed through the defile without further opposition.
Henry, after his escape from this ambuscade, restored the castle of Basingwerk, which he left well fortified and garrisoned, in order to secure a retreat for his forces in case of any similar disaster in their marches through the interior of the principality, much of which at that time formed a dangerous extent of wild forests. As an additional security, and also probably for the protection of the numerous English devotees who went to present their offerings at the shrine of St. Winifred, the same monarch is said to have founded here a house of Knights Templars, a military order that had been introduced into England during the preceding reign. Some antiquaries, however, doubt whether the Templars' house was founded in this part of the county, referring to an ancient authority which states that, when the king restored and fortified the castles of Basingwerk and Rhuddlan, he built a house for the knights "inter hæc duo castra." He also confirmed the grants already made to the abbey of Basingwerk, and added to them some further immunities, a circumstance which induced Leland mistakenly to ascribe to him its original foundation. The castle, on its restoration by Henry, was twice assaulted by the Welsh, who, vainly attempting to reduce it, were on both occasions repulsed with considerable loss. After the second attempt, made in 1158, the garrison was considerably augmented, and continued to maintain possession of it till 1165, when (while held by Hugh de Beauchamp, on whom it had been bestowed by the English monarch,) the Welsh, under the conduct of Owain Gwynedd, having defeated the garrison, fired and otherwise so entirely demolished the castle, that not a single vestige of it is now discernible: this exploit facilitated the re-conquest of the maritime parts of Flintshire. Giraldus calls the monastic establishment at the place "Cellula de Basingwerk." A castle is said to have been built at Trêffynnon, or Holywell, in 1210, by Ranulph, the third Earl of Chester of that name.
When Edward I. was making preparations for the final conquest of the Welsh, he issued two mandates for the protection of the abbey, on condition that the monks should cease all commerce with the Welsh rebels; and this condition they appear to have implicitly observed, henceforward closely attaching themselves to that which was so obviously the stronger party. At this period the monastery of Basingwerk was raised to the dignity of a mitred abbey; and the abbot was summoned by royal mandate to five parliaments, held during the reign of this monarch. The resort of pilgrims to the well of St. Winifred received the greatest encouragement from the Roman pontiffs; in the reign of Henry V., Pope Martin V. furnished the abbey of Basingwerk with pardons and indulgences to sell to the devotees. This house continued to flourish until the Dissolution, when its revenue, estimated at £157. 15. 2., was granted to Henry ab Harry. The delusive practices above mentioned were renewed in the reign of Mary, by the interest of Thomas Goldwell, Bishop of St. Asaph, who, on the accession of Elizabeth, fled into Italy. The last pilgrim of royal lineage that visited the shrine of St. Winifred was James II., on August 29th, 1686; on which occasion he is said to have received part of the dress worn by Mary, Queen of Scots, at the time of her execution. His queen addressed to Sir Roger Mostyn, Bart., an order for putting the chapel over the well into the possession of a Roman Catholic priest. At the commencement of the last century, the market and fair formerly held at Holywell having long been disused, the former was revived by letters patent from the crown, dated January 20th, 1703, granted to Sir John Egerton, Bart., bestowing also the privilege of three annual fairs, which, however, were never established. The resort of pilgrims to this place has now nearly ceased, notwithstanding an attempt made some time ago to restore the belief of the vulgar in the miraculous virtues of the waters, in a pamphlet written by Dr. Milner, the Roman Catholic bishop, entitled "Authentic Documents relative to the miraculous cure of Winifred White, of the town of Wolverhampton, at Holywell, in Flintshire, on the 28th of June, 1805;" and containing also details of numerous other cases of the most lamentable diseases said to have been cured by once bathing in the fountain. A triumphant reply to this pamphlet was published by the Rev. P. Roberts, the late learned rector of Halkin.
The parish of Holywell, containing 7263 acres, extends for some miles along the southern shore of the wide and sandy estuary of the Dee, and comprises within its limits the whole course of the Holywell stream, with its attendant valley. Whatever celebrity it may have anciently derived from the supposed sanctity and miraculous efficacy of the waters, has been altogether eclipsed by the real and substantial benefits resulting from the introduction of manufactures, from the almost inexhaustible wealth of its mines, and from its advantageous situation on the estuary of the river Dee; all which have powerfully contributed to raise it to a high rank, whether considered in respect of its mineral productions, its manufactures, or its commerce. The town is pleasantly situated within a mile and a half of the shore, on the declivity of a lofty hill of limestone, in a beautiful vale watered by the impetuous stream issuing from St. Winifred's well, at the bottom of the town, sheltered on one side by lofty hills, and open on the other towards the sea, embracing a picturesque view of the interesting ruins of the ancient abbey of Basingwerk, and a fine prospect over the open country towards Liverpool. The streets are spacious and well paved, the houses handsome and well built; and the whole town is lighted with gas, and abundantly supplied with water by wells. The environs are enlivened with several gentlemen's seats, and abound with richly diversified scenery: from the higher grounds are obtained extensive prospects over the surrounding country. The gently undulated valleys are finely contrasted with the lofty hills by which they are inclosed, and the wooded eminences with the stream by which the lower grounds are intersected, and, in the distance, with the expansive waters of the Dee. The air is salubrious, and the opportunities of cold and sea bathing which the place affords render it not only a pleasant place of permanent residence, but also of occasional resort for invalids, for whose comfort every accommodation is provided, with the benefit of good medical advice, and the advantage of pleasant rides and walks in the immediate neighbourhood.
The celebrated Well of St. Winifred, the miraculous efficacy of the waters of which was for ages in such repute, and the really sanative virtues of which still attract the notice and regard of numerous visiters, is certainly the most copious in the island. It rises with prodigious force from under the rock immediately below the church, and is received into a spacious and elegant, polygonal, star-shaped basin, surrounded by a broad pavement, and surmounted by a beautiful chapel in the later style of English architecture. From the angles of the polygon rise lofty and finely clustered columns, with highly enriched capitals, from which spring arched ribs of appropriate design, exquisitely sculptured at the intersections, and uniting in a common centre supporting an elaborately wrought canopy of exquisite beauty. From the point of intersection is a pendant, on which is sculptured the legend of St. Winifred; and around it, and throughout the whole of the interior, are shields charged with armorial bearings, displaying the arms of England, of Catherine of Arragon, of the Stanley family, and of the abbey of Basingwerk: opposite to the entrance is a canopied niche, formerly containing a statue of the patron saint. Above this is the Chapel of St. Winifred, in the same style of architecture, elaborately ornamented with similar details. The eastern part is pentagonal, and was formerly lighted by five windows; its roof is richly groined, and supported on slender columns of light and graceful form. The chapel is lighted by lofty windows of elegant proportions, with delicate tracery; and in front is a recess, separated by a handsome arched screen, and the roof of which was of finely carved oak. This beautiful edifice, erected by the Stanleys in the fifteenth century, has been recently repaired; it has long been used as a schoolroom, and is still the only room in the town appropriated to public meetings. In front of the building is a pleasure-bath, thirtyeight feet in length, sixteen in breadth, and eight in its greatest depth, entered by steps, and in which is found in profusion the violet-scented moss so eagerly sought for by visiters at Holywell. This moss is not peculiar to the place, being found in several other parts of the kingdom, and in great abundance at a fine spring in the parish of Llandysilio: it is called by botanists jungermannia asplenioides. Another species is found here, called by Linnæus byssus iolithus, and by Schwenckfelt muscus subrubeus, which adheres to the stone like a coating of fine velvet: the conferva gelatinosa is also found in the water of this spring. The chapel is parochial property, and the use made of it is subject to the consent of the vicar and churchwardens for the time being; but the spring is common.
The well was formerly in the highest reputation for the cure of all disorders, under the auspices of St. Winifred, in honour of whom, as votive offerings from patients said to have been healed by the waters, the crutches of the lame, and the barrows of the impotent, are suspended from the ceiling of the canopy. The water of the well is peculiarly adapted for the purpose of cold bathing. Its mean temperature is about 48° of Fahrenheit, and though sometimes, after showers, tinged with a colour like that of whey, it is generally limpid and transparent; it contains a considerable quantity of fixed air, and holds in solution sulphate of lime. According to an experiment which has been made, it appears that the water flows into the well at the rate of 1200 tons per hour. The strong ebullition occasioned by this discharge accounts for pebbles of an ounce weight being continually suspended, or rather supported aloft, in the stream, which supplies the greater part of the town, and, within the distance of one mile and 234 yards, completes its course to the Dee. In that short distance it some years ago worked no less than eleven extensive mills, with a power equivalent to that of 1000 horses; but the mills are now abandoned, though the stream is still as effective as it ever was. On the outside of the great well, close to the road, is a small spring, the waters of which were once famed for the cure of sore eyes.
The labouring population of the parish are principally employed in its extensive coal and lead mines, and in the smelting-houses at Bagillt, where as much as one-half of the lead produced in the whole united kingdom is manufactured. Until recently, the beautiful valley at the head of which the town of Holywell is situated, and through which the waters of St. Winifred's well take their short and precipitate course to the Dee, was far more distinguished for the extent and variety of its trade and manufactures, than any tract of similar extent in North Wales; a superiority which it owed to the convenience of its powerful stream for giving motion to machinery, to its situation on the estuary of the Dee being favourable for commerce, and to the fuel, both of coal and wood, for the manufacture of metals, which abounds in the vicinity. The origin of these now discontinued manufactures is deserving of notice. For many ages, the copious stream of St. Winifred served only to turn a corn-mill belonging to the abbey, and a few other mills for similar purposes, till about the middle of the last century, when several attempts were made to apply it to other purposes, and some small mills in various branches of manufacture were erected. But it was not till the year 1777 that Holywell can be said to have emerged from obscurity, and to have risen into manufacturing and commercial importance. At that time Mr. Smalley introduced the cotton manufacture into the place, and erected a mill on the same principle as one which had been recently erected at Cromford by Sir Richard Arkwright. Soon after this, Mr. Smalley was joined by an opulent company from Lancashire, who introduced into the manufacture the improved machinery of Sir Richard Arkwright, and in 1783 built a larger mill, now called the Upper Mill, which worked 12,218 spindles. The same company, in 1787, erected the Lower Mill, adapted to the working of 7492 spindles; and in 1791, the Crescent Mill, in which 8286 spindles were kept in motion. These mills were applied to the spinning of cotton-thread, of which 26,096 pounds were produced on an average weekly, furnishing employment to nearly 1000 persons; but their operations were at length suspended in consequence of the failure of the company. There were also upon the stream several extensive copper-mills, the first of which, for rolling sheet-copper, was erected in 1781, by the Parys Mining Company, who in 1783 erected another, called the Hammer Mill, for the manufacture of every description of copper vessels, but particularly the large vessels used in the West India islands in the granulating process of the sugar manufacture. The copper-bolts now universally used in ship-building were first invented by the proprietors, and manufactured under a patent at these works, from which also the royal dock-yards were supplied with copper sheathing and rudder bands, previously to the establishment of similar works by government at Portsmouth. The Meadow Mill, an extensive building, erected in 1788, was appropriated to the manufacture of copper cylinders, which, after being engraved with various patterns, were used in the printing of muslins, and for which a patent was obtained by the same company. In 1806 a mill for drawing copper-wire, to be manufactured into copper nails and spikes, for the supply of government, was erected. In these several mills, all of which were worked by the same stream, and form conspicuous and extensive structures in the vale through which it flows, more than 1000 tons of copper were annually manufactured into the various articles above enumerated, and more than 100 persons were constantly employed. They were discontinued at a somewhat later period than were the cotton-mills. There were also very extensive mills for rolling copper and sheetlead, for casting and drawing patent lead-pipes, and for the manufacture of white and red lead, affording occupation to more than a hundred persons.
Some employment is afforded by a paper-mill, formerly a cotton-mill, in which paper is made from straw, by the patent process of Messrs. Mangnall and Sons, of Bolton, in Lancashire. A mill for throwing silk was erected in the town in 1822, in which more than a hundred persons find employment; and at Pen-y-Maes a manufactory for the weaving of narrow silk goods was established in 1821, in which sixty looms are in operation, and about ninety persons employed. In the township of Bagillt, which is situated immediately on the estuary of the Dee, are three separate and very extensive establishments for the smelting of lead-ore, where, conjointly, more than 25,000 tons of lead are produced annually; and attached to the works are refineries, in which, upon an average, above 300,000 ounces of silver are annually separated from the ore: connected with them are manufactories for sheet-lead and pipes. In these several works at Bagillt nearly 600 men are employed.
The district immediately around Holywell is preeminently distinguished for the richness of its mineral treasures, which appear to have been worked from the earliest period, and still continue to form a great source of wealth. Several new lead-mines have been opened with success, and have amply rewarded the labours of the enterprising adventurers. Among these, the most considerable was the Milwr mine, about a mile from the town, which was first wrought in 1822; in each of the years 1829 and 1830 it yielded to the proprietors a clear profit of £17,000, and in the latter year alone produced nearly 3000 tons of lead-ore. A steam-engine, with a seventyinch cylinder, was constructed for the use of this mine, and about 200 persons were regularly employed; but it is now supposed to be exhausted. The mine called the Holywell Level was first opened in 1773, from which time till the year 1795 the adventurers lost more than £5000 by the undertaking. From 1800 to 1825, the accumulated profits amounted to £131,850, or nearly £5300 per annum; but, from the increased expense attending the working of it since this last period, the average profits have not exceeded £1000 per annum. The approach to this mine is near St. Winifred's well, and it was formerly entered by boats, which floated on the water drained from the mine, by means of which the ore was brought to its mouth. In 1830, however, a tramroad was laid down, communicating with the several workings in the level, which extends in a western direction for more than 1800 yards, and from which branches another level, extending 500 yards in a direction from north to south. The ore of the mine, from the greater proportion of silver which it contains, is always worth £1 per ton more than that of any other; the average produce is about 1000 tons per annum, and in obtaining this about one hundred men are generally employed. A steam-engine of adequate power, constructed for the use of the mine, is fixed about 500 yards above the mouth of the level. There are several smaller mines of lead-ore in the parish, and also considerable mines of calamine; but the latter have not been worked of late years. Coal is found in great abundance in the township of Greenfield, in the parish, and is worked to a considerable extent. In the township of Bagillt (which see) are also very extensive collieries, affording employment to 250 persons, and producing annually more than 40,000 tons of coal, which is chiefly sent coastwise from Bagillt quay to Ireland, the Isle of Man, Liverpool, and the distant parts of North Wales.
The situation of Holywell near the estuary of the Dee affords great facility of commercial intercourse with the chief towns in the principality, and with Liverpool and the principal ports on the neighbouring parts of the English coast: vessels of 200 tons' burthen can approach within two miles of the town, at all states of the tide. The Chester and Holyhead railway, also, has a station at Greenfield; and the Chester and Holyhead road passes through the town itself. The market, which is held on Friday, was, until within the last few years, considered to be the best in North Wales; but the corporation of Denbigh having reformed their table of tolls, and the same heavy rate of tolls continuing at Holywell, the market at the former place has increased in the same proportion as the market here has decreased. In 1844, a petition was presented to the late Marquess of Westminster as lord of the manor, praying for the abolition of the tolls on agricultural produce brought into the town; but no alteration has yet been effected. The fairs were originally obtained by the monks of Basingwerk, and were discontinued after the Dissolution; they were revived about eighteen years ago, but to no purpose, as they cannot be kept up, in consequence of the long-established fair which is held at Caerwys, about five miles only from this town. By the act for "Amending the Representation of the People," Holywell was created one of the eight contributory boroughs within the county, which unite in returning a member to parliament. The right of election here is vested in every male person of full age, occupying either as owner, or as tenant under the same landlord, a house or other premises of the annual value of not less than £10, provided he be capable of registering as the act requires. The limits of the borough are described in the Appendix, and the number of houses of the value above-mentioned is at present rather more than 150. The powers of the county debt-court of Holywell, established in 1847, extend over part of the registration-district of Holywell. Petty-sessions for the division are held here once a month.
The living is a discharged vicarage, rated in the king's books at £9. 15., endowed with £200 private benefaction and £200 royal bounty, and in the patronage of the Proprietor of the estate of Llanerch, in the county of Denbigh, on the nomination of the Principal and Fellows of Jesus' College, Oxford; present net income, £250, with a glebe-house; impropriators, Mrs. Allanson, and D. Pennant, Esq. The great tithes have been commuted for a rentcharge of £959. 19. 3., and the vicarial for one of £271. 5. The church, dedicated to St. Winifred, and rebuilt in 1769, is a spacious structure of Norman architecture, sixty-eight feet long and fifty-six wide, consisting of a nave, with north and south aisles, and a chancel, in which is a handsome east window, embellished with modern stained glass; it has also two spacious galleries over the aisles, and the whole is calculated to contain about 2000 persons. The steeple is plain, square, and very strongly built. Remains of the ancient edifice, which was of the same dimensions as the present church, are yet to be seen in the remarkably plain pillars on each side of the nave of the latter. Part of the churchyard forms a gentle slope, but the greater portion is almost precipitous. A new church has been erected in the hamlet of Bagillt. There are places of worship in the town for Baptists, Independents, Wesleyans, Calvinistic Methodists, Methodists of the New Connexion, and Roman Catholics. In the township of Bagillt are also places of worship for Independents, Wesleyans, and Calvinistic Methodists; in that of Brynvordd, one for Independents; and in that of Greenfield, two or three places of worship.
The grammar-school, of which the first mention is dated 1762, is held in the ancient chapel of St. Winifred, and conducted by a master who is a classical scholar, assisted by an usher. The master has at present nearly thirty classical pupils that pay for their education, and engages to instruct eight poor boys in reading, writing, and arithmetic, the Scriptures, and the Church Catechism, in consideration of an endowment of £8 per annum. There is a National school for boys and girls, commenced in 1818, and taught by a master and mistress in separate rooms of a school built for the purpose: an infants' school, established in 1843, is taught by a mistress in a third apartment in the same building. Another boys' school is held, in which thirty of the scholars are gratuitously educated from an endowment of £25 per annum, received out of Dr. Daniel Williams's general fund for the instruction of the poor. A small school for girls is supported by subscription; and in the township of Bagillt are some schools, noticed in the article on that place. The parish contains about twenty Sunday schools, of which four are held at Bagillt.
A dispensary for the relief of the poor has been established, and is liberally supported by subscription. Ellis Parry, a native of Bagillt and a citizen of London, in 1628, bequeathed a messuage, tenement, and lands, in the township of Bagillt, comprising thirtyfour acres, let on lease at a rent of £45, which is distributed weekly in bread, with a gift of £1. 4. by Griffith Jones to the poor of the parish. The same benefactor left a rent-charge of £6, to be paid out of his tenements in London, of which £2 were to be appropriated to placing out two boys in service, the same sum as a marriage portion to two poor maids, and the remainder to be equally divided between the vicar and the churchwardens. Edward George, in 1640, bequeathed a messuage and thirteen parcels of land in the parish of Ysceiviog, for clothing the poor of this parish annually: of this land, six parcels appear to have been lost through neglect, but the remainder, comprising fifteen acres, is let on lease at a rental of about £20, which is distributed in clothing at Christmas. Mrs. Catherine Jones and Mrs. Sidney Edwards gave to the incumbent the sum of £130 in trust for the poor. Mrs. Ellis, of Bagillt, bequeathed £10; and David Parry, of the same township, £50, to which £10 were added by his executors, William Wenlock and John Lloyd, the interest of which sums has been lost, together with that of £17 obtained from the sale of Irish cattle seized under an act of parliament prohibiting their importation, and with that of another sum of £30 on mortgage. Margaret Pennant, of Mertyn, widow, bequeathed to the poor, in 1691, a rent-charge of £1. 10.; Mr. Middleton made a grant of £100; and David Pennant, the younger, Esq., gave £600, in 1835, the interest to be divided between the poor of this parish and Whitford. Mrs. Jones also bequeathed the sum of £13, which has been deposited since 1826 in the savings' bank, and of which the interest is applied to the same purpose. The poor-law union whereof this town is the head, was formed February 25th, 1837, and comprises the following parishes, &c.; namely, Caerwys, Flint, Gwaenyscor, Halkin, Holywell, Kîlken, Llanasaph, Mold town, Nannerch, Nerquis chapelry, Newmarket, Northop, Whitford, and Ysceiviog; it is under the superintendence of twenty-seven guardians, and contains a population of 40,787.
Among the various endowments of the ancient abbey of Basingwerk, which consisted of possessions widely scattered, were the Spon chapel at Coventry, in the county of Warwick, the churches of Glossop and Longdendale, in the county of Derby, and other property in distant places. The remains of the conventual buildings, which are considerable, are situated near the mouth of the Holywell stream, on a slope towards the sea, protected on the west by a deep gully formed by the stream, and on the northeast by the vast ditch and rampart forming the ancient line of demarcation called Wat's Dyke, which, proceeding northward through the Strand Fields, near Holywell, terminates on the sea-shore below the abbey. They display various styles of architecture, from the rudest circular arch and low massive column of the earlier Norman, to the middle era of the early English style. The church, which, from the traces of its foundations, appears to have been an extensive structure, has disappeared with the exception of the southern transept, and a few courses of the outer wall of the southern aisle. Two of the Norman arches of the monastery are entire, and the eastern walls of the conventual buildings, with narrow lancet-shaped windows, are almost perfect; the south gable of the refectory, with its beautiful windows, is in tolerable preservation, and the whole of these venerable ruins have an imposing and interesting appearance. The site and revenue of the abbey were granted, in the 32nd of Henry VIII., to Henry ab Harry, whose daughter conveyed them by marriage to the Mostyn family, of Talacre, ancestor of Sir Pyers Mostyn, Bart., the present proprietor. In the field adjoining the abbey were till lately the remains of an ancient oak, of large dimensions and venerable appearance, even in its decayed state: it was called the Abbot's Oak, and is supposed to have been planted in the time of the last abbot. This oak-tree was blown down in Jan. 1842, and the trunk was carried to Talacre, the seat of Sir Pyers Mostyn, where it is now to be seen. In various places are vestiges of a fine broad road anciently leading through the woods from the abbey to St. Winifred's well. The name of a hill of narrow and steep ascent immediately above the church, called Bry;n-y-Castell, appears to mark it as the site of the castle of Trêffynnon, supposed to have been built by Ranulph, Earl of Chester, about the year 1210, but of which no historical notice is preserved, and of which the only vestiges are some small portions of its foundations. In digging the foundation of some of the smelting-houses, the remains of a Roman hypocaust were discovered, a circumstance corroborating the supposition that the mines of this place, which are proved to have been worked at a very early period, were not unknown to the Romans. An eminence in the parish, called Bryn Dychwelwch, or "the return hill," is said to have been the place from which Henry II. gave orders for the retreat of his forces, when his whole army was engaged in the defile at Coleshill. The commemoration of St. Winifred's decollation is still annually celebrated on the 22nd of June, and that of the translation of her remains to Shrewsbury on the 3rd of November.
Hope, or Estyn
HOPE, or ESTYN, an extensive parish, in the union of Wrexham, Hope division of the hundred of Maelor, county of Flint, North Wales, 5½ miles (N. N. W.) from Wrexham, 12½ (S. S. E.) from Flint, and 193 (N. W.) from London; containing 2916 inhabitants. This place has been distinguished in the Welsh border history from a very early period. Caergwyrle Castle, in the parish, situated about a mile from the village, is supposed to have derived its name from the ancient British words Caer gawr lleng, signifying "the fortress of the gigantic legion;" in explanation of which etymology it is stated that the native Britons gave the distinguishing appellation of "gigantic" to the twentieth Roman legion, surnamed Victrix, whose principal station was Deva, now Chester. This conjecture has received material support from the circumstance of a Roman sudatory having been found here, and from vestiges of Roman roads and other works having been formerly visible in the neighbourhood; from which the place may be presumed to have been, like Holt, an outpost to the grand station of Deva. After the withdrawal of the Roman forces from Britain, it appears, from remains still existing, to have been occupied as a post of defence by the native population, who, at some remote period, erected a mural fortress here, which, in the reign of Henry II., formed part of the possessions of a chieftain named Grufydd Maelor. The first mention of Hope under its present name occurs in the Norman survey, where it is noticed as a small hamlet belonging to one Gislebert. It gave name to the extensive territory of Hopedale, for which Eustace de Cruer, in the reign of William Rufus, did homage to that monarch, and which appears subsequently to have formed part of the possessions of the Montaltos, stewards of Chester.
The castle, with its dependent territories, was bestowed by Edward I. on Davydd, the brother of Llewelyn ab Grufydd, Prince of North Wales; who, about the year 1280, was sued for the village of Hope, or Estyn, by William Venables, an Englishman, before the Justiciary of Chester, contrary to the custom of the Welsh, and to the spirit of the agreement under which he held it of the English king. The Justiciary cut down his woods in the neighbourhood of Hope, as well as those of Lleweny, another of his estates, and sold the timber, which was carried to Ireland. He was moreover threatened, that when Reginald de Grey, the other Justiciary, should come into the country, he should be deprived of his castle of Hope, and that his children should be secured as pledges of his fidelity to the English cause, which however, undoubtedly influenced by this harsh treatment, as well as by other cogent reasons, he shortly after abandoned for that of his brother and his country. In consequence of this defection, about the middle of June, 1282, Edward I. in person invested Hope Castle, which was surrendered to him by the dependents of Davydd, almost as soon as he appeared before it, and which he is said to have granted to his queen Eleanor, who rested in it for one night on her route to Carnarvon, where she was about to reside for the purpose of reconciling the newly subjugated Welsh to the government of their English conquerors, by giving birth, in the heart of their ancient dominions, to a prince destined to be their ruler. It is related in Yorke's "Royal Tribes," that while Edward and his consort were staying here, this castle, either by accident or design, was set on fire, and its interior entirely consumed. From the circumstance of its being in the possession of Eleanor, it obtained the name of Queen's Hope; and it has sometimes likewise been distinguished by the appellation of East Hope, in contradistinction to North Hope, or Northop: some derive the word Hope from the Welsh Hob, "a swelling," from the inequalities and rising hills about the fortress. In Edward's division of North Wales into counties after its entire subjugation, Hope was included in that of Flint, and annexed to the earldom of Chester; and the castle, together with the manor of Hope and Hopedale, has always been specified in the charters of the succeeding sovereigns of England, when they respectively created their eldest son, the heir apparent to the crown, Prince of Wales, at the same time investing him with the earldom of Chester.
In 1307 this castle and manor were granted to John de Cromwell, on condition that he should repair the former, which was then in a ruinous state; and in 1317, the same Cromwell, who kept possession of the castle till his death, was ordered to raise fifty foot-soldiers on his lands in Wales, to aid the king in his war against Scotland. In a survey of the ancient revenue of the earldom of Chester, made in the reign of Edward III., the profits of the manor of Hope and Hopedale are estimated at £63. Edward the Black Prince gave the inhabitants a charter of incorporation, dated at Chester, in 1351, which was confirmed by Richard II., who, in 1388, granted the territory of Hope and Hopedale to John de Holland, Earl of Huntingdon: this nobleman, after the deposition of King Richard by Bolingbroke, was beheaded by the populace at Pleshey, in the county of Essex. In 1401, Henry IV. granted the manor to Sir John Stanley, whose estates were inherited by his descendant, James, Lord Stanley, created Earl of Derby by Henry VII. On the arrangements made with regard to the Welsh border counties, in the reign of Henry VIII., Hope was annexed to the county of Denbigh; but shortly afterwards, probably through the influence of the Earl of Derby, who wished to have all his Welsh possessions in the same county, it was restored to the shire within the limits of which it had been originally included by Edward I.
The parish is situated on the road from Wrexham to Mold, and also on that from Wrexham to King's Ferry. It is bounded on the north by the parish of Hawarden, on the south by Wrexham, on the east by the county of Chester, on the north-west by the parish of Mold, and on the west by the chapelry of Tryddin, in the parish of Mold. It comprises by computation 8500 acres, of which 4666 are arable, 2333 meadow and pasture, 367 woodland, and the remainder rough pasture and waste. The soil is exceedingly various, passing through several distinct kinds and admixtures, from stiff clayey earth to the lightest loam and sand; the chief agricultural produce is wheat and barley, and the lands are enriched with plantations of oak, ash, sycamore, and beech. In some parts the surface is low and flat, in others hilly and mountainous, and from the latter portions fine and extensive views may be obtained of the circumjacent country; the home views are particularly pleasing, being marked by many beautiful woody dingles, enlivened by the windings of the river Alyn and some other interesting streams. Bry;n-Yorkyn, a lofty eminence, is situated to the west of the castle; besides which, there are the hills of Caer-Estyn and Caergwyrle Castle. The principal gentleman's seat is Plâs-Têg, the ancient mansion of the Trevors, built in 1610 by Sir John Trevor, a second son of the branch of Trêvalyn, in the parish of Gresford. The parish contains the villages or hamlets of Hope, Caergwyrle, Cevnybedd, and Penymynydd: Hope is an insignificant village, agreeably situated on a gentle rise on the northern side of the river Alyn. An abundance of limestone of good quality is found in the parish: the Frith lime-works are conducted on an extensive scale, affording employment to between thirty and forty workmen; and great quantities of lime are sent hence to Chester, a distance of twelve miles. Coal-works also have been opened, at which a few men are engaged. The Chester and Shrewsbury railway passes in the vicinity of the parish; and in 1847 an act was obtained for making a railway from Mold to the Chester and Holyhead line in the parish of Hawarden, with a branch of four miles to the Frith lime-works.
By the charter of Edward the Black Prince, it was provided, that the constable of the castle of Caergwyrle, or Hope, for the time being, should be mayor of the borough; but, to qualify him for this office, it was necessary that he should solemnly swear, on the Holy Evangelists, that he would preserve inviolate the privileges of the burgesses, as specified in the said charter; and that he would annually, on Michaelmas-day, choose from among their number two bailiffs. By the 27th of Henry VIII. Caergwyrle, or Hope, was constituted a contributory borough, to share with Flint, Caerwys, Overton, and Rhuddlan, in the return of a member to serve in parliament. The limits of the borough comprise the whole of the township of Estyn, and that of Caergwyrle, with part of that of Rhanbervedd, being two miles and a half in extent from east to west, and one and a half from north to south; and the right of voting is vested in all the inhabitants paying scot and lot, who have resided for one year within the borough, of whom the present number is about 120. The Act of 1832, for "Amending the Representation of the People," added the towns of St. Asaph, Holywell, and Mold, to the above-mentioned district of boroughs, but did not alter the boundaries of this borough, nor the nature of the franchise here, except by subjecting each voter to the registry. Fairs are held on Shrove-Tuesday, May 10th, August 12th, and October 27th.
The living is a discharged vicarage, rated in the king's books at £6. 13. 4., and endowed with £200 private benefaction, and £200 royal bounty; present net income, £214, with a glebe-house; patron, the Bishop of St. Asaph. The tithes of the parish, which comprehends six townships, are distributed in unequal portions (according to an appropriation of certain townships to the several parties for the purpose), to the Dean and Chapter of Winchester, the rector, and the poor of St. John's Hospital in Chester. The church, a small edifice, dedicated to St. Cynvarch, and rebuilt about the year 1812, consists of two aisles separated by well-proportioned pillars, and measures sixty feet in length, and forty in breadth; it has its eastern windows in the later English style, and contains about 460 sittings. In the interior are some good marble tablets, and an old monument to the memory of Sir John Trevor, Knt., secretary to the Earl of Nottingham, the vanquisher of the "invincible armada," and comptroller of the navy in the reigns of Elizabeth and James I.: the church has also a monument to another of the Trevors, representing a man in a gown and ruff, and a lady with a kerchief over her neck. There are places of worship for Calvinistic Methodists, Wesleyan Methodists, and Independents. Two Church schools are supported, chiefly by subscription; one of them, at Hope, for boys and girls, taught separately by a master and mistress; the other, at Llanvynydd, also for boys and girls, taught together by a master. Of nine Sunday schools in the parish, one is in connexion with the Established Church. Various small rent-charges, producing altogether £5. 12. 8. per annum, are applied in the distribution of bread among the poor, who also derive benefit from a farm of eleven acres called Meynell in Heartsheath, parish of Mold, purchased for £103, the amount of several consolidated charities, in 1750, and paying £10 per annum, of which £8 are distributed among them. A bequest by Sir John Trevor in 1672, amounting to £6 per annum, has been lost.
The present remains of the castle form a picturesque ruin, situated on the summit of a rocky hill of great elevation, isolated from the surrounding high grounds, and composed almost entirely of breccia, which was formerly quarried for mill-stones. On one side this rock is precipitous, and on every other is inaccessible, except only on the north, where its summit is gained by the remains of a circuitous path. The ruins consists of a decayed circular tower, with a few fragments of walls and circumjacent earthworks. From these it does not appear to have been an extensive fortress; but the strength of its situation was well adapted for the defence of the passage from the Marches up the vale of the Alyn, which is here contracted into a romantic dingle, and anciently formed the only pass through the neighbouring hills. By whom it was dismantled, or when it fell into decay, is unknown; but it was in a dilapidated state as early as the reign of Henry VIII. On the opposite elevation, across the vale, is an ancient British post, commonly called Caer Estyn, consisting of a wide area inclosed by a single ditch and rampart. The ancient Roman outpost of "Caer gawr lleng" is supposed to have occupied the site on which the castle was subsequently erected. In 1606, a Roman hypocaust, or sudatory, was discovered in digging near the fortress; it was five ells long, four broad, and half an ell high, and was hewn out of the solid rock. The floor was of brick set in mortar; the roof, supported by hollow brick pillars, consisted of polished tiles, which in several places were perforated, and over which were laid brick tubes: some of the tiles were inscribed legio xx. Other traces of Roman occupation also formerly existed in the parish. Large beds of scoria have been discovered near Caer Estyn, shewing, probably, that Roman iron-works were carried on here; and two Roman roads might formerly be traced in several places leading hence towards Mold and Hawarden respectively, adjacent to one of which was an artificial mount.
In the township of Uwchymynydd-Isa, in a little valley on the southern side of Bryn-Yorkyn mountain, are some remains of Offa's Dyke, near the spot where this ancient line of demarcation enters the county of Flint from Denbighshire. In levelling the Dyke, in 1828, twenty-two Roman coins of copper were discovered, among which were some of the Emperors Nero, Vespasian, Trajan, Julius, Agricola, and Maximilian: here were also found a silver coin of Agrippa, several fibulæ highly ornamented, rings of gold, silver, and copper, pins of ivory and silver, beads of glass and amber, part of a lamp with the word ninvs impressed on it, a votive altar with a mutilated inscription, and several urns containing calcined bones and ashes; all of which are in the possession of the proprietor of the land. Wat's Dyke also traverses the parish, in its course along the eastern bank of the Alyn, passing by the church of Hope, and by Rhyddin, below Caer Estyn, beyond which it soon enters Denbighshire.
On the banks of the Alyn at Rhyddin are some fine springs, the waters of which are strongly impregnated with muriate of soda, and were formerly in high repute for their efficacy in the cure of cutaneous and other diseases, greatly resembling in quality those of the fountain at Borrowdale, near Keswick, in Cumberland. In dry weather, pigeons flock to them to pick up the crystallized particles; but their medicinal virtues have been greatly deteriorated by an admixture of other waters, or impoverished by drainage. In the loose earth that covers the calcareous strata of the parish are found numerous antediluvian organic remains, called entrochi and astroites, some of which are of a peculiar species.
HOPE, a township, in the parish of Buttington, incorporation of Forden, within the jurisdiction of the borough of Welshpool, county of Montgomery, North Wales, 2 miles (S.) from Welshpool; containing 179 inhabitants. It is situated on the banks of the Severn. The tithes of this township and that of Cletterwood have been commuted for £207. 10., of which £154 are payable to the Dean and Chapter of Christ Church, Oxford.
Hopton Isa, or Lower Hopton
HOPTON ISA, or LOWER HOPTON, a hamlet, in that part of the parish of Churchstoke which is in the hundred of Cawrse, in the county of Montgomery, North Wales; containing 39 inhabitants. The tithes of this township and of Bachelden, which are the property of Trinity Hospital in Clun, have been commuted for a rent-charge of £166 per annum.
Hopton Ucha, or Upper Hopton
HOPTON UCHA, or UPPER HOPTON, a hamlet, in that part of the parish of Churchstoke which is in the hundred of Montgomery, in the county of Montgomery, North Wales; containing 65 inhabitants. The tithes have been commuted for a rent-charge of £50.
HOSELEY, with Merford, a lordship and hamlet, in the parish of Gresford, union of Wrexham, partly in the hundred of Bromfield, county of Denbigh, and partly in that of Mold, county of Flint, North Wales, 4 miles (N. E.) from the town of Wrexham; containing 285 inhabitants. —See Merford.
HUBBERSTON, a parish, in the poor-law union of Haverfordwest, hundred of Rhôs, county of Pembroke, South Wales, 1 mile (W. by N.) from Milford; containing 1174 inhabitants, of whom 737 are in that part of the parish which is within the borough of Milford. This parish is traversed by the turnpike-road leading from Haverfordwest to Haking, or Old Milford, and is bounded by the parish of Herbrandston on the north, and by that of Steynton on the north-east. It is situated on a creek or inlet of Milford Haven, at the upper end of which are the remains of a religious establishment, formerly called Pill Priory, built upon a pill separating this parish from that of Steynton, and which, though it has obtained the name of Hubberston Priory, is within the limits of Steynton. The parish comprises 1270a. 3r. 9p., whereof about 270 acres are arable, and the remainder pasture, with a few acres of woodland: wheat and barley are the chief produce of the land under tillage, which is very rich and fertile. The seat of Gelliswick is beautifully situated, and embraces rich views of the picturesque scenery of the locality, the more distant views reaching over the harbour of Milford and the fine expanse of the adjacent Haven. St. Botolphs, an elegant modern mansion, erected on the site of some of the buildings of the priory, though not within the parish, closely borders upon it, and is equally remarkable for the style of the building and the beauty of its situation, commanding a pleasing view of the Haven, and of the neighbouring country: nearly the whole of the farm attached to the estate is situated within the parish of Hubberston. Boat-building is carried on to a considerable extent at Haking, or Old Milford, in the parish, and about 200 shipwrights reside at that place, which is included within the boundaries of the new contributory borough of Milford.
The living is a rectory, rated in the king's books at £6. 2. 8½., and in the patronage of the Lord Chancellor: the tithes have been commuted for a rent-charge of £180, and there is a glebe of nine acres, valued at £18 per annum; also a glebe-house. The church, dedicated to St. David, is a small, ancient, and venerable structure, in the early style of English architecture, with a lofty square embattled tower: in the chancel are three elegantly canopied recesses, probably intended for the officiating priests, or perhaps appropriated to the dignitaries of the priory on particular occasions. The parsonagehouse was rebuilt and greatly improved at the expense of the late rector. A Church Sunday school is supported; and there are places of worship for Wesleyans and Calvinistic Methodists, with a Sunday school held in each of them. Mr. Thomas Roch, in 1707, bequeathed a small rent-charge for teaching poor children, and for the relief of distressed housekeepers of the parish; and in 1752, Mr. James Allen bequeathed £50 in money, to be invested in the purchase of land, and the rent distributed among the poor: the bequests produce about £3 a year.
HYSSINGTON (called by the Welsh IS-ATTYN), a parish, in the union of Clun, partly in the hundred of Chirbury, county of Salop, but chiefly in the Lower division of the hundred of Montgomery, county of Montgomery, North Wales, 3 miles (E. by N.) from Churchstoke; containing 364 inhabitants, of whom 300 are in Hyssington township. This parish is intersected by the road from Churchstoke to Shrewsbury, and is bounded on the north and east by Shropshire, on the south by the parish of Snead, and on the west by Churchstoke. It comprises about 2500 acres, of which 2000 are arable, pasture, and woodland, and the remainder common, or land just inclosed. The soil passes through several varieties, from the stiffest clay to the lightest earth; the latter produces fine barley and turnips, besides which wheat, oats, peas, and potatoes are grown. The land in general is undulated; it is ornamented in various parts with oak, ash, and elm, and has numerous rivulets and brooks. A mountain, at the foot of which the village is situated, rises to the height of upwards of 1700 feet above the level of the sea, and forms the forest of Corndon, or Carn Attyn, which is principally within the parish. This mountain has three summits, formed by three cairns, the supposed sepulchres of ancient British heroes, which command extensive views, embracing the Welsh mountains, and the Wrekin, Clee, Malvern, and other hills, together with the Black Mountain in Herefordshire.
The living is a perpetual curacy, endowed with £600 private benefaction, £600 royal bounty, and £1100 parliamentary grant; net income, £161; patron, the Rev. R. E. Owen; impropriators, W. Pinches and J. Clayton, Esqrs. The impropriate tithes have been commuted for a rent-charge of £170, and those payable to the perpetual curate for one of £11. The church is a small structure, about fifty feet in length, in the early style of English architecture, and appears to have been built within the precincts of an ancient castle, of which some vestiges may be distinctly traced on the summit of a small rocky eminence adjoining the churchyard. Upon an old bell in the steeple, now broken, was inscribed, in Saxon characters, "Sancta Etheldreda, ora pro nobis." Edward Stretford, in 1767, left £10, the interest to be distributed among the poor, and Dorothy Griffiths left £5 for a like purpose; the two sums were expended in renewing the church about sixty years since, but the interest continues to be paid, and is distributed with a rent-charge of 2s. upon the Yew-tree farm, by the minister and churchwardens, among the poorest people not receiving parochial aid. On a farm in the parish, called "the Llan," are the remains of an encampment.