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Looking up the hill from the Gwenfro, towards Vron Farm. The dyke can be seen on the right

So far on this site I’ve managed to cover most of the basic history of the southern and eastern part of the township of Brymbo; the ownership of its land and the growth of its settlements. The north and west, Harwood and Glascoed, will come later. But to tie up any loose ends, imagine walking northwards along the lane marked on maps as Llewelyn Road. This road is particularly interesting, as for most of its length it shadows Offa’s Dyke, the ancient earthwork that cuts the township of Brymbo in two. Despite the fact this is not a well-known section of the dyke (the long-distance path named after it goes nowhere near here) sections of it are very well-preserved, with a large bank and ditch clearly visible.

Standing at the centre of the bridge over the Gwenfro, facing north, you are passing from the old township of Bersham into that of Brymbo. Behind you is the wooded river valley; the 17th century farmhouse of Llidiart Fanny, with its immense stone chimney, sitting at the very top of the hill. The bridge itself is a fine stone structure and was probably built at the end of the 18th century, when the road from Southsea to Minera, onto which it joins, was “made turnpike”; before that time there may have been a ford or smaller bridge. There are in fact still two nearby fords; one by the Hafod farm, out of sight in the trees to the west of the dyke, and one upstream of the lane from Pentre’r-fron. They are now on little-used footpaths, though the fords probably wet the boots of many farmers, and many colliers taking a shortcut to work, over the years. Both paths lead up to the ridgeline of the hill, as old rights of way (particularly those used by drovers) often do, one heading to the hamlet of Pentre’r-fron, and another across the fields to that of Pentresaeson.

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Arthur Owen, of Brymbo Hall (1692-1739). Collection of the NLW

In the last article, we saw how the lives of many people can now only be traced through the legal records they left behind: deeds, wills and court cases. This was mainly because property was all-important. Those not so fortunate as the Brymbo estate’s successive owners, who owned large amounts of land, have gone almost unrecorded, except as names in tax assessments or parish books.

Even so, despite their socially elevated status, most of the Griffith family, the Brymbo ‘squires’ until the 18th century, remain almost faceless. None of them appear in the Civil War records, for example. We know that the last of them, Robert, served as High Sheriff of Denbighshire, had coalmining interests, was called “Robin” by his associates and outlived his son and heir, passing the estate to his daughter Mary instead. He briefly appears in the household accounts of Erddig, making a gift of a white hen which he describes as “very good”. Unless some correspondence turns up, this is pretty much all we will ever know. However, both Mary herself – and her third husband, at least – have left enough records behind to tell us a little about their lives.

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This is site about Brymbo, a township once part of Denbighshire, and its history. You can read more about the site in general, start with the most recent posts or with the archives listed below.