Yesterday I briefly talked about the remaining evidence of the gardens on the Brymbo Estate. There isn’t much, but there is enough of a record through maps and photographs to give some idea of the house’s landscape setting and of what was lost through neglect and opencast mining.

Other evidence may still exist in estate records, some of which survive thanks to their inclusion in papers relating to the estate of Brogyntyn in Shropshire, whose owners had a close legal involvement with Brymbo in the days before John Wilkinson bought it.

I previously mentioned the trees ordered by Mary Griffith (then going by the name of Mary Owen, being married to Arthur) which may give a rough date for the creation of at least some of the garden. The invoice for them still exists in the National Library of Wales. Thomas Wright received payment on October 19, 1732 “by the hand of Mr Griffith” – presumably the Owens’ estate manager – for the trees “delivered at Wrexham“, which included:

  • 56 pears, plums, cherries and quince at 9d. each
  • 150 apple trees at 6d. each
  • 2 dozen “Spanish nuts
  • 2 dozen “large gosberrys
  • 3 yew trees “for a hedg” (sic)

I am sure that some at least of these trees ended up at Brymbo, as the family’s house at Wrexham (Brynyffynnon Gatehouse) had no garden space to speak of. Some of them no doubt stocked the orchard I mentioned in my last post, though the Spanish nuts must surely have ended up under glass.

Brymbo Hall in 1748

The earliest depiction of Brymbo Hall, from a 1748 panorama of Wrexham. While a lot of artistic licence has been used, the terraced parts of the gardens are still hinted at.

It would have been wonderful to find some documents relating to the construction of features of the garden itself, but with one exception I’ve not tracked anything down – yet. The estate accounts, however, do include many bills presented by local tradesmen to the Clayton and Owen family: a stonemason William Kendrick and the estate carpenter Benjamin Thomas appear several times (the latter charging for work to panelling, staircases, dog kennels, gunstocks, and furniture).

The ‘exception’ I mentioned was for work to the well at Brymbo, which appears several times during the 1730s. My feeling is that the well is closely related to the cold bath house mentioned on some estate records and formed its water supply. In August-September 1733, John Clubb had been carrying out work on “Madam Owen’s well […] in hewing the upper Course“. Was this the watercourse which seems to have carried away the well’s water to the fishpond below? Earlier, on Feb 17th 1729, Arthur Owen was presented with a bill from Nathaniel Wright for 16 feet of piping, 40 pounds of “soder used at ye pump” and 60 pounds of lead, plus 9 days of labour by Wright and his son. In 1738 William Kendrick worked “at setting of brick in [the] well“; 9 feet of stone flags were also laid there. Again, I wonder if this is in reference to the cold bath. Either way, it is interesting to know the names of the men who worked on the estate. Kendrick also flagged the farmhouse at Penrhos in 1735, charging £8 2s 6d, while Thomas Jones slated it: as the house still exists, there is a reasonable chance some of their handiwork still exists too.