For this instalment of ‘five interesting things about places in Wrexham County Borough’, we’re looking at Chirk 🙂
There’s plenty to take you through, so let’s get cracking with our number one pick, which – let’s face it – will probably come as little surprise…
1. Chirk Castle
Chirk Castle was built in 1295 by Roger Mortimer de Chirk and it was part of King Edward I’s group of fortresses across North Wales, used to keep Wales under English rule.
The castle was built with defensive strategy in mind, including having five-metre thick walls. The entire build was extremely well thought-out.
In 1595, Sir Thomas Myddleton purchased Chirk Castle for £5,000 – which sounds like quite a small sum by today’s standards – but actually, it wasn’t.
Thomas then spent large amounts to improve the castle, including building the North Range and the State Rooms, with the intention of using it as his family home…but he resided mainly in Essex.
Over the next 400 years, the Myddelton family ruled from Chirk Castle, with subsequent generations consisting of ambitious industrialists, entrepreneurs, and politicians.
In 1910, Thomas Scott-Ellis fell in love with Chirk Castle and negotiated to lease it from the Myddleton’s. This lasted until 1946, when he eventually retired back to his Scottish estates.
Today, the National Trust owns it and the public have the opportunity to visit.
Visitors to Chirk Castle get to travel through the State Rooms, pass the Cromwell Hall (which has rare Civil War firearms), visit the Chapel, walk in the beautiful gardens, and witness the Servants Hall, amongst many other highlights.
There’s also a number of activities here that you could join in with, such as Nordic walking and identifying trees in winter.
Chirk Castle is simply a great place to visit 🙂
2. Brynkinalt Country Park
Much less well-known than Chirk Castle, but charming in its own unique way, Brynkinalt Country Park is a great choice for our second pick.
It’s been described as a ‘hidden gem’ as it probably doesn’t attract the same numbers of visitors that some of our other country parks do.
But if you visit, you’ll be treated to a network of paths guiding you through the landscape and an abundance of wildflowers and wildlife (look out for some very pretty blue butterflies in the summer months).
The park also contains cool mining artefacts – a coal wagon and cutting disc – to celebrate the park’s industrial heritage.
Here’s a short video to give you a taster…
3. Chirk Aqueduct
Chirk Aqueduct was built by Thomas Telford and William Jessop, and it consists of ten arches – each with a span of 40 feet.
The build was completed in 1801, and it makes up part of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct World Heritage Site.
The Aqueduct canal sits 70 feet above the beautiful Ceiriog Valley, and it’s a must-see if you area in the area.
It’s been described as an “incredible feat of engineering” and there’s no escaping the magnificence.
Our blog article on the larger Pontcysyllte Aqueduct gives an insight into how Telford, Jessop and others worked together to bring their vision into reality.
But you still can’t help wondering when looking directly at it – ‘how on earth did that get there?’
4. Chirk and River Ceiriog walk
There’s plenty of choice around this area if you’re a keen walker, but this one is particularly nice.
It’s a circular walk that takes you from Chirk (starting near the railway station), to Chirk Castle, before descending to the River Ceiriog, with a walk along the river back into Chirk.
There’s great scenery in all directions, so make sure you have a camera or smartphone handy.
It’s around seven miles long, so you’ll probably need a full day to take it all in and stop for breaks. Or if you don’t stop, expect it to take you around four hours to complete.
Like with many local walks, we have a great guide for this route that you can download from our website.
So grab those walking boots…that’s if you haven’t already left to visit Brynkinalt Country Park 😉
5. Billy Meredith
William Henry Meredith, better known as Billy, was born in Chirk in 1874 and he went on to become a professional football player.
He played to a very high level – he represented both Manchester clubs – and he was capped 48 times for Wales, scoring 11 goals.
He’s been described as ‘Chirk’s most famous son’ and ‘Manchester United’s first superstar’ – two incredible claims to fame.
His favourite position was ‘outside right’. For those unfamiliar with this role, think of a young Cristiano Ronaldo-style – playing from the right of the pitch, with an intent to attack.
He was part of the group of players that helped United win their first-ever league title. He would go on to add another league title, an FA Cup, and two Charity Shields in his time there.
More of Billy’s story can be found in this BBC News article. He was a fascinating character who unbelievably continued to play professionally into his fiftieth year!
We hope you enjoyed this instalment, and as always, keep your eyes peeled for the next one.