Gresford - From 'A Topographical Dictionary of Wales' (1849)
GRESFORD, a parish, in the union of Wrexham, partly in the hundred of Bromfield, county of Denbigh, and partly in that of Mold, county of Flint, North Wales, 3 miles (N. E.) from Wrexham; containing 3928 inhabitants, of whom 574 are in the township of Gresford. This place is supposed to have derived its name, anciently Croesfordd, or "the road to the cross," from its situation near an ancient cross (within half a mile to the south of the present church) of which the shaft is still remaining. The parish is very extensive, comprising upwards of 12,000 acres; and the village is delightfully situated on the western side of the road from Wrexham to Chester, near the head of a beautiful valley, which opens into the Vale Royal of Cheshire, a tract of country remarkable for the richness of its soil, the beauty of its scenery, and the pleasingly diversified views which it presents. The little Vale of Gresford is one of the most lovely valleys in the principality, abounding with interesting objects, enlivened by the meanderings of the river Alyn through its meadows, and finely varied with richly wooded eminences, on one of which stands conspicuously the beautiful church, remarkable for the elegance of its architecture and for its picturesque appearance. The plantations and pleasure-grounds attached to the elegant villas and rural mansions which are scattered throughout this small but romantic dell, combine, with the natural beauties of its scenery, to render it in every respect one of the most attractive spots in this part of the country. Deeply sheltered in the vale is Gresford Lodge, a stately mansion, designed by Sir Jeffrey Wyatville, and one of the most tasteful and highly-finished edifices erected by that distinguished architect. In the parish are also Erddig, situated in a detached portion of it, the grounds of which are disposed with great taste, and beautifully adorned with wood; Gwersyllt Park; TrÍvalyn Hall, the ancient mansion of the Trevors; TrÍvalyn House; and several other mansions. It is bounded on the east by the Dee, and intersected by the Alyn, a tributary of that river; and on the banks of these streams, and of the Pulford brook, are extensive but not very rich tracts of meadow, which are frequently flooded: the soil is tolerably good. Coal is found within the parish, and mines are worked to a considerable extent in Gwersyllt township, where are also some mills for drawing wire, which afford employment to a small number of persons. The Chester and Shrewsbury railway runs along the Vale of Gresford, parallel with the river Alyn, and has stations at Rossett and Gresford. Fairs for cattle are held on the second Monday in April, the last Monday in August, Easter-Monday, June 24th, August 21st, and October 22nd.
The living is a vicarage, rated in the king's books at £21. 2. 3Ĺ., and endowed with five-sixteenths of the great tithes; present net income, £714; patron, the Bishop of St. Asaph. The impropriate tithes of the township of Gresford have been commuted for £102. 2., and the incumbent's tithes in the township for £76. 8.: the impropriate and vicarial glebes in the township comprise 184a. 3r. and 17a. 1r., respectively; and there is a glebe-house. The church, dedicated to All Saints, is a spacious and elegant structure, in the later style of English architecture, with a lofty square embattled tower, of fine proportions. This tower is richly ornamented on the summit with figures of the twelve apostles, alternated with crocketed pinnacles; and in the south-west angle with an elaborately enriched ogee canopy, surmounting a niche of beautiful design, in which is a statue of Henry VII. The interior of the church consists of a nave, chancel, and north and south aisles; the roofs of all these are of oak, panelled, and profusely ornamented with fruit and flowers exquisitely carved. The rood-loft screen, of very superior workmanship, is still remaining entire, and in the chancel are twelve ancient stalls of oak richly carved. In the north aisle is a beautiful niche, surmounted by an enriched canopy, and in the south aisle a piscina of elegant design; in several of the windows of the church are some fine remains of stained glass. Under an arch in the north aisle is an ancient stone coffin, on the lid of which is a shield charged with armorial bearings, round which is inscribed Hic jacet Gronow ap Iorworth ap Dafydd, &c., with the date 1321; and under a flat arch in the south aisle is an altar-tomb, with a recumbent effigy clothed in chain mail, supposed to represent Madoc ab Llewelyn ab Grufydd. There are several monuments to the Trevor family of TrÍvalyn, one of which, erected in 1638, during his lifetime, is to the memory of Sir Richard Trevor and his wife Catherine, who are represented in a kneeling posture; the inscription records that he served thirty years in the wars in Ireland, was governor of Newry and the counties of Down and Armagh, and vice-admiral of North Wales, and that he lived to see his great-grandchildren. In the chancel are, a monument by Westmacott, to the memory of J. Parry, Esq., formerly M. P. for the county of Carnarvon; and a white marble tablet to William Egerton, Esq., with a bust of this gentleman, finely executed by Chantrey. Within the last few years, a monumental brass, executed by Messrs. Waller, has been placed in the church; an instance of the revival of the ancient art of engraving monumental brasses. The bells of the church are particularly melodious. A chapel at Rossett has been lately rebuilt and endowed by John Townshend, Esq., of TrÍvalyn, and made a district church, with a portion of the parish ecclesiastically assigned to its minister for pastoral purposes. There was formerly a chapel of ease at Allington, but no vestiges of it are now discernible, except the cemetery. The dissenters have several places of worship.
Dame Margaret Strode, widow of Sir George Strode, of the Inner Temple, London, by will, in 1715, gave £500 in trust to the Bishop of St. Asaph and others, for the purchase of lands, the produce of which was to be appropriated to clothing and instructing three boys and three girls of the parish, and, if the funds would suffice, to apprenticing them to masters and mistresses of the Church of England. Of this sum, £450 were vested in the purchase of some land in the parish. Dame Dorothy Jeffreys, of Acton, in the parish of Wrexham, in 1728, gave £50 in trust for the instruction of poor children of this parish; and in 1758, the sum of £114 which had accumulated from the former legacy, and £86 from the latter, making together £200, were placed out in mortgage on a farm purchased by the parish, which realizes five per cent. interest. The annual income available from these endowments is £26, for which sum a few children are gratuitously taught in a large Church school for boys and girls, otherwise supported by school-pence and subscriptions. In the Rossett district is the Lavister infants' school, established in 1846, by Mrs. Barker, of Boughton, near Chester, at the expense of her family; and at Merford is a third school, conducted, like the others, on Church principles, and in which sixteen children are taught at the expense of Mrs. Griffiths, of TrÍvalyn Hall. There are several Sunday schools in the parish, of which by far the most considerable is held in the Gresford school-house, and the others are supported by the dissenters. Mrs. Shakerley, of Lower Gwersyllt, in 1757, bequeathed £200 for the purchase of lands, directing the rental to be applied in clothing, and apprenticing to husbandry and housewifery, six children of the parish; no application having been made for apprenticing for several years, this sum has accumulated, and the proceeds now amount to £45 per annum. Mrs. Jane Shakerley, in 1777, bequeathed £100, to be applied in the same manner as the last-named bequest. Mrs. Anne Shakerley, in 1748, and the dowager Lady Williams, each bequeathed £100, directing the interest to be laid out in clothing the aged poor of the parish, to which purpose is also applied the interest arising from the other benefactions, when no premiums are paid for apprenticing children, according to the intention of the respective benefactors. Near the church, and adjacent to the school-house, are two unendowed almshouses. John Davis, of London, in 1595, bequeathed a rent-charge of £13. 6. 8. on his estate at Allington to the poor of the parish, among whom are also distributed the proceeds of other charitable bequests.
Wat's Dyke may be distinctly traced along the eastern bank of the river Alyn, in a direction towards Caergwrle. Sir Richard Trevor, whose monument is in the church, was born in the parish, and resided at the ancient mansion in the hamlet of Allington, or, as it is sometimes called, TrÍvalyn: in this old Hall is his portrait, with some emblematic allusions to his former life as a warrior, and his subsequent application to devotion and retirement. At Merford is an ancient British camp, called "the Roft," on an eminence commanding prospects of great extent and variety, chiefly over the Vale Royal of Cheshire; and in the hamlet of Erddig is another strong intrenchment, called "the Roman Fort."