Wrexham County Borough 90 - Gresford /Gresford bells /the pond/the closed pubs/Pontycapel /the schools are out /the Maxxair has arrived /Ty Pawb did not win

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July 15th 2022
Published: July 15th 2022
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I don't particularly like this time of the year . The mornings are cool. The skies are like a grey blanket covering us and keeping the sun out. When the suns does appear it swelters . It is so muggy that the trousers I wore this morning are discarded for shorts . The thin jumper thrown back in the cupboard and the T Shirt dug out . The air feels still . The sun burns down . High summer has arrived and with it unpleasant sultry conditions . We don't do summer well . The grass is turning yellow . The hedgerows are dusty. The flowers in the fields are almost over . Everything looks a uniform yellow or off tinge of brown . The schools are out for summer . Well at least some of them have broken up for the summer break last week . Others finish today and a few will close down next week . It will be unpleasant trying to visit the seaside when the crowds are out and the beaches full of the families enjoying the summer holidays . It will be more of a home summer than an away one for us . We rarely travel far from the end of July , through August . Picking up travel again in early September . Prices in campsites are too high even if you could find one . Not for us this summer in Britain travelling . Covid too is raising its ugly head . Numbers are rising but hospital admission seem pretty stable . Hopefully they will stay this way . We still hear of cases . One reported in the Keep Fit class at the church this week . Life is still rumbling on with Covid . Bit like it is with Boris and the elections for the next Tory Leader . Unpleasant and unneccessary .

After the plans to go to see gardens were thwarted I began to think it was perhaps a godsend with hindsight . Who wants to see three gardens where the plants would be all the same ? Who wants to see border upon border of similar plantings ? And who wants to stand out in the sweltering heat . Perhaps the park was a good idea . At least there was shade . Our next stop would we hoped provide even more shade and something slightly different to a garden .

As we drove we talked about the new fan for the van which had turned up today . Unboxed it lies on the floor . The Maxxair is the new must have addition to motorhomes . No need to suffer the heat in the van when you can fit a 12 volt fan which will suck the hot air out . The old velux roof light needs to be removed . A job which should be easy . The sikaflex holding it will be a nightmare to take off and we need to make sure we pick a dry day . We don't want rain . That could ruin the whole operation . Also we don't want it too hot on top of the van roof . That will be unbearable . It is a no win situation at the moment trying to pick the right day . The job should be easy shouldn't it? Are these jobs easy ? . We will have a fan ready for our Late Summer trip . Well that is the plan . And of course all good plans ................

We drove down to Gresford . A lovely little village just a few miles out of Wrexham . A place I knew well . The sort of place where I found myself recalling tales again from childhood . Always walked down here with my gran and when I was a teenager walked for miles down Pontycapel Lane . Pont - a bridge , Capel - a chapel . So once there was a chapel on a bridge and this was the lane that led there . A railway station latterly converted to a halt . That closed in 1963 . I should remember it but I have no recollections despite many walks that way .

Colliers Park - where the Welsh FA national team practice . The new training facility looks excellent . New buildings and all on the old colliery land .

The old oak tree . Long gone with the stump carved into a bell . The bell is linked with Gresford in the old poem . The seven wonders of Wales . Or to be more precise the seven wonders of North Wales . Pistyll Rhaedr - a waterfall of 73 metres which falls over three stages . Not magnificent but substantial in our country . Wrexham St Giles church whose steeple can be seen for miles . The 21 yew trees in Overton churchyard . Planted between the 3rd and 12th centuries . St Winifreds Well - a place of pilgrimage and healing . Llangollen bridge dating back to 1500. Snowdonia - the highest mountain in Wales and finally what are described as the purist of tone bells in Wales . Sited in All Saints Gresford and that was where we were heading . We realised we ought to go to Snowdonia . A trip on the railway beckons . St Winifreds Wall is a must see . Perhaps when we come back from holiday and we have never seen the waterfall .

My stories continued . Lunches at the Plough and the now closed Yew Tree Inn. Cheese and onion baps . Playing dominoes . Games of 5's and 3's. The memories were flooding back as they always do when you return to a place of your youth . Potato picking in the 60's before mechanisation took over and for some reason potatoes no longer were grown . The pond and the pretty terraced red brick houses along its banks. We could not see much of the pond due to the car parking . A clue to how busy our small isle would be over the next six weeks .

We parked up outside the church . There were a number of entrance gates to the churchyard . All were locked with the exception of two . Facing each other across the graveyard . The sun was shining the church looked lovely in its setting. The Grade I listed church was described as the finest parish church in Wales and is reputed to have the most surviving medieval stained glass of any Welsh church. Similar in style to nearby Wrexham we were hoping that the doors would be open and we would be welcomed inside . I had been inside many times and even climbed at one stage down into the crypt . We were not sure what to expect today . We had the church entirely to ourselves . It was quiet and peaceful inside . The only sound the bells when they chimed the quarter hours .

We entered through the tiny north porch and large wooden door . The church was first mentioned in 1086 and many different churches had stood on this spot since the original probable wooden building . The site may have been a place of pilgrimage but any hint of that had long gone .The north porch was added in 1921 and was designed by Sir Thomas Jackson in Portland stone as a war memorial. Above the entrance is a figure of St George and the dragon. The eight small windows in this porch contain fragments of old glass which came originally from a window in the north aisle. These windows were tiny and were different to your usual later glass . More subdued and of a painted nature .

Inside we stood by the medieval stone font . Carved panels covered it and one depicted the Lion of St Mark . A reminder of Venice . Wall memorials spoke of the lives of the rich families in the area. The wooden roof was intricate and constructed of dark oak . Angels flew in the heavens and were not as highly decorated as you would expect . In one corner a small Romano British altar to an unknown god found in the churchyard . Nemesis mentioned and also a god who cut the thread of life .

St Catherines Chapel otherwise known as the Trevor Chapel contained the alabaster figure of Sion Trefor who died in 1589. He lay recumbent on a couch highly decorated and looking at us . What stories he could have told ? On one wall a modern fresco of the Gresford Colliery mining disaster . A depiction of the mine, the women waiting for news of their husbands entombed in the Dennis shaft . The winding wheel and the colliery buildings . Beneath a book of rememberance with the names of the 266 dead inscribed on the pages .

The misericords were highly unusual and slightly rude . Out of keeping we saw devils being chased back to hell by kilted figures , foxes carrying buckets of excrement and apes . Carved in the 16th century someone had a sense of humour unbefitting of a religious site . We saw the funny side of it all and felt it probably relieved the long sermons suffered by the congregation and the choir . The church silver was in a case up against the crypt wall . The crypt sadly closed and locked . The chandeliers were stunning . In particular one near the small chapel at one end of the nave . A green man was carved into the woodwork . A pagan symbol in a christian church . Old habits died hard in Gresford. They were hidden in clear site .

Our visit came to an end . We left the peace and quiet after lighting a small candle and placing a donation in the box . We had not travelled far in distance but so far back in time to the Romano British and the medieval world .

And what of Ty Pawb ? Our small market hall/exhibition hall and museum which had reached the last four of small museum of the year . Well yet again it lost out to an English museum . The Hormiman museum and gardens in London . Ah well - next time perhaps !


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