Page images
PDF
EPUB

where prisoners, after pulling up the bridge over the chasm, might be lodged in the utmost security. *

From the top of the circular keep, which is more elevated and perfect than the other parts of the building, there is an extensive prospect of the surrounding country.

History of Hawarden Castle.The time of the foundation of this fortress is not known. It appears however to have been in existence soon after the Norman conquest; for it was then possessed by Roger Fitzvalerine, son of one of the noble adventurers who followed the fortunes of William the Conqueror. It was held by the seneschalship to the earls of Chester, and was afterwards the seat of the barons of Mont Alt, who were stewards of the palatinate of Chester. On the extinction of the ancient earls in 1237, Hawarden Castle and some other fortresses belonging to them were resumed by the crown. But, about thirty years afterwards, when Henry III. and his son Edward were taken prisoners by Simon de Montfort at the battle of Lewes, their liberation was purchased by the resignation to him of the earldom of Chester from Edward, who then held it, and by the absolute cession to the Prince Llewelyn, not only of this place, but of the absolute sovereignty of Wales. Shortly after this time it must have been destroyed; for Llewelyn, in 1267, when he restored to Robert de Mont Alt the lands of Hawarden that he had formerly possessed, strictly enjoined him not to build any castle there for thirty years. A fortress seems, however, to have been raised long before the expiration of that period; for in the night of Palm Sunday, 1281, David, the brother of Llewelyn, ungrateful for the favours which had been so lavishly conferred upon him by Edward I, surprised and took this castle, cruelly massacring all who resisted.

Hawarden seems to have continued in the barons of

* Pennant's Tour, i. 104.

HAWARDEN CASTLE.

253

Mont Alt for nearly fifty years from the death of David; when Robert, the last baron, having no male issue, conveyed it to Isabella, queen of Edward II., and on her disgrace it came once more to the crown. In 1336 Edw. III. granted it, along with the stewardship of Chester, to William de Montacute, Earl of Salisbury; in whose family it continued till the year 1400, when John, his great nephew, was beheaded by the townsmen of Cirencester, after attempting an insurrection in favour of his deposed master, Richard II. The earl, however, prior to this event had made over his estates in fee to four of his friends; but after his attainder they became forfeited to the crown.

Thomas, Duke of Clarence, the son of Henry IV. who was afterwards slain at the battle of Baugy in 1420, had a grant of Hawarden ; and about twenty years after his death it was given to Sir Thomas Stanley, who held it till the year 1450, when it was resumed, and granted to Edward, Prince of Wales.

The surviving feoffee of the Earl of Salisbury now laid claim to his estates, on the plea that the earl was not possessed of them at the time of his forfeiture. An inquisition was taken, his plea found good, and complete restitution was made to him.

In 1454 Hawarden was again conveyed to Sir Thomas, afterwards Lord Stanley; and on the death of his son Thomas, Earl of Derby, it descended to his second wife Margaret, the mother of Henry VII. After her decease it continued in the family till the execution of the gallant James, Earl of Derby, in 1651; and was subsequently purchased of the agents of sequestration, by Serjeant Glynne, in one of whose descendants it still continues.

In the civil wars Hawarden was betrayed by its governor to the parliament, and kept for them till 1643, when part of the English forces, who had been serving against the rebels in Ireland, upon the cessation there, came over to assist the king, and landed at Mostyn, a place about sixteen miles distant. Soon after their arrival they made an attack on this castle, and after a fortnight's siege, it was surrendered to them. It continued in the hands of the Royalists until after the surrender of Chester in 1645, when it was vigorously besieged by the parliament's forces under General Mytton, and in about a month was taken. On the 22d of December, in the same year, the parliament, alarmed at some disturbances which had taken place amongst their soldiers, ordered this and four other castles to be dismantled. These orders extended only to the rendering of it untenable; its further destruction is said to have been subsequently effected by its owner, Sir William Glynne.

The Glynne Arms is the only inn at Hawarden.

A little beyond the ninth mile stone from Chester, at the distance of about a quarter of a mile from the road, is

EULOE CASTLE.

It is situated on the edge of a glen, and surrounded with wood. It formerly consisted of two parts; the larger of which was an oblong tower rounded at one end, and about fourteen yards long, and ten or twelve in width, guarded on the accessible side by a strong wall. The other part is an oblong court, at the extremity of which are the remains of a circular tower. Leland says that Euloe Castle was the property of a gentleman in Flintshire of the name of Howell, who, by ancient custom, a privilege he inherited from his ancestors, used to give the badge of a silver harp to the best harper in North Wales. In his own time it was, he

a ruinous castelet or pile.' It was in the wood adjoining to this place, called Coed Euloe, that King Henry the Second, in an expedition

informs us,

* Leland's Itinerary, v. 53.

COED EULOE-NORTHOP.

255

against Owen Gwynedd, Prince of North Wales, received a severe and most memorable repulse from David and Conan, the two sons of that hero. The army of Owen was encamped and seemed ready for engagement, and some slight skirmishes were commenced. These, however, were but artifices to draw the English into a narrow and dangerous pass between the hills, where a numerous ambuscade was secretly placed under the command of his sons. Henry, too confident in the strength of his men, and not relying sufficiently on the opinion of those who had a more perfect knowledge of the country than himself, fell into the snare, and paid dearly for his rashness; for when he and his vanguard following the Welsh into the valley were engaged in fight, another party, with horrible outcries, arose sudden from under the cover of the woods which hung over the steep, and assaulted them with stones, arrows, and other missile weapons.

The disadvantageous situation of the English army, and the confusion into which they were thrown, totally disabled them from resisting this unexpected attack, and they were routed with dreadful slaughter.

on a

NORTHOP

Is a village of considerable size, containing a handsome and somewhat ancient church; but this is in a ruinous state and is about to be taken down. In the vicinity are several lead and coal mines.

CHAPTER XXVII.

NORTHOP TO HOLYWELL.

(By Flint 9 Miles.)*

Flint, Flint CastleHolywell-St. Wenefred's Well- Legend of St.

Wenefred— Basingwerk Abbey- Basingwerk Castle.

Three miles from Northop is

FLINT, A market town, containing 2216 inhabitants. It seems to have been built upon the plan of a Roman city, but the appearance of the houses is not prepossessing. It has once been surrounded by a ditch and ramparts, but these are now nearly destroyed. Being situated near the sea, it is resorted to by persons from the adjacent country as a bathing-place. The church, or rather chapel, is but a chapel of ease to Northop. The county gaol is situated in the castle-yard, in a fine healthy situation. Over the front door there is a marble slab, containing an elegant inscription, the composition of Mr. Pennant.

The castle stands upon a rock in the marsh, and so near the river, that sometimes at high-water the walls are washed by the tide.It has been a square building, with towers at

* The direct road from Northop to Holywell does not pass through Flint, and is but seven miles in length.

+ The channel of the Dee is at present at some distance, but the river formerly flowed close under the walls. There are still in some parts rings left to which ships were moored.- Pennant.

« PreviousContinue »