Holt, Wales

Holt is a town in the county borough of Wrexham, Wales.

Located on the western bank of the River Dee, it has a ruined stone castle, built in pentagon form with a tower at each corner, by John de Warenne, who was granted lands by Edward I of England following the defeat of the Welsh in 1282. The castle was once a possession of Henry Fitzroy, 1st Duke of Richmond, but was in ruins by the 17th century; all that remains today are the remnants of the walls of the inner keep with a doorway and a staircase. The remainder was floated on barges down the River Dee after the sieges of the English Civil War to construct Eaton Hall.

The Church of St Chad has parts dating to the 15th century and 17th century. There is also a medieval market cross in the town centre. Downstream was a Roman brickworks (possibly called Bovium) which supplied clay tiles and pottery to the Roman fort of Deva Victrix (modern Chester). Six kilns, a bath house, sheds and barracks were found there in the early 20th century, as well as three earlier Bronze Age burial urns. Pieces of pottery sherds are still regularly thrown up after ploughing.

A Grade I listed medieval sandstone bridge links Holt with its English neighbour Farndon on the opposite bank of the Dee. Records of the county court of Chester, in 1368, show that:

the jury presented that John, earl of Warenne, late Lord of Bromfield, had constructed a bridge across the River Dee (during 1338)... and upon that bridge is a fortified gateway' The jury then claimed that illegal toll was being extorted from workmen daily crossing the bridge, and that the town of Holt was giving shelter to felons who ambushed Cheshire folk.

A survey of 1627 described the bridge:

contayninge 10 arches which River divideth Two Sheires, namely Cheshire and Denbye... Upon the fifth Arch from Holt standeth a Tower or Gatehouse of Fortification... (the text then describes the Lady's Chapel in the tower)... Upon the other end of the fortificacion next unto the manor of Farndon next unto the Manor of Farndon is layd out in Masons Works a Lyon to the full passant. And like Lyon is upon the gates of Holt Castell. The county of Chester doth repair the bridge to the Lyon.

Sixteen years later, William Brereton, attacking the bridge for the Parliamentarians stated:

''for which end they had also made a towre and drawbridge and strong gates upon the bridge soe as they and wee coceived it difficult if not altogether ympossible to make way for our passage'. Despite this he, Thomas Myddelton and their forces took the bridge on 9th November 1643 when they cast 'some grenados amongst the Welshmen'.

Thomas Pennant recorded ten arches in 1754 (and had been told a date stone of 1354 was there until recently, which contradicts the more likely date of 1338) but Hubbard in Buildings of Wales only saw eight. The third arch, viewed from the Holt river bank, shows the strengthened arch where the drawbridge once stood.

Notable people from Holt include Welsh football goalkeeper Leigh Richmond Roose.

Further reading

  • Edward Hubbard, The Buildings of Wales: Clwyd (1986) ISBN 0-14-071052-3
  • Gordon Emery, Curious Clwyd 2 (1996) ISBN 1872265995

External links

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