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RHUTHUN LOCAL HISTORY BROADSHEET                                                                       Issue No 52 December 1997



by P.D. Randall

The question of a new organ for St. Peter's church was first raised at a meeting held on 3rd January 1901. The Churchwardens called a well-advertised meeting of the congregation on Tuesday, 21st May 1901. The idea was to erect an organ as a memento of the Jubilee of Chancellor Bulkeley Owen Jones as Warden of Ruthin. Other objectives considered were the first year of a new century; the first year of the reign of Edward VII; and as a memorial to Queen Victoria. Under the chairmanship of Mr. Theodore Rouw, the meeting agreed that a new organ was a necessity to which everyone should contribute to the best of their ability "... not only the subscriptions of the wealthy, but also the poorer members..." The chairman hoped ".... they would have a strong committee, upon which ladies would be present to carry the matter through.... " A committee of some 43 persons was formed, 19 gentlemen and 24 ladies to organise subscriptions etc. Although he was not at the meeting, it was decided to ask Col. Cornwallis West of Ruthin Castle to act as President.

By October 1901, the committee had £342.14s.-6d. in hand and Col. Cornwallis West had suggested that he asked Dr. Bridge of Chester Cathedral to inspect the church, but this was not accepted. In December, the committee inspected specifications for a new organ from Messrs Harrison and Harrison, Norman and Beard, while another firm Willis and Hill declined to quote. A sub-committee of some ten persons was formed to select a suitable organ and Mr. Harrison was requested to meet with them on 16th December. He reported that some parts of the old organ were good "...But most were bad". The pipes were very thin and harsh and it would be unwise to incorporate them in the new instrument. They might get up to £70 for it! Mr. Harrison considered that £500 would build a very efficient organ for St. Peter's but ".... It would contain no luxuries". The committee were "...very pleased with themselves that they were in touch with a very good firm."

At a full committee meeting on 27th December 1901 it was unanimously agreed to appoint Harrison and Harrison of Durham to build an organ to the value of £500 and an executive committee was appointed to work with the builder. By February 1902, the contract price had risen to £550 and circulars for subscriptions had been distributed. In June it was reported that £435 had been collected and that £55 had been accepted from Harrison and Harrison for the old organ. The first payment to the contractors was made on 6th March 1902 and a further 100 circulars sent out. 

By September 1902, the organ was completed after the committee agreeing to the provision of Dummy pipes at a cost not exceeding £10. It appears that the total cost came to about £600 as in October 1902 the Committee agreed an overdraft for £70 with the General Bank, the ladies to run a bazaar to cover the cost. However, the bazaar did not cover the debt as a further appeal for subscriptions was made on 24th March 1903.

During the construction of the organ many parishioners were concerned at the rising costs as some of the letters to the Denbighshire Free Press during 1902 indicate. One correspondent under the name “Bunkum” referred to the £50 for carriage and to clothe in Oak another £50 pounds … the pipes were very expensive accounting for £100 or £200.... "In my estimation the committee should without delay consider where the organ is to come from if they propose to squander all the money on mere accessories. If they intend to proceed as they are doing, the congregation of St. Peter's should insist upon their furnishing an organ for the church at their own expense as a fitting punishment for such unheard-of extravagance."

Another interesting letter by a "Subscriber" in February 1902, also referred to the £50 carriage, leaving just £450 for the organ, which would not produce sufficient power for such a large church. “Why not the services of Mr. Davies, an old Ruthin boy, and an experienced organ builder not taken advantage of?" [see RLHB No: 49].

A special service of dedication was held in conjunction with the Annual Harvest Thanksgiving on Thursday, 25th September 1902, at 3 p.m. A large congregation was favoured by excellent summer weather. The dedication was by the Bishop of St. Asaph, the Rt. Rev’d. A.G. Edwards (later first Archbishop of Wales). ‘The Churchwardens advanced down the right aisle at the bottom of which the Warden awaited them, and received from Mr. Rouw, the Senior Churchwarden, the key of the organ enveloped in one of the almsbags. The Warden then handed the key to the Bishop who placed it upon the altar and then delivered the Dedication Prayers. His Lordship then returned the key to the Warden who handed it to Miss Edwards who, as organist, unlocked the organ, when Mr. W.E Belcher, organist of St. Asaph Cathedral, took his seat thereat and accompanied the choir in the singing of the Te Deum Laudamus"

After the service. Chancellor and Mrs. Bulkeley Owen Jones invited a large number of persons to "an excellent tea” at the Town Hall. A vote of thanks to the Warden was proposed by the Hon. G.T. Kenyon, seconded by Mr. Edward Lloyd of Rhaggat, with the Warden replying.

At 6p.m., Mr. Belcher gave an organ recital before a large assembly in the church, the music including works by Gullnant, Dubois, and Purcell. The day's festivities concluded with a Thanksgiving Service in Welsh. Mr. Belcher was paid £4.-4s.-0d. for playing the organ on this occasion. The brass memorial plate on the pillar by the lectern cost £7 to make and fix. On the 5th December. 1902, the churchwardens resolved that "... the organist should master the new instrument by frequent practicing a donation of £1 be paid ..." At the same meeting, "... the account for the extra cleaning of the church on the occasion of putting up the new organ, viz., 13/6d. should be 5/0d." (65.3p and 25p. in new pence).

It would appear from a letter written on the 9th November 1903, by the Warden, that Mrs. Bulkeley Jones did not like the finished appearance on the western side of the organ "...on that side is very detrimental to our handsome church...the expense of making the improvement (suggested by Harrison) will be about £20 which Mrs Jones will provide ..." The work was done.

Col. Cornwallis West appears to have taken little interest in the organ. Was it because the committee had rejected his advice, or the removal and sale of the old organ, which was given to St. Peter's by the Hon. Frederick West in 1811 at the cost of £300, - the first organ of the church?

References: Denbighshire Record Office - PD19011155; Denbighshire Free Presses for 1902


By a Contributor'.

"THE NORTH WALES CHRONICLE" of c.1869 published an interesting commentary on contemporary developments in Ruthin. To quote: "...This ancient town... is fast losing its antique appearance. It contained a short time ago, a number of houses in the walls of which black beams of timber were conspicuous, which caused the observer to ruminate on the good old days of Queen Elizabeth. In every quarter of the town several edifices that have braved many a tempest have succumbed to the labourer's hammer, and new and sprightly buildings are being erected on the site of the old ones. 

This report was picked-up by the Cambrian Archaeological Association in its 1870 transactions., The Association deplored "the loss and disfigurement" to the town which it classed as vandalism. The replacement buildings were said to be of the "factory style". Arch.Camb. went on to cite certain examples beginning with Exmewe House. It was thought that the house demolished by Barclay's Bank in 1928 to make way for its present premises had been the original, but from this report it would seem that there must have been changes to the house c.1869. Indeed, old photographs do show differences in the building. Nantclwyd House in Castle Street was said to have been 'partly modernised'.

If Nantclwyd House* was the cause of some concern then, there seems to be equal cause for concern today. The structure of the house has been well restored and renovated by the Clwyd Historic Buildings Preservation Trust, but still the house stands forlorn and empty. The local committee of the National Trust is enthusiastically urging their parent body to assume responsibility for this jewel. The National Trust doubtless has its problems, but it is to be hoped that local initiative and enterprise will soon succeed in persuading the powers-that-be to grasp the nettle and find a solution. It surely cannot be beyond the wit of man.

*Nantclwyd y Dre


"Bye-Gones" of 23rd December 1885, records that the custom of singing carols in Wales prevailed to a greater extent than, perhaps, in England. In earlier times the Welsh had adapted carols for most of the ecclesiastical festivals and the four seasons of the year.

After the turn of midnight on Christmas Eve, service was performed in the churches followed by carol singing to the harp. As the Christmas holiday continued, they were sung in like manner in the houses, with some carols being especially adapted to be sung at the doors of the houses by visitors before they enter. Llyfr Carolau, or 'The Book of Carols', contained 66 carols for Christmas and five for the summer. Blodeugerdd Cymru, or 'The Anthology of Wales', had 48 Christmas carols, 9 summer carols, 3 May carols, 1 winter carol, 1 nightingale carol and 1 to cupid!


Pentre Coch Manor, one suspects, is a modern name supplanting the indigenous appellation "Ty Mawr". Having said that, its present name is not entirely inappropriate, deriving from the small settlement in which it is located, and its use gives rise to interesting speculations which may not be entirely inappropriate.

The age of the house is another matter for speculation, but Edward Hubbard, in his Buildings of Wales:Clwyd [p. 208], suggests that its core is probably of the 16th or early 17th century. Houses of any age cannot escape adaptation by successive owners to meet changing needs, and it seems that some of changes made by its Victorian occupiers were eliminated in 1933 and immediately afterwards, when the impressive brick wall which lines its road frontage was added. Further alterations have again been made.

Almost certainly, an earlier house or houses would have occupied this site and reference to the name "Pentre Coch" may provide clues. Roughly translated, Pentre Coch is 'Red Village' and at first sight it is difficult to see any justification for such a label. It seems likely that the name arises from that of an original Welsh family, probably of noble if not royal origin, who were tribal chiefs in the Ruthin area. The extent of their influence and power is not precisely known, but genealogical and other documents refer to member of the Griffith 'Goch' family as 'of Bachymbyd and Pentre Coch', of the tribe of Cowryd ap Cadfan. Thus, 'the village of Goch' could be the result. Bachymbyd and Pentre Coch are by no means contiguous and whether the Goch territory included the area between is not known, but this would have included Ruthin itself.

The 'Goch' influence continued after the Edwardian conquest of 1282 for there is an account of a clash between this and the Thelwall family. The Thelwalls were officials of the Lordship of Ruthin. On one occasion, they were besieged in Ruthin castle by Goch warriors and had to send for help. This duly arrived in the form of John ap Meredith and his men. John's son Robert is reputed to have been slain by an arrow in Coed Marchan, the deer park. The Thelwalls gained from that incident their armorial crest of a deer pierced by an arrow.

However, the Goch family were not always obstreperous. Their Bachymbyd presence. in the parish of Llanynys, is reflected in the fact that Griffith Goch sponsored the building of the first church at Cyffylliog as a Chapel of Ease for the enormous Llanynys parish. This was towards the end of the 12th century.

One of the interesting features of Ty Mawr is its front door. This bears the date 1568 inscribed by massive nail heads together with the initials "R.C." It also carries four crosses representing the badge of the order of the Holy Sepulchre, with the heart above, given to Clough after visiting Jerusalem. This may illustrate the danger of paying too much significance to an artefact in a building for it seems likely that this door originally belonged at Bach-y-Graig, near Tremeirchion. Thomas Pennant wrote:- "Near Tremeirchion, Denbigh, lies buried in the wood the singular house of Bache-graig. Sir Richard Clough, an eminent merchant in the reign of Elizabeth, seems to have built this house; the initials of his name R.C. are in iron on the front door, with date 1567, and on the gateway that of 1569. In the windows of the parlour are several pieces of painted glass of the arms of the Knight of the Sepulchre as his own with a heart at the bottom, including the initials R.C., his wife's initials beneath them, with 1567 [sic] above."

Llewelyn Adams, resident at Ty Mawr from c.1865, was born at Plas Efenechtvd on June 21st1821 and he and his two brothers were educated at Ruthin Grammar School. His father, George Adams, came to Ruthin c.1819 as estate agent for Miss Harriet Myddelton and was appointed Alderman and the first Mayor of Ruthin following the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835. George had three sons, one of whom became Clerk of the Rolls for the Isle of Man and another became a Customs Officer also serving in the Isle of Man.

Llewelyn was articled to Mr. Joseph Peers, solicitor of Ruthin, who was also educated at the Grammar School. Peers held office of Clerk of Peace for Denbighshire for 51 years, for which he was commemorated by the clock tower on St. Peter's Square [RLHB Nos: 16, 30]. In 1845, Mr. Adams commenced practice on his own account, and at the end of that year he married Miss Caroline Jones, daughter of a Mr. Price Jones of Berth [or Borth?]. It seems quite possible that Caroline had family connections with the Jones family then resident at Ty Mawr. In 1854, Llewelyn was appointed Clerk to the Ruthin Justices. He was appointed Clerk of the Peace in 1884, on the death of Mr. Peers. In 1888, he was appointed as the first Clerk to the Denbighshire County Council and remained at that post until his death.

As Churchwarden of St. Peter's, Ruthin, he had greatly assisted the Rev. Chancellor Bulkeley-Jones, Warden of Ruthin, in carrying out the restoration of St. Peter's Church. Again in 1860, at the commencement of the Volunteer movement, he applied his energy to this and gave valuable aid in raising a rifle corps, in which he served for many years, retiring with the rank of Major. A less happy involvement was with the ill-fated Ruthin-Cerrigydrudion Railway, in which it has been said he lost a considerable sum of money.

Adams and his wife had three sons and two daughters. Mrs. Adams died in 1884 at Edinburgh where she was buried. Llewelyn died 29th December 1898, aged 77 years, and was buried in Llanfair Churchyard. In his eulogy, the School Magazine described Llewelyn as one of the school's greatest benefactors since the death of the late Rev. John Wynne, Tyddynllan, Corwen, "one of our greatest benefactors since Dean Goodman".

Miss Caroline Adams [b: 13Niii/1851] married General Thomas Alphonso Cary on 9th July 1887 at Churchstanton, Devon. General Cary was of a military family, his father being described on the marriage certificate as a 'Major'. Cary's military career seems to have begun with his appointment as Ensign with the 1st West India Regiment on 13th May 1859. On 11th April 1862, he was promoted Lieutenant and was serving on the Gold Coast, known then as 'Gold [Cape] Coast Castle’. At the time of his marriage, Cary was at Colchester and had become a Lieutenant Colonel with the Somerset Light Infantry. Cary died in December 1923 and was buried at Llanfair D.C.

Cary's talented wife left some delightful water colours of Ty Mawr and of the adjoining area. As a widow, Mrs. Cary remained in residence at Tv Mawr until her death. Particulars of sale were published on 30th June 1926, in respect of the household furniture and effects. Recent history has involved several owners with a major renovation and improvement being carried out in the 1930's.


Acknowledgements: Ruthin School Magazine: February 1899; Ruthin Record Office, Sale Particulars DD/DM/86/2, DD/TD/164: Bye-Gones", 4th January 1899, articles which appeared in the Denbighshire Free Press in 1914 by E. Powell; Mr. Peter Howell Williams.

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