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A Topographical Dictionary of Wales - Samuel Lewis
4th Edition 1849 - Bangor-on-Dee


BANGOR-ISCOED, a parish, in the union of WREXHAM, comprising the townships of Eyton, Pickhill, Ryton, and Sesswick, in the hundred of BROMFIELD, county of DENBIGH, and the township of Bangor, in the hundred of MAELOR, county of FLINT, NORTH WALES; the whole containing 1257 inhabitants, of whom 596 are in the township of Bangor, 5 miles (S. E.) from Wrexham, on the road to Whitchurch. This place, which has received the adjunct of Iscoed to distinguish it from the city of Bangor in Carnarvonshire, was the station Branchorium of Richard of Cirencester, and is generally thought to have been the Bovium, or Bonium, of Antonine. It was the site of the most ancient MONASTERY in Britain, which having also been intended as a school for religious instruction, became a great seminary for learning. From this institution, the foundation of which is ascribed by some to Lucius, King of Britain, under whose auspices Christianity is said to have been firmly established in this country, the place obtained its British name Ban-Gor, which was changed by the Saxons into Banchornabyrig, a name descriptive of its importance as a privileged town. Pelagius, the noted arch-heretic, who is affirmed to have been a native of Britain, was educated at this monastery, of which he became abbot, about the commencement of the fifth century. The Pelagian heresy was principally eradicated by St. Germanus, who is said to have introduced considerable improvement into the institution.

Augustine, having been sent by Gregory the Great to re-establish Christianity in England by converting the Saxons, endeavoured to extend the power of the Church of Rome by usurping an authority over the British prelates. But the latter resisting, a great council of the clergy was convened, at which seven bishops and many learned men from the monastery of Bangor were present: the British deputies continued firm in their refusal to submit to St. Augustine, or aid him in his intended conversion of the Saxons; in consequence of which the mortified missionary is said to have denounced the judgment of God against them, predicting that, as they would not accept peace with their Christian brethren, they would soon have war with their pagan enemies, and that they would find death by the swords of those to whom they had refused to preach the word of life. This threat, if ever uttered, was accomplished a few years afterwards, in the battle of Chester, by the slaughter which actually took place of 1150, out of 1200, monks who had gone forth to pray for the success of their countrymen, the Welsh, against the Northumbrian Saxons, by whom, under Ethelfrid, that ancient city had been attacked. The Saxons, having defeated their opponents, and taken possession of Chester, advanced to Bangor, where they entirely destroyed the monastery, and committed its valuable library to the flames. They then intended to penetrate into Wales, but their passage over the Dee at this place was disputed by Brochwel Yscithrog, Prince of Powys, who successfully resisted all their attacks, until relieved by Cadvan, King of North Wales; Meredydd, King of South Wales; and Bledrus, sovereign of Cornwall. The confederate princes called to their aid the services of Dynawd, or Dunothus, abbot of Bangor, and one of the fifty monks that had escaped the general massacre of his brethren, who delivered an oration to the army, which he concluded by ordering the soldiers to kiss the ground, before the action commenced, in commemoration of the communion of the body of Christ, and to take up water in their hands out of the river Dee, and drink it, in remembrance of his sacred blood. This act of devotion infused a confident courage among the Welsh, already ardent for revenge for the calamities they had recently endured; and they encountered the invaders with such bravery as entirely to defeat them, with the loss of above 10,000 men, compelling Ethelfrid, with the remainder of his army, to retreat into his own country.

From this disastrous infliction the monastery of Bangor never recovered: the surviving monks were dispersed throughout the country, some of them settling in North Wales, and others probably serving as a supply to the ministry of the Church in South Wales, and in Armorica. At one period the entire establishment here is said to have consisted of two thousand four hundred brethren, of whom one hundred officiated by turns for one hour, thus performing divine service both day and night, whilst many of the others laboured for the benefit of the community. The ruins of the vast pile of buildings that composed the monastery, are described by William of Malmesbury, a short time after the Norman conquest, as consisting of numerous half-demolished churches and mutilated remains. At present the only vestiges that can be traced, are parts of the foundations, extending for a considerable distance along the eastern bank of the river Dee, which flows between the sites of two of the ancient gates, of which they still retain the names; the one being called " Porth Kleis," one mile southward of the church, on the road to Overton; and the other " Porth Wgan," one mile and a quarter west-north-westward from it, on the road to Wrexham.

The village is pleasantly situated on the eastern bank of the Dee, which is navigable to this place, and is here crossed by a handsome bridge of five arches, connecting the counties of Denbigh and Flint. According to a manuscript preserved in the Wynnstay library. Bangor was the scene of some events connected with the parliamentary war. In February, 1644, "the bridge was betrayed to Colonel Mitton, who, coming over Dee, took prisoners Sir Gerard Eaton, Sir Robert Eaton, with others :" about the same time, " Bangor began to be fortified for the king ;" and in the following December, " the king's soldiers burnt Bangor-upon-Dee and other great houses that if fortified might annoy the garrisons of Salop and Chester." The parish contains about eight thousand acres, of which about five thousand are composed of a stiff clay, the remainder being meadow land, generally of a sandy loam: the ground is chiefly flat, and about two thousand acres are subject to inundation from the Dee. The scenery in many places is beautiful and richly picturesque, the noble sweeps of the river being frequently overshadowed by thick hanging woods, which fringe its elevated banks.

The LIVING is a rectory, with the perpetual curacy of Overton annexed, rated in the king's books at £39. 6. 8. ; present net income, £1200; patron, the Marquess of Westminster. A rent-charge of £701. 13. has been awarded in lieu of the tithes of Bangor, and there is a glebe of 2½ acres, valued at £3. 15. per annum; with a glebe-house. The church, dedicated to St. Dynawd, abbot of the monastery when Augustine landed in England, and who was canonized after his death, appears to have been built at various periods, though the greater part of it is of modern erection. The communion-table, of white marble, and the floor within the rails, of black and white marble, were the gift of Mr. Lloyd; and the altar-piece and tablets, of mahogany with gilt mouldings, were presented by Mr. Peter Lloyd, in 1775 : the font, which is very ancient, is ornamented with sculptured heads and shields bearing the Cross of Calvary, surmounted by the Welsh plume. The arms of the several rectors of the parish, from the year 1662 to the present time, with the dates of their respective induction, are arranged in the hall of the rectory. The Roman road to the station Banchorium passed through the village, a little to the south of the church; and, in digging graves in the churchyard, Roman pavements are occasionally found.

The endowed school in the township of Bangor, in which about 30 children are taught free, was founded in 1728, by Lady Dorothy Jeffreys, widow of Chief Justice Jeffreys, who gave £500 to be laid out in the purchase of lands for teaching and apprenticing poor children: the income at present is £45. 15. per annum. There is a schoolroom for the boys, and the girls assemble in a cottage. The master and mistress receive a salary of £30 from the endowment, and are allowed to take pay-scholars ; they have also the rent of two cottages belonging to the trust, and a house rent-free from the rector of the parish. The appointment is vested in Sir Philip de Malpas Grey Egerton, Bart., of Oulton Park, the sole trustee. All the townships participate in the benefit of this school, as well as in that of placing out poor boys as apprentices from the residue of the income of the charity; the premium is eight guineas, and about three boys are apprenticed every two years. There is also a school supported by subscription, attended by boys and girls, and connected, like the preceding, with the Established Church; it was founded in 1836, and in 1846 an infants' school was commenced, which is conducted in a schoolroom under the same roof. The subscriptions in support of the boys' and girls' school amount to £55 per annum, and those for the infants' school to £24.

There are several charitable donations and bequests, most of which are participated in by the other townships. Of these the principal are, a tenement in Holt parish, left by E. Price, jun., in 1681, and consisting of 5½ acres and three cottages, yielding a rent of £14 per annum; a sum of money given by Sir Gerard Eyton in 1786, producing 20s. per annum, paid by the Leather-sellers Company, of London; a gift of £25 by Kenric Eyton in 1769, vested in the Whitchurch and Wrexham turnpike trust, paying an interest of 25s. ; another of £40 by Thomas Tunna in 1748, with which, and other funds, a plot of ground was purchased in Holt parish, consisting of three cottages and a large garden, let at £77 per annum; and a tenement called the Graig, comprising a house, garden, orchard, and 3½ acres of land, and £200 in money, by Mr. Peter Lloyd, yielding in the whole £22 per annum. The proceeds of these gifts are periodically distributed in bread and money. The produce of other charities, namely £60 by Thomas Lloyd, £50 each by the Rev. Hugh Morris, and Edward Price, sen., £26 by Sarah Davis for education, and £10 by the Rev. John Lloyd, has been lost; or most of it, as is supposed, applied to provide bells for the church.

 

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