Initially, when my co-pilot and I had planned to visit Wrexham, we had three different stops in mind. However, as always, we left slightly too late to accomplish all of them, and in the end only got around to just one of the sites.
Erddig Hall (or otherwise known as Erddig House) was where we landed, and regardless of the time we left, it is certainly an all-day venture, especially if a visitor intends to do it justice.
While it was built through the years of 1684-1687, it was sold initially to John Meller, who added on to the house, making it grander, in 1714. When he died, it went on to his nephew, Simon Yorke, and stayed in the Yorke name for the following 240 years, until 1973, when the National Trust took it over.
I have never visited a Stately Home before (though one of the volunteers assured me it wasn’t a such, it wasn’t grand enough), so I really didn’t know what to expect. The National Trust had certainly made it an educational experience, which I suppose is just what one should expect from such a venture. As you enter, you come into the shops where they ground their own wheat/corn/whatever, word wood with their ancient manually operated table saw, shoed horses and so on. Horses are still kept there, or at least three of them. It is sad to say that they all looked fairly depressed and fed up.
We moved on to the bustle of the kitchen. The scent of lemons was strong, which was due to the demonstration being given to the girls of the class, who were all dressed in small period costumes, making traditional lemonade. Along the walls were educational bits on turtle soup as well as information about the pests that could be expected.
The house was four floors of beautifully furnished history. One of the rooms, a volunteer told us, was taken to London to be examined, and they “allowed it” to be returned to Erddig Hall under the condition that it is boxed in. This meant that there was a tiny space for visitors to enter the room in their own glass box, while the rest of the room was separated from the humidity that could cause damage to it. This was a fascinating room, as it was quite beautiful. I made comment to my co-pilot as we were leaving the room that the beds all looked quite short. The volunteer informed us that it was quite common for people to sleep upright because it was believed that it was better for health. What’s more, during some time periods, it was also not unusual for hosts to receive guests while sitting in bed.
The gardens were the real gem though. Another volunteer had told us that much work was being done on the gardens, tuning things to a red theme for the Ruby Anniversary. It was 40 years ago this month that the National Trust opened it to the public, and thus there was an influx of visitors.
I have always wanted to go in a garden such as this one. With images of Mario Kart and the Queen of Hearts’ gardens going through my mind, I was fairly excited to see the manicured bushes, the unique flowers, and the lengthy, rectangular ponds. Unfortunately, the gardens weren’t as manicured as I had hoped. But then again, as the volunteer had said, they were being worked on for the anniversary.
On the other side of the house was acres and acres of open country-side. While inside, I overheard one of the volunteers saying to a visitor that one the one side the house was to say “Behold my country side,” and then move to the other side of the room and say, “Now behold my gardens.” It was fascinating to think that someone lived there, that this was someone’s every day normality, and that they could go for wanders through the wilds of their countryside or peruse tamely through kept paths of their back yard.
I would like to note that I became a member of the National Trust during this visit as well. In part because it meant that I would get in free in that moment instead of paying the £13, but also because it was only £9 a month to be a member, and it grants me access to historical sites and parks all over the country. I do believe that history should be preserved, and I’m really excited that I can be a part of that. It is through knowing how we got to where we are as a society and a culture that we can grow as a whole. It is how we can develop empathy, through the stories of the past that are known and recounted, and how we can prevent atrocities in the future. Also, it’s just damn interesting. Supporting the preservation of history is important. If you would like to become a National Trust member yourself, feel free to follow the link here.
We had hoped to go on to St. Giles church and climb to the tower, as well as visit the Wrexham Lager Brewery, though I suppose those will be ventures for another day. We were in that house and gardens for nearly three hours, and we still skimmed over parts to just get out of the way of other people, or to avoid crowds. Definitely worth the visit.