Melin y Wern & Nannerch
This pretty little village lies 6 miles north west of Mold in the imposing shadow of the Clwydians and the hillforts that rise above the valley that Nannerch resides within. But there are curiosities at Nannerch that make the village more than a place to park to visit Penycloddiau.
The area abounds with barrow, cairn and tumuli, as you would expect, with the example in Penbedw Park of particular interest, since its connection with the nearby curious stone circle is obvious. Thus, Nannerch sits within an ancient landscape, awaiting further investigation.
And what of the village’s later history? In, ‘The Quarrel of Arthur and Huail, and the Death of Huail ap Caw’, the soldier of Calais, Elis Gruffudd, tells us of the death of Huail, brother of the fulminating monk, Gildas at the hands of King Arthur. In this tale, we are told that Arthur held court at Nannerch, suggesting an importance to the place that perhaps is hidden still in the earth, awaiting discovery. It is believed that Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, otherwise known as, Llywelyn the Great, gifted the Penbedw estate to his daughter, Gwennlian (ferch Llywelyn) de Lacy, by his mistress, Tangwystl Goch. Owain Glyndwr took possession of the Penbedw estate, if but briefly during his famous revolt of 1400-1415. Thus, this little village holds the distinction of being central to the affairs of three of the greatest Welshmen to date.
And yet, the reader will have noticed a curiosity here, since nearly all mention of Nannerch centres on the Penbedw Estate. Nannerch is an estate village, heavily influenced by the owners of Penbedw. The estate was granted to, ‘Piers ap Howel, otherwise known as Peter Mostyn by Henry VIII in 1544 for the sum of £73, and the acquisition of the estate made Mostyn a wealthy man indeed. Previous to that, the estate is thought to have been in the possession of the Earls of Kent. The estate passed into the Williams family before finally being sold to William Barber Buddicom in 1852 for £46000. Buddicom had made his fortune, and continued to do so as a railway engineer, having designed the Crewe Type locomotive and worked extensively in France. He was also a clever businessman, investing in ‘start-up’ railway companies that invariably did well for themselves.
The Buddicom family effectively became part of the DNA of Nannerch. Their influence can still be seen in the rebuild of St Mary’s Church, the building of the village school, the quite wonderful Tai Cochion cottages and the Memorial Hall, built in 1935 by Venetia Buddicom in memory of her father, Harry and her brother, Lieutenant Walter Buddicom (M.C.) who was killed in the First World War. Venetia’s father, Major Harry Buddicom was responsible for designing the rear cab of the Mark V tank and can be seen observing tanks trials at the Metropolitan Carriage and Wagon Company in Staffordshire in late 1918 in early film footage. Indeed, a Mark V tank was transported to Nannerch by train before being driven into the village and parked outside the post office until 1938.
St Mary’s Church is well worth a wander about, even if Thomas Pennant believed it was, ‘noted for little but a monument in memory of Charlotte Theophilia Mostyn’ which, to be fair is something quite extraordinary. It was created by the quite wonderfully named, Grinling Gibbons who was considered one of the finest, if not the finest carver of wood in his day.
Much of Nannerch’s wonder lies in its incredible surroundings, but take time to wander its streets. You will not regret it.