The village of Trelawynd is a curious place, largely down to its relationship with the 18th century industrialist, lawyer and entrepreneur John Wynne of nearby Y Gop. It was Wynne who took it upon himself to singlehandedly change the fortunes of Trelawynyd, fashioning a would-be thriving industrial town from a rural agrarian clay. He managed to secure a change of name in 1711, and Trelawynd became Newmarket. It wasn’t to last, however, but the circumstances of Wynne’s relationship with Trelawynd has rather consumed all subsequent attention, rather to the detriment of other features of interest.
Indeed, the name of the village is more interesting that John Wynne’s 18th century change would suggest, since its current name, Trelawnyd, while in use before the change to Newmarket can only be certainly traced to 1649, in other matters a rather seismic date in British history. Why this is so is both interesting and unknown. In common with other Flintshire settlements, the hamlet featured in the Domesday Book of 1086, in which it is named, ‘Rivelenoit’. In the 14th century it was known as, ‘Riwlyfnoyt’, which is likely Saxon in origin, translating as the, ‘slope of Leofnoth’. It is likely that this is the same Leofnoth that owned much land in the area at the time of the Domesday Book. It is possible that the change to Trelawynd was a conscious choice of its inhabitants to distance itself from its Saxon, English origins, but more likely to reflect an event or events, the details of which have escaped us.
While John Wynne’s efforts to change Trelawynd’s status are discussed elsewhere, it is worth noting that there was a hamlet here, whatever its name, with a considerable past before his attempted re-invention. It is possible that Offa’s Dyke passed through the village, although current thinking and archaeology has cast some doubt on that. Pushing further back, it is hard to miss the Gop and its cave and of course the ubiquitous lumps and bumps of the Bronze Age.
St Michael’s Church has a hint of it medieval past with its trusses, stoup and a 14th century sepulchral slab. Much has been lost with the rebuild of 1724 and subsequent restorations. Its glory, however resides in the churchyard. St Michael’s has quite the most glorious and complete 14th century cross, which holds its own with the examples at Derwen and Tremeirchion. A wonderful example of a hooded tomb can also be found, a rarity in North Wales.
While John Wynne’s venture inevitably came to nought, the village name reverting to Trelawynd in 1954, it remains a place of huge interest and well worth visiting.