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St Asaph, Flintshire

Historical Description

Asaph, St, a city in Flintshire, a parish in Flintshire and Denbighshire, and a diocese in the counties of Flint, Denbigh, Merioneth, Montgomery, Carnarvon, Salop, and Cheshire. The city stands in the parish, on an eminence between the rivers Elwy and Clwyd, 5 miles N by W of Denbigh, and 5½ SSE of Rhyl. It was formerly called Llanelwy, from its position on the Elwy; it takes the name of St Asaph from the second bishop of its see; and the eminence on which it stands is called Bryn-Paulin, from having been the site of the camp of the Roman general Paulinus on his way to Mona. It has a station on the Vale of Clwyd branch of the L. &N.W.R.,and a post office under Rhyl; and it is the head of a poor-law union and county court district, and a place of petty sessions; but it ranks as a city solely on account of its being the seat of a bishopric, and is practically a village, consisting of little more than a single street A five-arched bridge spans the Elwy, and another good bridge spans the Clwyd. The episcopal palace stands a little W of the cathedral, overlooking the Elwy, and is a large edifice, partly rebuilt by Bishop Carey. The deanery stands about ½ of a mile distant. The parish church stands at the foot of the eminence, and is a small edifice of the time of Henry VIII., without a tower; it was restored in 1872. The churchyard contains several ancient tombs. A cemetery was opened in 1849. The cathedral stands on the summit of the eminence, and is a cruciform structure, with central, low, square, embattled tower. The first church, built in the 6th century, was wooden, and was several times destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt by Bishop Anian about 1290, part of the nave and aisles of the existing structure dating from this period. In 1402 it was nearly destroyed by Owen Glyndwr, but was restored in 1482 by Bishop Redman. Additions and ill-planned restorations continued to be made till the successful restoration by Sir Gilbert Scott. It has a very plain and simple exterior, and measures 182 feet in extreme length; the nave with its aisles is 68 feet in width, and the tower 100 feet high. The chancel was restored in the Early English style by Sir Gilbert Scott, but the east window is Decorated, and contains good stained glass; the choir-stalls are Perpendicular; a reredos and a bishop's throne were added by Scott. It contains monuments of a bishop of the 14th century, Bishop Luxmoore, Dean Shipley, and Mrs Hemans. Outside the west door are the tombs of Bishops Barrow and Short, and the national memorial to Bishop Morgan and the other translators of the Bible into Welsh. A fine view of the Vale of Clwyd and of a long reach of sea-coast is obtained from the summit of the tower. There are chapels for Baptists, Congregationalists, Calvinistic Methodists, and Wesleyans, almshouses, a workhouse, a court-house, and a library and reading-room. The borough unites with Flint and six other towns in sending a member to Parliament. The town gives the title of Viscount to Earl Ashburn-ham. The environs include Bronwylfa and Rhyllon, which were abodes of Mrs Hemans, and contain other objects of interest.

The parish contains the townships of Bodeigan, Bodelwyd-dan, Brynpolyn, Cilowen, Cyrchynen, Faenol, Gwernglefryd, Gwerneigron, Pengwern, Rhyllon, and Talar, in Flintshire, and the townships of Meriadog and Wigfair or Wickwer, in Denbighshire. Acreage, 11,346; population, 3091. The living is a vicarage of four parts, two of which are constituted into the ecclesiastical parishes of Bodelwyddan and Cefn. Patron, the Bishop.

The diocese comprehends all Denbighshire, all Flintshire, except the ecclesiastical parish of Whitewell, parts of Dodleston and Lache-cum-Saltney, and the parish of Penley; all Montgomeryshire, except the deaneries of Arustley and Cypeiliog, part of the ecclesiastical parish of Corris, the ecclesiastical parishes of Criggion, Forden, Montgomery, and Trelystan with Leighton, and parts of Alberbury, Church-stoke, Hyssington with Snead, Lydham, Mainstone, Middleton in Chirbury and Great Wollaston; and parts of Carnarvonshire, Cheshire, Merionethshire, and Salop. Population, 270,180. The see was founded about 560, by Kentigern or St Mungo, the founder of the see of Glasgow, who was driven by persecution from the north, and found refuge here under the protection of Cadwallon; and he was succeeded by Asa or Asaf, a bishop of good family and of great piety, who died and was buried here in 596. The most notable of the bishops after Asaph were Geoffrey of Monmouth, the Welsh Herodotus; Anian, the black friar of Schonau; John Trevor, the Crusader, who pronounced the deposition of Richard II.; Edmund de Birkenhead, and Goldwell, who sat in the council of Trent; Pecock, the Wickliffite; Davis, Morgan, and Parry, translators of the Bible; Owen, who introduced sermons in Welsh; Griffith, the author of the "Form of Adult Baptism;" Isaac Barrow, who educated his nephew of his own name, the distinguished mathematician; Beve-ridge, the author of " Thesaurus Theologicus " and " Private Thoughts;" Tanner, the historian of Monasteries; Samuel Horsley, the eminent Oriental scholar and biblical critic; and Short, historian of the Church of England. The cathedral establishment includes the bishop, the dean, four canons, nine cursal canons, three archdeacons, four vicars choral, and four bishop's chaplains. The income of the bishop is £4200; of the dean, £700; of each of the canons, three of whom are the archdeacons, £350, The diocese is in the province of Canterbury, and is divided into the archdeaconries of St Asaph, Montgomery, and Wrexham.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Flintshire is available to browse.

Newspapers and Periodicals

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