The Story of Llanmynech

 

LlanmynechLLANYMYNECH is a parish and village, on the Denbigh Montgomery border, lying six miles south from Oswestry, and comprising the townships of Llwyntidman and Treprenal in Shropshire, and Carreghofa in Montgomeryshire, It is in the hundred of Oswestry, rural-deanery of Oswestry, Archdeaconry of Montgomery, and diocese of St. Asaph. The area of the parish is 1,345 acres.
In early medieval times, Offa's Dyke was built 430 and 652, along the main street in Llanymynech.

The Mines.
Copper was mined and smelted in the late Bronze Age, and ores were used to make bronze weapons and other implements. On the hill above Llanymynech was an extensive Iron Age hillfort and surrounds a cave entrance to the mine; the Ogof. Probably built to protect the copper mine.
The Bronze Age miners used fire-setting techniques, but with the arrival of the Romans the cavern was more extensively mined. The mine was probably abandoned by the Romans 200 CE.
Under the Normans, the town came under the rule of the Marcher Lord. To defend the hill which was being mined for copper and lead. Carreghofa Castle was built by the Earl of Shrewsbury around 1101 at Tanat Camp, just to the west of Llanymynech Hill and overlooking the Tanat valley. Situated directly on the borderlands, the castle changed hands between English and Welsh numerous times during the 12th and 13th centuries.
In the distant days of the Plantagenets, Eyton, in his Antiquities of Shropshire, says that Mines were worked in the Lime Rocks for silver; he bases his statement on the Pipe Rolls of 1194 and 1195, which contain accounts of receipts and expenditure for some mining experiments carried on by John Le Strange of Ness, and Ralph Le Strange of Alvanley, successively 'Castellans' of Carreghofa Castle. Although these experiments were short lived, the deep shafts and mounds of thrown up earth are still around to confirm that this district was considered rich in mineral wealth, and the name 'Llanymynech' can be translated 'Village of the Miners' though the 'Village of the Monks' is another suggested interpretation.
In 1194, the castle was recaptured by the English hoping to reopen the mines on Llanymynech Hill and extract silver. Richard I had been captured and held for a ransom of £100,000, and the Bishop of Salisbury, Hubert Walter, heard of the discovery of silver at the Carreghofa Mine on Llanymynech Hill. The Bishop decided to develop the mine and reopen the mint at Shrewsbury to refine the silver for coins. Unfortunately, the total amount of silver produced only came to the value of £20 - 11 shillings and 11 pence!
In the 1230s, the castle was destroyed and the stones were eventually removed and used to construct nearby Carreghofa Hall. Very little remains of the castle today. The mine was located north of the present quarry, and just south of the present golf course clubhouse. Today the village is home to one of only three remaining Hoffmann lime kilns in the British Isles, and the only one with a chimney.

More Early History.
At the time of the Norman Conquest, Carreghofa was unsubdued, and did not form part of the Fief of the Barons FitzAlan, who held the Walcheria of Oswestry, including Llanymynech proper. The independence of Carreghofa, however, did not continue long, the district soon fell to the arms of one of the Norman Earls. Eyton gives the following facts, taken by him from Florence of Worcester:- Early in the 12th century, Robert de Belesme, Earl of Shrewsbury began a fortress in a place called Caroclove. This Belesme formed an alliance with the Welsh Princes, Cadogan and Gervase, which was disapproved by King Henry I. (1102), who in order to break off what he considered a dangerous connection, bribed the Welshmen to be false to their compact, and banished Belesme from England, at the same time taking possession of his demesne. Carreghofa Castle was held by the Crown until the reign of Henry III, when, probably, during the Wars on the Welsh Border, it was dismantled and destroyed.

THE FAMILY OF JONES
Early in the 17th century the family of Jones of Carreghofa attained, in the person of Sir Thomas Jones, Knight, to a position of importance, inasmuch as he became Lord Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, under James II. His son-in-law, Charles Pindar, was Recorder of Wenlock.
The family of Jones enriched the Church Plate by two Patens, dated 1703-1704, 'The Guift of Mrs Mary Jones - and a large Cup, dated 1710-1711 The Guift of Thomas Jones Esq'.
In 1790 the Jones property passed by will to Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt, 1st Baronet, who assumed the surname of Jones, his mother Katherine, daughter of the Very Rev Penystone Booth being the heiress, through her mother Katherine Jones, grand-daughter of Sir Thomas, the Judge, to the Carreghofa estate. The present Sir Raymond Tyrwhitt-Wilson, in direct descent from the first Baronet, is still one of the principal landowners in the district.

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Any corrections and additional information gratefully received contact john p birchall