Beechley House, Wrexham

Beechley was built about 1720, and at that time it didn`t have a specific name but was it called Dursley`s / Darsley`s for many years   after a man who lived in the area for a short time before 1717.

 The house and land was in the possession of a Thomas Jones and is referred to in the 1726 rate books as the “New House”. By 1747 it was occupied by George Ravenscroft Esq. who later moved to

Mount Street and finally to Llwyn Isaf (the Vicarage) where he died. George Ravenscroft, gentleman of the parish of Wrexham was buried 11 March 1782 at Worthenbury.

By 1749 William Jones of the “Jones of Wrexham” family   came to the estate and eventually bought  it, about  William started a Wine business at the Vaults which was on the corner of  Abbot Street and Back Chamber Street ,  by 1774 he became the High Sherriff of the County. William also owned many houses in Abbot Street.

By 1780 Beechley was still owned by the Jones but was occupied by Major Bell. John Bell Esq died in 1781 and was buried in Wrexham, he made a will but no family are mentioned.

During the next few years among the tenants were Mr Hughes, George Warrington and Mr Hodgkins.

George Warrington died 22 July 1770 at Bryn Y Fynnon aged 75 and was buried in Gresford Church.

About 1784 it was bought by Thomas Bennion Esq, who was an attorney, and it stayed in the Bennion family until the middle of the 19th century. The family owned much more land around the house, Bennion`s Lane was named after this family. Thomas married Jane Edge who was   a wealthy lady from Overton and they had 5 daughters.  In 1803 Thomas died aged 43 and was buried in   Overton, Jane stayed at Beechley with her 3 eldest daughters and died in 1840 when she was buried in Overton with her husband. Dorothea, Mary Anne and Caroline never married and remained at Beechley until their deaths. They were very generous ladies and funded the rebuilding of part of Overton Church and   Bennions Almshouses, also in Overton. They donated to the building of St Marks Church in Wrexham and the stained glass window there to the memory of Albert; Prince Consort was set up by Mary Anne Bennion.

Caroline died in 1847, and Dorothea and Mary Anne remained at Beechley with a footman, a page, a housemaid and a cook, they are described as “landed proprietors”. Dorothea died in 1852 and Mary Ann in 1866, both were very wealthy ladies and were buried in Overton.

1st September 1866

DECEASE AND FUNERAL OBSEQUIES OF MISS BENNION. An old and highly esteemed inhabitant has just been removed from our midst. On Friday, the 21th ult., a life spent in deeds of unostentation, charity, and benevolence, Miss Bennion, daughter of the late Thomas Bennion, Esq., quietly departed this life at her residence in Wrexham Fechan, the home of her childhood, and her abode throughout the whole of her life. The deceased lady possessed a very generous disposition, ever ready to respond to the numerous claims made upon her, no really needy suppliant being ever turned away unrelieved from her doors. To the various charities of the town, she was a constant and most liberal benefactress, never seeming so happy as when, Dorcas like, she was helping on some good work, or administering to the wants of the distressed around her.

John Lewis a solicitor was the next occupant, he was born in Wrexham about 1817. He was living in The Lodge in Rhosddu   and on 21 August 1855 he married Annie M`Carrol who had been born in Dublin. The event was announced in the Wrexham Advertiser.

MARRIAGE. On the 21st inst., at the Parish Church of St. Nicholas, Brighton, by the Rev. G. P. Harris, M.A., brother-in-law of the bride, John Lewis, Esq., of the Lodge, near Wrexham, Solicitor, to Annie, third daughter of Alexander M’Carrol, Esq., of Brighton. The couple remained at the Lodge but by 1871 they were in 40 Wrexham Fechan, which was Beechley House. By now they had 3 children, a groom and 3 servants.

In June 1875 there was quite an upsetting incident, Thomas Maddocks who was the gardener at Beechley committed suicide at his home, he had been off work ill for 5 weeks and had been getting financial help from an Odd Fellows club. Mr Lewis asked him to return to Beechley to which Thomas agreed but later that day took his own life.

John Lewis and his family were very generous to the good causes in the town, especially the Sunday Schools, St Marks was a favourite amongst many others. For over 20 years one of his daughters was president of St Marks Band of Hope. 

Early in 1880 there was a spate of burglaries in Wrexham, one of which was reported to have been at “Beechley“ the  residence of Mr J. Lewis, clerk to the County Magistrates, was also entered, the booty there being four shillings in copper, a silver watch, a silver fruit knife, a silver handle pen-knife with a steel blade and a presentation cocoa nut cup the top tipped with silver. Suspicion fell upon two soldiers who that night deserted from the Wrexham Depot.

On 8th March 1890 nasty accident was reported.

SINGULAR ACCIDENT.-We are very sorry to have to record that Mr John Lewis, Beechley, has met with an accident which will necessitate his remaining at home for some time. About half past four Sunday afternoon, Mr Lewis in passing through the back premises noticed the handle of a pump, long disused, sticking out at right angles to the pump in such a way as to interfere with the thoroughfare. He thereupon pressed it down, but owing to the bucket being broken, as soon as he removed his hand, sprung upwards, striking him across the face, and cutting through the flesh. Dr. Davies was at once called in, and we are glad to learn that Mr Lewis is progressing favourably. Mr Lewis wishes through this column to thank those persons who have been kind enough to make inquiries concerning his mishap.

By 1895 John`s business had run into financial difficulties and he appeared in the Wrexham Bankruptcy Court. The report shows that he paid rent on Beechley so wasn`t the owner.

THE AFFAIRS OF JOHN LEWIS, SOLICITOR. John Lewis, solicitor, Wrexham, was again publicly examined. The debtor alleges as the cause of his failure “pressure by creditors.” The official receiver, in his observations on the statement of affairs, states the debtor is 78 years of age, and has practised as a solicitor at Wrexham since July 1838, and since the year 1880 in partnership with his son, Mr Bernard Lewis. The debtor has also held the appointment of clerk to the County Magistrates for the divisions of Bromfield and Ruabon for very many years, and recently as joint clerk with his son, Mr Bernard Lewis.  John eventually moved to Hope where he died in 1903.

By 1901 Beechley was occupied by Francis Henry Hawkins from Handworth, Staffordshire, he was also a solicitor and employer with 4 children and 3 servants. They didn`t stay long and sometime after 1907 moved to Hornsey in Middlesex on 24 July 1915 their eldest son Second Lieutenant Harold George Hawkins was killed and is buried at Cité Bonjean Military Cemetery, Armentieres. He was with the 11th Battalion Duke of Cambridge’s Own (Middlesex) Regiment.

 For quite a few years Beechley was occupied by Military men, it was quite close to the Hightown Barracks. A Major Mansell was there in 1916 when he presented a Military Medal to a brave soldier.

Staffordshire Soldier Decorated at Wrexham. On Tuesday afternoon Major Maunsell of Beechley, Wrexham, visited Roseneath Hospital and decorated L.-Corpl. Hemsley of the North Staffordshire Regiment, with the Military Medal, which has been awarded to him for conspicuous bravery on the battlefield. L.-Corpl. Hemsley, who comes from Burton- on-Trent, has been wounded three times, and his leg has been amputated. After the ceremony, the patients gave their gallant comrade a hearty cheer.

 A Miss Mansell was at Beechley in 1918.

Major Codrington Howard Rees Crawshay was there next, he had married a Wrexham girl.

In 1910 Mr. Codrington H. R. Crawshay and Miss Mabel Nelson. There was a pretty wedding at St. James (Roman Catholic) Church, Spanish Place, London. W., yesterday, when Miss Mabel Nelson, third daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Nelson, of Acton Park, Wrexham, and 17, Stratton Street, Piccadilly, was married to Mr. Codrington H. R. Crawshaw, Royal Welch Fusiliers, eldest son of Mr. Codrington Fraser Crawshay, of Llanvair Grange, near Abergavenny.

In 1918 it was announced that Col, Crawshay, who has recently returned to Wrexham after long service at the front, has taken Beechley, Wrexham. He must have been quite ill for a while and in

1919 a report states that the many friends of Major Crawshay, R.W.F., are glad to see him home again at Beechley, Wrexham, after his recent serious illness.

The same year the couple visited Dublin where they were victims of theft.

DARING JEWELLERY THEFT. I MRS. C. H. R. CRAWSHAY’S SERIOUS LOSS AT DUBLIN.  A collection of jewellery, valued at between £ 1,500 and £ 2,000, and including a chain of 285 pearls and some valuable rings, ear-rings, and brooches and a regimental badge, the property of Mrs. Crawshay, wife of Major C. H. R. Crawshay, D.S.O., Royal Welsh Fusiliers, Beechley House, Wrexham, was stolen in a daring fashion from her room at the Gresham Hotel, Dublin, on Tuesday morning. Major Crawshay, (who is a son of the late Mr.Codrington Crawshay), and Mrs. Crawshay had gone to Dublin for the horse show.

It eventually came into the possession of the Mackreth family who were there in 1939, Francis Mackreth was a haberdasher and smallware dealer, and in 1940 Francis died aged 60, he was buried in Wrexham Cemetery, his gravestone states “of Beechley”

About 1943 when it was used as a base a base for American GI`s. Little is known after this but in later years it was converted into apartments.

Researched by Annette Edwards. June 2021

Sources. A N Palmers History of Wrexham. Wrexham History

Also see American GI’s at Hightown, Wrexham

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