Beechley House (Beech Gardens, Hightown) built in 1720 didn`t have a specific name. It was known as Dursley’s/Darsley’s for many years.
The “New House”
The house and land were owned by a Thomas Jones and was 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. Ravenscroft, gentleman of the parish of Wrexham, was buried on 11th March 1782 at Worthenbury.
William Jones of the “Jones of Wrexham” family bought it around 1749. William started a wine business at the Vaults on the corner of Abbot Street and Back Chamber Street. By 1774, he was County High Sherriff and owned many houses in Abbot Street.
By 1780, the Jones were still the owners of Beechley, but it was occupied by Major Bell. John Bell Esq died in 1781.
During the next few years, the tenants were Mr Hughes, George Warrington and Mr Hodgkins. George Warrington died on 22nd July 1770 at Bryn Y Fynnon, aged 75. He was buried in Gresford Church.
The attorney Thomas Bennion Esq bought the house about 1784. It stayed in the Bennion family until the middle of the 19th century. The family also owned land around the house and Bennion`s Lane was named after them.
Thomas married Jane Edge, a wealthy lady from Overton, and they had five daughters. In 1803, Thomas died aged 43 and buried in Overton.
Jane stayed at Beechley with her three eldest daughters and died in 1840. 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 and funded part of the rebuilding of Overton Church and Bennions Almshouses, also in Overton.
They donated to the construction of St Mark’s Church in Wrexham. Mary Anne had the stained glass window installed there in memory of Albert, Prince Consort.
Caroline died in 1847, and Dorothea and Mary Anne remained at Beechley with a footman, a page, a housemaid and a cook. Dorothea died in 1852 and Mary Ann in 1866; both were wealthy and 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 21st, 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 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.
The solicitor John Lewis was the next occupant. He was born in Wrexham in about 1817 and also lived in The Lodge in Rhosddu. He married Annie M`Carrol, who had been born in Dublin on 21st August 1855 and the event was in the Wrexham Advertiser:
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 three children, a groom and three servants.
A quite upsetting incident occurred in June 1875. Thomas Maddocks, the gardener at Beechley, committed suicide at his home. He had been ill for five 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 he took his own life later that day.
John Lewis and his family were very generous to the good causes in the town, especially the Sunday Schools, with St Mark’s being a favourite. One of his daughters was president of St Mark’s Band of Hope for over 20 years.
Early in 1880, there was a spate of burglaries in Wrexham, one of which was at Beechley, the residence of Mr J. Lewis, clerk to the County Magistrates. The items stolen were 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 with a silver-tipped top. Suspicion fell upon two soldiers who that night deserted from the Wrexham Depot.
On 8th March 1890, another nasty accident was reported when John Lewis was struck in the face by a broken bucket.
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 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 was actually paying rent on Beechley, so he 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 had practised as a solicitor at Wrexham since July 1838, and since the year 1880, in partnership with his son, Mr Bernard Lewis. The debtor also held the appointment of clerk to the County Magistrates for the divisions of Bromfield and Ruabon for many years. More recently, he was a joint clerk with his son, Bernard. John eventually moved to Hope where he died in 1903.
In 1901, Beechley was occupied by Francis Henry Hawkins from Handsworth, Staffordshire. He was also a solicitor and employer with four children and three servants. They didn`t stay long and, sometime after 1907, moved to Hornsey in Middlesex.
Their eldest son, Second Lieutenant Harold George Hawkins, was killed on 24th July 1915 and is buried at Cité Bonjean Military Cemetery, Armentieres. He was with the 11th Battalion Duke of Cambridge’s Own (Middlesex) Regiment.
Military men occupied Beechley for several years, with it being close to Hightown Barracks. A Major Mansell was there in 1916 when records show he presented the Military Medal to a brave soldier who had his leg amputated.
Staffordshire Soldier Decorated at Wrexham. On Tuesday afternoon Major Mansell 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 had his leg amputated. After the ceremony, the patients gave their gallant comrade a hearty cheer.
A Miss Mansell was at Beechley in 1918.
Its next occupant was a Major Codrington Howard Rees Crawshay and he married a girl from Acton Park.
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 Colonel Crawshay had recently returned to Wrexham after long service at the front. He must have been quite ill, as in 1919 as a report stated that the many friends of Major Crawshay, RWF, were 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, including a chain of 285 pearls and some valuable rings, earrings, 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 in 1939. Francis Mackreth was a haberdasher and smallware dealer. He died in 1940, aged 60 and buried in Wrexham Cemetery. His gravestone states “of Beechley”.
It was a base for American GIs around 1943. Little is known about the occupants after that, but it became apartments years later.
Researched by Annette Edwards in June 2021
Thanks to John Davies for his kind provision of the article.
Source: AN Palmer
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