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Tweeting isn’t only for the birds…

You might have read last week’s post about Cefn Park near Wrexham (Latitude 53.045083; Longitude -2.9931521) https://medievalparksgardensanddesignedlandscapes.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/patterns-in-the-palimpsest/ and how I identified that it dates back to at least the turn of the thirteenth century.

However, I made a mistake in attributing its ownership, and I’ll explain how and why this week.

After completing my blog post, I sat back and thought I might carry on developing a theme within my the introductory chapter of my PhD. So, I went to the kitchen to make a cup of tea. In the hallway between the Living Room and the Kitchen I have hanging up two old maps.

One is an original John Speed map of Denbighshire and Flintshire, left to me by my Paternal Grandfather, and the other is a hand-tinted Robert Morden map of Denbighshire, which came from the estate of my Maternal Grandfather. I look at them often, sometimes from inspiration and sometimes for motivation.

So, whilst the kettle boiled, I stood looking at the maps…and ever so slowly one of the many pennies which have dropped and I’m sure will continue to drop during this research, dropped.

How could the park have been disparked and then re-parked on the same boundaries? It was intact on the early 17th century maps, and so few of the parks I’ve been studying are actually recorded on the maps? With tea made, I went back through the sources.

As I wrote last week, the Extant of Bromfield and Yale was taken in 1315 for the new English Lord describing who owed what service to the him after he had replaced the Welsh Prince following the Edwardian Conquest of 1282-1283. One-fifth of Abenbury, within which Cefn Park is situated, is recorded as being held by the Queen (the wife of King Edward II). So, I tweeted Kathryn Warner, all round Edward II expert to ask her advice.

One of the other parks in my study area, that at Eyton, which I wrote about in https://medievalparksgardensanddesignedlandscapes.wordpress.com/2013/05/19/making-the-familiar-unfamiliar/ was given, in part, to Eleanor of Castile by her husband, King Edward I. Could the one-fifth of Abenbury mentioned actually be Cefn Park, and have been given to the Queen by her husband. It would explain why the new English Lord John de Warenne had to create two new parks at Holt and Glyn if he didn’t have access to Cefn Park.

Whilst I waited for Kathryn’s reply, I set to measuring. Cefn Park measures roughly 200 acres, and the area of Abenbury is 1,000 acres, so this calculation appears to correlate with the available evidence.

Kathryn got back to me, and said although she hadn’t come across this park specifically, the grants of land to Eleanor, wife of King Edward II were scattered through several different sources and because of the mangling of Welsh words, it might take someone who spoke Welsh to spot it when it was found.

This then appears to be how the park survived the fourteenth century, as a Royal possession, before being granted to a favoured family in the following century. That this could happen elsewhere can be found in a document of 1318 for the park at Brynkir, one of the parks I found last year and which has recently been the news here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-north-west-wales-23882385

The manor of ‘Dolpenmayn’ (in which the Park of Brynkir is situated) was one of those given by King Edward II to his son and daughter ‘for their sustenance’. The relevant blog post by Kathryn Warner is here: http://edwardthesecond.blogspot.co.uk/2008/11/edward-iis-daughters-eleanor-and-joan.html

I’m pleased that I was able to work out how these Parks all relate to each other, and also how historians and archaeologists can work together to answer questions about the medieval world.

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