Elwy Bank, St Asaph
Elwy Bank, St Asaph
The most remarkable feature of this building is the collection of murals in the drawing room – hidden from view by wallpaper and forgotten for generations. Today it’s a private house. Please don’t disturb the residents! It opens to the public on certain days, advertised locally.
Elwy Bank dates from c.1790 and was once a high-street bank. After years of neglect, its condition by the 1980s was so poor that there were proposals to demolish the building. Scaffolding was erected for safety reasons. Builder Tom Smith, from Overton-on-Dee, bought the building in 2002 and began a long project to restore and conserve the structure and murals.
It’s thought that the murals were painted by Hugh Hughes c.1825. They are nine portraits of people who were popular at the time, although not necessarily still alive. One portrait (see photo, right) was thought to depict the composer Handel but possibly shows Henry Hayden, St Asaph Cathedral’s organist for 25 years. He was probably patron of the paintings and could have lived here with his wife Sarah. He wrote the thanksgiving anthem for Trafalgar Day, which might explain why another of the figures depicted is Lord Nelson (1758-1805). He was admiral of the Royal Navy and feted during his lifetime and after his death at the Battle of Trafalgar, where Britain defeated the navy of French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.
Also depicted are the Duke and Duchess of Kent, whose daughter Victoria would become Britain’s monarch after the murals were painted, also hymn writer and clergyman Reginald Heber (1783-1826), best known today for the hymn Holy, holy, holy. Standing beside him in the picture is his father-in-law, Dr William Shipley. He was Dean of St Asaph and is commemorated in the cathedral by a marble sculpture of himself which he commssioned.
Postcode: LL17 0RD
|To continue the Words & Music Tour, walk down the hill and cross High Street on the pedestrian crossing. Turn left. The HM Stanley sculpture is the metal tower near the street corner|