Former Elephant & Castle Inn, Wrexham

Former Elephant & Castle Inn, Wrexham

This building became the Magic Dragon Brewery Tap in 2019, providing a relaxing environment for socialising and enjoying beers from the Plassey Brewery. In Victorian times it was the troublesome Elephant & Castle Inn. An exasperated police superintendent told magistrates in 1879: “I consider the Elephant & Castle to be the greatest curse of Wrexham.”

On Friday 13 June 1863, landlady Mrs Breeze found guest George Smith dead and “covered with blood from head to foot” in an upstairs room. She’d known him when he was in the service of Captain Palmer of Cefn Park, Wrexham. George had later joined the household of Captain Thomas Naylor Leyland, of Nantclwyd Hall, Denbighshire. In June 1863 Captain Leyland was steward at the Denbighshire Yeomanry cavalry races in Wrexham, and George was his valet.

George’s inquest concluded “suicide while in a fit of insanity”. Captain Leyland paid George’s funeral expenses. George left a widow and five children in London, the eldest of whom was Annie Eliza, 22. Twenty-five years later Annie became well known as Annie Chapman, the second of Jack the Ripper’s victims.

On New Year’s Eve 1878, Ann Roach marched into the inn and accused Bridget Brannan of maliciously gossiping about her to the inn’s widowed landlady, Ellen Birch. Ann hit Bridget with a poker and later tried to stab her in the throat with a fork, for which she was sentenced to six months’ hard labour.

Ann and Bridget lived in the notorious “Elephant Yard” behind the inn. Two weeks after being assaulted, Bridget was evicted into the street at midnight and had her pawn tickets seized in lieu of rent, on Mrs Birch’s orders. Bridget couldn’t pay the rent as her alcoholic, violent husband was unemployed.

In 1883 two other female residents fought in the Elephant Yard. One used a knife to cut “clean through the lower lip and chin to the jawbone”.

Mrs Birch’s barman and henchman was Gordon Ross Christian, who already had 14 criminal convictions when he was sentenced to 15 months’ hard labour in 1880 for inducing teenage boys to steal 17 ducks and geese from three local men, in return for drink.

With thanks to Dr Hazel Pierce, of The History House

Postcode: LL13 8BT    View Location Map

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