Originally a small farm house close to Clay’s Farm on the Holt Road heading out of Wrexham, Brynestyn was part of the Erlas Hall estate, belonging to the Davies [Puleston] Family.
It passed by marriage into the wealthy Kyffin family, who owned it until 1783 when Sir Thomas Kyffin sold it to the Wrexham Mercer (Textile Merchant) and banker Richard Myddleton Massie Lloyd, who, shortly afterwards built the first Bryn Estyn Hall on the land.
The architect was Joseph Turner.
Brynestyn Hall was the birthplace and later the home of Richard’s son, Sir William Lloyd, a professional soldier, cartographer, mountaineer, local magistrate and one time High Sheriff of Denbighshire.
Following the death of Sir William on 16th May 1857, the Brynestyn estate became part of the Plas Power estate of the Fitzhugh’s, before being inherited by Emily Fitzhugh, the wife of Captain Charles Rumney Godfrey, and upon who’s death in 1893, was then inherited by his son Rumley Frederick Godfrey, until the estate was sold to the Wrexham Brewer, Frederick W. Soames.
Soames demolished the old hall in 1903, constructing the present building some distance east of the original structure, the following year.
Built from the plans of Messrs. Grayson & Ould of Liverpool, it was a large, Elizabethan style mansion, which in appearance gave the impression of being much older, but this was done intentionally, and the use of stone roofing slabs certainly helped.
When sold in 1928, (when it was the property of Mrs F.W. Soames), Bryn Estyn was described as ‘a replica of a Cheshire Manor House’ with twenty bedrooms and dressing rooms, two bathrooms, a billiard room, five reception rooms, garage for five cars, stabling for eleven horses, stud grooms and other cottages, a fitted laundry, central heating, telephone, electric light, two tennis and croquet lawns, an ornamental lake, a walled kitchen garden, a home farm and timbered parkland extending to 95 acres, ‘for sale at half it’s original cost”.
Not much is recorded about about the building or it’s occupants, other than it was leased to a number of private tenants, until it was acquired by a Chester Board of Trustees on the 21st of August 1940, who re purposed Bryn Estyn as a Home Office Approved School.
The addition of an ablution block and numerous interior alterations, changed Bryn Estyn from a sumptious mansion to a school.
The outward appearance of a mansion, as well as much of the beautiful interior panelling had been retained, but drastic changes to various rooms were deemed necessary.
It began operating as a Home Office Approved School (Intermediate), for the training of eighty boys in January 1942, the remaining work on the building being carried out by the boys themselves.
Boys between the ages of 13 and 15 years were admitted to the school, approximately half of whom would be under 14 years of age.
Full schoolroom instruction was provided by two qualified teachers, one of whom combined the duties of Deputy Headmaster.
The work provided for the boys was varied and specifically designed to be practical in nature, the Joinery and Building trades being favoured.
The Garden Department was the other main trade training section of Bryn Estyn, providing instruction for 24 boys, who had expressed an interest in learning Horticulture.
A library was added towards the latter part of 1943, which comprised of general reading matter and reference materials which reflected the trades and hobbies of the school.
During the subsequent years since the opening, much work was carried out on the site, including the adaption of the cottages for staff accommodation, the extension and levelling of the sports field, construction of garages, a gymnasium, a Cadet Force Training Headquarters, a Building Dept. Workshop, and in 1957, an outdoor swimming pool was built.
The majority of the work, including the excavation of the ground, the surfacing tiles and surround, was carried out by the boys of the building department, with assistance from the other groups under the direction of their instructors.
Mr. and Mrs. Harold James Bennett, the Headmaster and Matron of Bryn Estyn since it’s opening, retired in 1967 after 26 years, being replaced by Mr. David Ursell, who was previously deputy headmaster at Dobroyd Castle School, near Manchester.
Bryn Estyn, as an institution, operated quietly and almost invisibly within the Wrexham community, attracting very little outside attention, except for some incidences of vandalism in the local community by the boys, and some disciplinary disputes among the staff.
David Ursull however, was suspended in 1972, subsequently replaced by Peter Burton, aged 39, who along with his 37-year-old wife Marie, Andrew David, their 7-year-old son and the Bryn Estyn deputy, were tragically killed in an road traffic accident near Crewe, Cheshire in November 1972.
Bryn Estyn Approved School had remained the responsibility of the Home Office until the 1st of October 1973, when it became a local authority “Community Home’ with education on the premises.
Responsibility for the running of the establishment was then passed to the former Denbighshire County Council, until the 1st of April 1974, when the newly formed Clwyd County Council took over.
Granville Bernard (Matt) Arnold, took over as Headmaster in 1973, from his former position of Headmaster of Axwell Park School, County Durham.
The position of Deputy head was filled that November, by Peter Norman Howarth, who had followed him from Axwell Park.
Bryn Estyn as a residential school finally closed it’s doors on the 30th of September 1984….