The Red Hand of Chirk

The top of the Davies Gates, showing the Myddelton coat-of-arms and the Red Hand

So long ago that exact dates and times have been forgotten, the Lord of Chirk Castle faced a major problem: twenty years previously, his wife had given birth to twin boys, and as he was now growing older, he would soon have to decide which of his sons would inherit the castle and the estate.

He summoned both sons to his chamber, and told them the problem. He had brought them up to be practical and resourceful, and he was delighted to learn that they had already recognised the situation, and discussed it at length.

After long conversations, they had decided that the fairest way of solving the problem would be to hold a race, from the castle’s portcullis to the lake – the winner of the race would be the one to put his hand across the winning tape, and he would inherit everything. The loser would leave the area forever.

The old man accepted their solution, and as his sons were keen to clear the matter once and for all, the day of the race was set.

The young men were physically identical, but very different in character: one was patient, gentle and popular with everyone, whereas the other was short-tempered, devious and with a deeply selfish personality. All the castle staff hoped that the popular brother would win the race, inherit the castle, and thus be their future master!

So, with all the servants watching intently, the brothers began to race: at first, there was no difference between them, but gradually, amidst much cheering, the popular brother pulled ahead!

Nearly at the lake, and the end of the race, the result seemed certain, as there was now a good distance between the runners – but at that point the unpopular brother, now trailing by a few yards, drew his sword, hacked off his own hand, and then with a lunge, threw it over the winning tape!

We know nothing of the result of this action - whether the ‘bad’ brother lived to inherit after the massive loss of blood which would have come from such a dreadful wound – or whether he died shortly after, leaving his ‘good’ brother the castle and the estates.

The story of the ‘red hand’ of Chirk is still told to this day when people from Chirk talk about the old days . . .