Erddig, the whole story
In 1682, Joshua Edisbury was appointed High Sheriff of Denbighshire; it was to be the making of Erddig, and the unmaking of Edisbury.
Edisbury chose the dramatic site on an escarpment above the winding River Clywedog a mile south of Wrexham. On 1 November 1683, Thomas Webb, freemason of Middlewich in Cheshire, ‘covenanted and agreed to undertake and perform the care and oversight of contriving, building and finishing of a case or body of a new house’. Work began in 1684 on a house, nine bays wide. But he overstretched himself and by 1709 was bankrupt.
John Meller, a successful London lawyer, bought up the debts of Joshua Edisbury. Once he had purchased Erddig he set about furnishing his new house with the very best furniture and fabrics. He began extending it to the north and south by the addition of two-storey wings, his 'rooms of parade'.
With no wife or children Meller looked to his sister's son, Simon Yorke, to supervise the completion and delivery of his valuable new furnishings for Erddig. He then bequeathed the house to his nephew Simon on his death in 1733.
The Yorke dynasties
Simon Yorke I
Simon Yorke I inherited Erddig from his uncle John Meller in 1733. Erddig was owned by the Yorke family for 240 years; each successive owner being called either Simon or Philip.
Simon Yorke I enjoyed his good fortune, developing the garden but doing little to the house. His marriage to heiress Dorothy Hutton produced one son, Philip.
Philip Yorke I
Philip Yorke I inherited Erddig on his father's death in 1767. An inheritance from his mother's brother meant he was able to marry Elizabeth Cust, daughter of Sir John Cust of Belton.
The inheritance and her dowry helped finance their changes to Erddig, including:
- the Saloon
- the Library
- new furnishings and wallpaper
- re-casing the west front of the house in stone, and
- building the new kitchen, domestic offices and stable yard.
On his death in 1804 he left Erddig to his eldest son, Simon.
Simon Yorke II - a new era
Simon Yorke II married Margaret Holland and they had six children, two of which died in infancy.
Simon Yorke II was sociable and entertained family and friends. He soon saw the need for a large dining room. He commissioned Thomas Hopper to create a large room in Meller's southern suite of rooms, at the same time refurbishing other rooms in the wing, installing underfloor heating and a bell system.
He was succeeded by his eldest surviving son, Simon.
Simon Yorke III - the gardener
Simon Yorke III made many alterations to the park and gardens, creating the steps from the saloon making better access to the re-laid out parterre with its new fountains.
He and his wife Victoria Cust also created a Music Room in the Entrance Hall, moving the front entrance to the Tribes Room.
After his death in 1894 his son Philip moved back to Erddig.
Age of austerity
Philip Yorke II and his wife Louisa Scott made few alterations to Erddig but worked to preserve the house and its contents with a diminishing number of servants.
Simon Yorke IV inherited Erddig in 1922 at the age of 19. The estate was in serious financial trouble and few staff remained. The nationalisation of the Coal Board in 1947 meant that coal was mined from beneath the house and serious subsidence took place.
Simon became a recluse with no electricity and no telephone, keeping away from the outside world. Erddig declined but Simon refused to part with anything and all remained intact.
Philip Yorke III - entrusting Erddig
Philip Yorke III inherited Erddig on his brother's death. Neither brother had married, so Philip began negotiations to entrust Erddig to the National Trust. The National Trust took ownership in 1973 and began a four year period of restoration.
Philip died in 1978. But as the last Squire of Erddig, Philip lived long enough to see Erddig returned to the former glory of the home he remembered as a child.
Philip Yorke III had saved:
" This unique establishment for which my family have forgone many luxuries and comforts over seven generations."