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Please note that the date line should read 'January 26, 1785'.
It is with some sadness that I invite you to browse the contents of this catalogue. The Myddelton family have been associated with Chirk Castle since 1595, when my ancestor Sir Thomas Myddelton acquired the Castle and it's Estate for the then enormous sum of £5,000. Sir Thomas was the fourth of the nine sons of Richard Myddelton, Governor of Denbigh Castle in the reign of Edward VI, and was an Alderman and merchant in London. Being a younger son of such a large family, he had sought his fortune, and indeed amassed a very large one. In 1603 he became Sheriff of London, and Lord Mayor in 1613.
In 1612, Sir Thomas settled Chirk on his eldest son, also Sir Thomas, on the occasion of his marriage. This second Sir Thomas became the great Civil War general, renowned for his successes on behalf of the Parliamentarians in the border country, although he had lost Chirk to the Royalists in 1642. He later tired of the 'greater tyranny' that had been established, provoking the new powers to put a garrison into Chirk until he gave a bond of £20,000 for his good behaviour. By 1659, he had declared for King Charles II in the ill-fated Cheshire Rising. The Royalists were soundly beaten, and General Lambert laid siege to Chirk, rifling and ruining it to render the Castle uninhabitable until at least £30,000 had been spent in repairs.
Sir Thomas the Civil War General died in 1666, at the great age of 80, and was succeeded by his son, the next Sir Thomas, created baronet by King Charles II on 4th July 1660. The baronetcy was conferred in recognition of services to the exiled King, but became extinct by 1718 on the death of the 4th baronet who had no issue.
From here the Castle and its lands passed to grandsons of the Civil War General, the first of whom, Robert Myddelton, produced no heir, but gave Chirk the immensely impressive wrought-iron gates in 1720; and the second of whom, John Myddelton, produced not only an heir, but also the early collection of books which form part of the Library.
John Myddelton's son, Richard, was responsible for the neo-Classical redecorations of the mid to late 18th Century. During his 48 year tenure of Chirk the remodelling of both the interiors of the Castle, and the Park landscape, led to serious financial difficulties, but I believe that the results were well worth the difficulty!
Richard Myddelton's son, also Richard, survived his father by only a year, and then the family estates became divided between three daughters. The eldest of these, Charlotte, inherited Chirk, and married Robert Biddulph of Ledbury. They called themselves Myddelton Biddulph, the Biddulph name being retained until 1899 when their grandson changed his name back to Myddelton.
Charlotte Myddelton Biddulph managed the Chirk estate in an autocratic manner following the death of her husband in 1814. She survived him for a further twenty-nine years, managing the estate for her son Robert Myddelton Biddulph, and there are many anecdotal stories from the village of Chirk of the 'grand old lady', and the way in which she ran her 'empire'. We attribute the Bow Drawing Room, and its wonderful vaulted ceiling, to Charlotte's tenure.
Robert Myddelton Biddulph represented the county of Denbighshire as a Liberal in Parliament, and was Colonel of the Militia. County representation in Parliament was expected of the family; nearly every generation to date had been involved in this way, and this also provided an opportunity to be at Court, and to remain in touch with the latest fashion and tastes. It was at this time that the neo-Gothic alterations and redecorations of A.W.N. Pugin were instructed.
My great-great-grandfather, Richard Myddelton Biddulph, reassumed the name Myddelton in 1899. He, too, carried out some Gothic revivalist alterations to the Castle, principally in the conversion of two smaller rooms to one larger to house a new Library for the collection of books first started over a century previously.
Richard Myddelton died in 1913; having accrued considerable mortgages, and with the advent of the Wealth Tax, he was obliged to sell the village of Chirk in 1911 and about 1,300 acres of land. This improved the financial position, but it was also decided to lease the Castle and Estate to Thomas, 8th Lord Howard de Walden.
Thus Richard's son, Robert Edward Myddelton, did not live at Chirk during his tenure until the Howard de Walden's gave up the Castle in 1946. He did, however, see out his remaining days here, dying at Chirk in 1949.
My grandparents came to live at Chirk in 1946; my grandfather, Ririd, wanted to 'make a go of it' with my grandmother, Lady Margaret, and together they set about doing exactly that. But the realities of running such a vast property soon became apparent; the Castle was opened to the public in the 1950s, and this led to my father being unwilling to live in it when the time came. After a prolonged period of negotiation, the Castle and approximately 400 acres of Park were acquired by the State in 1978, to be handed on to the National Trust in 1981.
My grandparents continued to live at Chirk; after Ririd's death in 1988, my grandmother stayed on and I came to Chirk to join her in 1990. Last year Lady Margaret died at the great age of 93, and it was the passing of an era.
Chirk is now a very public place, not a place to live in quiet enjoyment with a young family. The rooms which we occupy are expensive to run, and unsuitable for modern living but I hope that we shall be able to keep a much smaller apartment for occasional use, maintaining our proud link with the house.
We cannot possibly take with us to a smaller house all of the furniture, pictures, books - and funny things that we have found in the attics! Whilst much of the original contents of the Public Rooms have happily already been secured, either by loan or negotiated sale, for Chirk, the National Trust is facing financial challenges and thus, in spite of protracted negotiations, they were unable to acquire the contents of the Family wing. This provides me with the opportunity of offering you the chance to buy your own piece of history from Chirk. I do hope that you are successful.