Buckley is situated in the east of Flintshire on the range of hills which extends between the valley of the River Alyn and the narrow plain beside the Dee Estuary.
The highest point is 518 feet above sea level and the town covers over 4 square miles. Buckley is 9 miles west of Chester and 11 miles north Wrexham and is easily accessible via the A55 which links with the M56 and M53 Motorways. Map available at Location and Travel section of web site menu.
There has been some form of civilisation in or near present day Buckley for many hundreds of years. Remains are still being discovered and investigations show evidence of habitation in the Bronze Age. Invasion after invasion brought a stormy succession of Celts, Romans, Anglo Saxons and Normans but from each tribe the civilisation and culture of the district developed. Religion and justice, mine works and potteries, land cultivation and road communications were among the many benefits which accrued. The first Christian Church was founded at Bistre or Biscopestreu (Tree of the Bishops) by St. Deiniol in AD550 where people gathered to worship before church buildings were erected and it was here in the 7th Century that a group of missionaries from Rome preached. This copestrey stretched from Bannel to Gwysaney and is mentioned in the Domesday Survey of 1086.
The name Buckley first emerges at the time of the Norman Conquest although Bistre (now a part of Buckley but with a wider parish boundary) was the principal settlement. "Meadow Grass Land in a Wood" is one literal translation of the ancient place name Boklee.
In 1093 a chapel was built in the Spon Green area of the town and was maintained first by Monks from the Benedictine Abbey at Chester and then by Hawarden Church until the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII. The Chapel offered hospitality to travellers providing rest, food and money if necessary. The last remains of this ancient edifice were demolished in the 17th century.
Henry V on his marriage Kathyrn in 1423 selected, as an annual gift to his wife, Ewloe and the pastorage of Buckley which were worth £26 per annum.
The parish church of St Matthew was consecrated in 1822. A new chancel in memory of the great statesman and five times Prime Minister, W. E Gladstone of nearby Hawarden was completed in 1901 and the porch is a memorial to John Ruskin, the famous author and art critic. Work was later carried out on a new western tower which houses a good peel of eight bells.
Although Bistre is the oldest place in the town, its parish church, in early gothic style with an embattled belfry tower above its west porch entrance, dates from only 1842. The church yard, however, existed as a burial ground before this date. Buckley is unique in that the town has two ecclesiastical parishes. Nearby Alltami has the first Primitive Methodist Church in North Wales although the present building is not the original.
In the medieval period, Buckley was the common land of six townships: Argoed; Bistre; Ewloe; Ewloe Wood; Pentrobin and Bannel. There were squatters rights on the common. If a squatter could build a cottage between sunrise and sunset with smoke coming out of the chimney by the end of the day the freehold ownership was his by ancient right.
At one time there were 14 potteries in the town one of which was set up by Jonathan Catherall in 1737. Catherall was a staunch non-conformist and received special dispensation from Lord Hawkesbury, after whom he named his house, to hold services at his house. As they became more popular, he built the first non-conformist chapel known as, Chapel in the Meadow. He wished to erect a bell tower for this Chapel using a ships’ bell he bought in Cork for £12, but the Vicar of Hawarden objected as only established churches could have bells. He therefore erected a bell tower in the grounds of his new house with the approval of Lord Hawkesbury. The site of this unique non-conformist bell tower is marked by a mound and plaque near the new Skateboard Park at the Elfed Sports Complex.
As services became even more popular the Chapel in the Meadow was first enlarged and subsequently demolished to be replaced by a new building which has subsequently been demolished and replaced by the present St John’s United Reformed Church.
In addition to pottery, there were numerous brick works in the town and Buckley Brick is today world-renowned. There were also many coal mines in the town.
The local miners in those days did not have pit-head baths and in the majority of cases, lacked proper bathing facilities at home, there was also concern about drowning tragedies due to people swimming in the clay holes created as a result of brick making. To address these problems, the local Mine Owners, under a Government Scheme donated monies to a Welfare Fund. The fund was managed and distributed by local Miners Welfare Committees, the local Committee built a swimming pool which included slipper baths. This was the only public swimming pool in the area and the name Buckley Baths became synonymous with the town of Buckley. A successful swimming club has existed since 1928. The original baths are now closed having been replaced by a new state-of-the-art facility in the Elfed Sports Complex in 2005.
The Buckley Jubilee, traditionally held on the second Tuesday in July, was founded in 1857. It is an institution in which the citizens of Buckley are justly proud. It is suggested that the Jubilee was initiated by the endeavours of various non-conformists intent on promoting temperance in the community. To this end a procession was organised to demonstrate unity followed by a field day and gala of games for the children together with food and non-alcoholic drinks. In 2006 the Jubilee celebrated its 150th year. The Royal Buckley Town Band accompanies the singing at the open-air festival held on Higher Common to begin the event and banners are displayed by individual Churches. The Anglican Sunday Schools joined the Jubilee in 1933. Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church joined the Jubilee procession in 1970.
The Buckley Society is an excellent source for further information and for dates of their regular lectures/films please visit: http://www.buckleysociety.org.uk