Northop is a village in the county of Flintshire in North East Wales. It sits midway between the town of Flint (on the Dee estuary) to the north, and the county town of Mold to the south. Being close to the border the village of Northop would have suffered a troubled past. Indeed the name itself is a cause of some dispute. Some saying it derives from North of Hope (a village south of Northop). Others suggest it is derived from North and Thorpe, the latter word meaning village or town in the Saxon language. The name Northop was in use after the surrender of Chester to Egbert of Wessex, circa AD 828, when Flintshire was brought under Saxon rule.
Moreover, to confuse matters further, Northop has another name, the Welsh name of Llaneurgain. Llaneurgain derives from St Eurgain (daughter of Maelgwn King of Gwynedd and niece of Asaph) who, in the 6th century, is reputed to have founded her Llan or church on the site of the village's most prominent landmark the Church of St Eurgain and St Peter.
The Church of St Eurgain and St Peter: In the 6th Century St Eurgain (daughter of Maelgwn King of Gwynedd, is reputed to have founded her Llan or church on the site of what is now known as Northop. Records indicate that there was a stone church erected here during the 12th century. The church was enlarged in the late 15th Century under the patronage of Margaret Beaufort (mother of Henry V11 and benefactor to several North East Wales' churches including St Winefride's Holywell, St Mary's Mold, and St Giles' Wrexham). The building of the fine Perpendicular tower, initiated in the late 15th to 16th century, was completed to its 98-foot height in 1571, as evidenced by the date found carved on a gargoyle.
The Pilgrim Trail: The late Middle Ages were the heyday of religious pilgrimage and in North Wales there were two pilgrim destinations: Bardsey Island off the Lleyn peninsula, and St Winifride's Well at Holywell on the north Flintshire coast. St Winefride was one of only two Welsh saints recognised by the Church of Rome in the late Middle Ages. For pilgrims coming from the direction of Chester Northop would have been on the route for both Holywell and Bardsey and as such was recognised as an important staging post on the medieval Pilgrim's Trail.
From Pack Horses to Mail Coaches: For many centuries, Northop was a bustling village and a welcome haven for weary packhorse trains, post riders and Mail coaches. Six or seven centuries ago the route through Northop formed a vital link for medieval traders between the towns of Chester on the English border and Denbigh in the Vale of Clwyd. Trains of packhorses would pass through the village numbering anything from six to thirty ponies and each would be carrying loads of up to five hundred pounds of corn or coal. In 1602 Northop became a post town on the London to Holyhead post road, and by 1776 there were seven Inns in Northop. Today there still exists a considerable architectural legacy of Northop's role as a staging post on the medieval trade route and the London to Holyhead Mail Route but only two of the original seven Inns survive.
The Red Lion was originally an inn with a coach house. Between 1785 and 1811 when the coaches were re-routed via Shrewsbury, the villagers of Northop would have endured the nightly clatter of the horses' hooves, the sounding of the Post horn and the melee of the changeover of teams of horses.
The Boot, still a popular Inn as evidenced from the number of vehicles parked outside, is one of the oldest inns in the village probably pre-dating 1717 when a map indicated a substantial building on the site. Behind the pub can be found the Northop Brook, it retains the original ford with a stone slabbed pedestrian crossing.
The Old Smithy: The Old Smithy on the High Street, now a private house, was originally a Blacksmith's shop servicing mail coaches. The last horse was shod in 1978 and the smithy closed in 1988, being used solely as an Ironmonger for its final years.
The Old Free Grammar School: The Old Grammar School, which dates back to the 16th century, still stands in the grounds of St Eurgain and St Peters. There were few schools in Wales at the turn of the 17th century and it seems likely that Northop was one of the first villages in Flintshire to have a school. Thought to have been built in 1608 The Old Free Grammar School was flourishing by 1615 and in addition to the salary of schoolmaster, provision was also made for the payment of an usher. Several local people of note were educated there, including, circa 1675, John Wynne, who later built Soughton Hall.
Llys Edwin: The historic site of Llys Edwin, a medieval fortified house and hamlet sits on the outskirts of Northop. The site would originally have consisted of timber buildings dating from Saxon times, and probably replaced by a stone castle or palace around the 13th century. The last building on the site was erected in the early 14th century but of this, there is no trace other than the outlines of moats and mounds. Edwyn ab Gronow, Prince of Tegengl, also known as Edwin of Tegeingl (b1017) was a chieftain of mixed Welsh and Saxon blood to whom many famous Flintshire families attributed their origin. He was killed in 1073 in battle with the forces of William the Conqueror. Llys Edwin remained in the same family until the time of Owain Glyndwr in the early 15th century. The effigy of Edwyn ab Gronow, Prince of Tegengl may be seen within the old church of St Eurgain and St Peter's in the village of Northop.