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Follow in footsteps of historic passions; TALES OF LONG-AGO LOVERS INSPIRE WALKS.


A LOVE story between two servants at Erddig, the tale of Charles Darwin's childhood sweetheart who moved to Chirk Castle and a "secret" park at Bodnant Garden have been transformed into walking routes.

The secret stories are being revealed as part of a new heritage trail linking six North Wales National Trust sites also including Powis Castle, Penrhyn Castle and Plas Newydd by challenging visitors to discover the hidden history of these special places.

The lovers' route at Erddig winds through little known parts of the estate, where servant Lucy explored with her future husband during their snatches of free time.

Servants were not generally encouraged to mix at the estate; single sex living quarters and long working hours limited any prospects for fraternisation.

But the nurse Lucy met her future husband during her daily care of the youngest boys.

Romance blossomed and after Ernest survived the war, they were married in 1919.

Once the boys grew up, Lucy's role as governess was redundant and she and Ernest opened a butcher's shop. She returned to Erddig during World War Two as housekeeper.

Pat Roberts, a volunteer guide said: "The boys would ride ponies and Ernest the footman had to prepare and escort them. Lucy would come along as the boy's nurse and the two got closer and closer."

The Chirk Castle walk story starts when young naturalist Charles Darwin set sail on HMS Beagle in December 1831.

While Darwin was exploring the Galapagos Islands, his childhood sweetheart Fanny Owen married Robert Myddelton Biddulph and made her home in the 14th century fortress. When Fanny accepted the proposal, Darwin was the first person she wrote to: "Believe me Charles no change of name or condition can ever alter or diminish the feelings of sincere regard and affection I have for years had for you. And as soon as you return from your wanderings I shall be much offended if one of your first rides is not to see me at Chirk Castle and find out what curious beetles the place produces." ? The Heritage Hunt can be downloaded at nationaltrust. Questions, queries, answers and experiences can be shared online using #heritagehunt @NTWales or


The childhood sweetheart of Charles Darwin (right) invited him to Chirk Castle (above) whole servant lovers met secretly in the grounds of Erddig Hall (below) the 'hidden history' tales
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Date:Sep 28, 2013
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