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Crab Mill

A Grade II Listed Building in Ruabon, Wrexham

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Latitude: 52.9742 / 52°58'27"N

Longitude: -3.0034 / 3°0'12"W

OS Eastings: 332718

OS Northings: 342347

OS Grid: SJ327423

Mapcode National: GBR 75.JNXY

Mapcode Global: WH89B.VH0Q

Entry Name: Crab Mill

Listing Date: 31 December 2004

Last Amended: 31 December 2004

Grade: II

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 83277

Building Class: Domestic

Location: On the south side of a lane which runs west from the small hamlet of Pen-y-lan, immediately east of Wynnstay Park.

County: Wrexham

Community: Ruabon (Rhiwabon)

Community: Ruabon

Locality: Pen-y-lan

Traditional County: Denbighshire

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Crab Mill has its origins as a medieval cruck-framed hall house, which survives in fragmentary form encapsulated in a probably early C19 reconstruction, itself in several phases. Externally, the building appears to be a typical C19 smallholding, comprising house with attached cow-houses under the same roof. Fragments of stone walling provide some indication of a more complex history, which is more fully revealed inside the building, where two cruck trusses survive almost intact, defining the outer partitions of a former hall. The building sequence appears to be as follows: i. a 3-unit simple rectangular medieval (C15) hall-house with central 2 bay hall, paired inner rooms (at the dais end of the hall), and possible parlour in the outer unit. ii. the insertion of a chimney into hall (perhaps c1700), presumably associated with the addition of an upper floor. iii. reconstruction of external walls partially in stone, and then more comprehensively in brick, early C19, together with re-roofing to provide a full upper storey. The original layout with a single outer room (beyond the passage) and its later form as house and cow-house in-line raises the question of whether it had originated as a long-house. The quality of the doorway in the passage partition, and evidence that this partition was originally 'closed' (ie with infilled panels from the outset), suggest otherwise; presumably the building descended in status from small peasant hall to small-holding.


Largely brick of local type, though different phases of construction are indicated by differences in the colour and bonding of the brickwork. Corrugated sheet roof, over remains of pegged slate-work (visible internally). A long 2 storeyed range, comprising two lofted cow-houses to the left, and the dwelling to the right. Axial and right-hand gable stacks to dwelling. This has doorway alongside the central stack, with window to its right in camber-headed opening (window detail lost); two further windows (boarded over) to right, with smaller openings above (one retaining remnants of a 2-light casement). Some sandstone rubble masonry in gable end and in rear elevation, which has doorway with cambered head and window alongside in central unit, further window on each floor to right.
To the left of the house, the first cow house has doorways at each end, both apparently inserted; the camber-headed opening of an earlier doorway is visible immediately to the left of the right-hand doorway; a blocked window to the right of the left-hand doorway has a similar head. Diamond vent at centre, and three similar vents above, with loft opening offset to left. 2 tiers of similar vents in rear elevation. To the right, a further cow-house has red sandstone rubble masonry to much of ground floor, and doorway with cambered brick head to left. Small loft opening above. Blind to rear, but with continuous brick band in upper storey.


The house has a 3-unit plan, with the cruck trusses that flanked the original hall now forming the end wall to the left (between dwelling and cow-house), and the partition between the second and third units to the right. A central truss is postulated, removed on insertion of the brick chimney stack. The left-hand truss formed the passage partition, and has single central doorway with shouldered moulded 'Caernarfon' arch. Above the tie-beam, the partition has a central post to a slightly cambered collar, on which the stump of a possible king-post sits. Brick infill to panels, replacing the original wattle-work. The dais partition has outer doorways, with the mutilated remains of chamfered arched heads probably also of 'Caernarfon' type. Above the tie-beam, paired posts are jointed to an arched collar, which has a distinctive steep apex. Both trusses are truncated at the apex, associated with the reconstruction of the house to a higher roof line in the early C19 if not earlier. Following insertion of the chimney stack, the central bay became the main living room of the house, and has large fireplace with heavy timber bressumer, and remains of a bread oven. Smaller fireplace in right-hand room, which has partial cellar towards rear: this is red sandstone walled, apparently of a piece with the similar walling which forms the sill of the cruck-framed partition; a blocked doorway under this partition suggests that the cellar may once have extended under the hall. Fragments of the earlier framing appear to have been re-used as beams within the house, including lengths of purlin with mortices for wind-braces.
Interior of cow-houses largely modern; though large (blocked) opening in the dividing wall between them has heavy timber lintel, perhaps re-used.

Reasons for Listing

Listed as the important surviving remains of a medieval hall-house, retaining cruck-trusses of remarkable quality and notable especially for the unusual 'Caernarfon arch' doorheads; these represent high quality detail and enable the original layout of the house to be understood. The medieval structural elements are encapsulated within a C19 brick small-holding range itself of good local vernacular character.

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