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The Wolf’s Den, Erddig

January 1, 2016


Happy New Year, everyone. I wish you all a joyous 2016.

Back in August last year, Maureen and I, along with other Cross-Border Poets, visited Erddig, the historic country home near Wrexham, North Wales, now owned by the National Trust, a wonderful place where past and present seem to co-exist.

I skipped the workshop but enjoyed having a look around, got myself thoroughly lost in ‘Big Wood’ and wished, as so often, that I had a sense of direction! When eventually I emerged to join Maureen at the café, it was with the beginnings of a new poem in my head.

Writing The Wolf’s Den (a haibun), I enjoyed taking on the persona of a fire-and-brimstone preacher who carries out exorcisms. Reading it to live audiences, I have great fun.

Don’t be nervous now…



Lupus, nine centuries on I come for you. And what better place to start my search than here, two wolves carved from sweet chestnut, one howling, the other on its belly, brooding over crossed paws.

The Wolf’s Den, this natural play area beneath tall trees, was named after you, Hugh d’Avranches, Norman overlord, scourge of the Welsh: ‘Hugh the Wolf’ (Hugh Lupus) so called for your savagery in the King’s cause, ‘Hugh the Fat’ for your gluttonous bulk…


kiddies swing and climb

wild garlic the tang

of ancient bloodshed


The cry of a buzzard, the song of Black Brook. I feel the cool breath of Big Wood and go in search of your motte-and-bailey fortress with its scarps and ditches: Wristleham Castle, as probably known in your dark days of old.  Only the earthworks remain, your timber towers long since perished and gone.

Deep in the woods I find you, glowering down from the gnarled bole of a medieval oak. And I steel myself before your true visage.

Lupus, in the name of God, be gone!

Paul Beech


Author’s Note: Hugh d’Avranches (Lupus) was born c1047, became the First Earl of Chester 1071 and died 27 July 1101, four days after becoming a monk. 

Copyright © Paul Beech 2015



  1. It’s a great poem Paul. I know it went down very well when you performed it at the Erddig summer festival. And how proud of you I felt.

    All my love.
    Maureen xx

    • Maureen, my darling, thank you. I shall always remember the festival fondly and how proud of YOU I was. You read so well. You were simply the best.

      Very much love from

      Paul xxx

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