The Parish of Bettisfield

church in snow

St John the Baptist Church, Bettisfield

Bettisfield lies not quite half a mile beyond St. John the Baptist’s Church. The first sight of the village is achieved by swooping up a large and abrupt hump-back bridge over the Llangollen canal to find the houses spread out below.  If you are using a sat-nav to find us then enter the postcode SY13 2LB.

The village is adjacent to the Fenn’s, Whixall & Bettisfield Mosses National Nature Reserve, the third largest area of lowland raised bog in Britain. Composed of sphagnum moss peat, these bogs were heavily exploited for commercial peat cutting and were drained to facilitate construction of the Llangollen canal and the Ellesmere to Whitchurch railway and to provide agricultural land.

Moss land was requisitioned as a bombing and firing range and for decoy sites to draw bombing away from Merseyside.

The Mosses were acquired as a National Nature Reserve in 1990 and are being restored. They are home to rare species of butterfly and dragonfly, as well as to a wide variety of waterfowl, voles and adders. There are waymarked paths through the reserve, some accessible by wheelchair.

The Hanmer estates, which have been sold out of the family, include Bettisfield Hall, the tall brick building opposite the church, and Bettisfield Park, which may be glimpsed from the road to Hanmer.

Like Bronington, tBettisfield was part of the parish of Hanmer. In 1851 the vicar started to conduct Sunday evening services, first in the village shop, then in a wooden chapel, which was dedicated to St. Chad. In 1872 Bettisfield became a parish in its own right.

The wooden chapel was replaced by a stone church in 1874. Once again the Hanmer family provided the funds and St. John the Baptist’s church was built. This, the present church, is made of Grinsall stone and if you stand beside the rocket-shaped tower looking back towards the lych gate, you can see Grinsall Hill in the distance.