The main street of Overton-on-Dee
It is situated on the edge of an escarpment which winds its way around the course of the River Dee, from which Overton-on-Dee derives its name.
The parish of Overton, which also includes the village of Lightwood Green and a number of small hamlets, had a total population of 1,276 at the 2001 census.
Overton-on-Dee is seven miles from Wrexham and exactly 22 miles from both Chester and Shrewsbury. Its neighbouring villages are Bangor-on-Dee and Penley whilst the small towns of Ellesmere and Ruabon are only a short distance away.
The hamlet of Overton Bridge is a distinct settlement west of the town above the Dee and the road bridge that carries the A528 road across the river.
One of Overton's earliest appearances in history was as one of the first targets of the revolt of 1294-95, led by Madog ap Llywelyn against the forces of King Edward I.
St Mary the Virgin Church and its yew trees
The churchyard of St Mary the Virgin dominates the high street and is famous for twenty-one very ancient Taxus baccata|yew trees. The yew trees are traditionally one of the Seven Wonders of Wales and commemorated in an anonymously written rhyme:
- Pistyll Rhaeadr and Wrexham steeple,
- Snowdon's mountain without its people,
- Overton yew trees, St Winefride wells,
- Llangollen bridge, and Gresford bells.
At 1,500 to 2,000 years old, the oldest tree predates the church, whose earliest stonework is probably Norman. In 1992 the village celebrated the 700th anniversary of the granting of a Royal Charter to Overton by King Edward I in 1292 with a royal visit from Queen Elizabeth II who planted a new yew tree.
Buildings and heritage
Overton has a fine collection of 18th and 19th century buildings, many of which are listed as buildings of architectural or historic interest. Even the old telephone box has been "listed". The village centre is also designated as a Conservation Area.
Most of the town was once owned by the Bryn-y-pys Estate. The 1848 sale particulars, with 4,300 acres and a majority of the houses and farms in the town, run to several pages. It was made clear that the estate wielded "Great Political Influence", as without the secret ballot at general elections, the purchaser, who would be virtually everyone's landlord, was guaranteed of a place in Parliament.
There are several interesting buildings in the town including: the "Cocoa and Reading Rooms", a terracotta building of 1890, built to promulgate Temperance movement|temperance, now the library; almshouses and a Victorian village pump.
The village has the usual sporting recreational areas of cricket, football, bowls and tennis, but more interesting, it has a boules pitch which is used for competition with its twinned town of La Murette in France. Overton is also an excellent rendezvous point for walkers as it finds itself on the map of the Maelor Way, a 24-mile long-distance footpath; this in turn links up with Offa's Dyke Path National Trail at Bronygarth and the Sandstone Trail, Llangollen Canal, South Cheshire Way, and the Marches Way.
- Gordon Emery - Guide to the Maelor Way (1991) ISBN 1-872265-98-7
- Gordon Emery - Curious Clwyd (1994) ISBN 1-872265-99-5
- Gordon Emery - Curious Clwyd 2 (1996) ISBN 1-872265-97-9
- Parish Headcounts: Overton Community, Office of National Statistics