EIGHT years of meticulous research reached its conclusion when a Llangollen author officially launched her book on the history of Trevor Hall and its most famous inhabitants at the town’s library.

The Phoenix Arises, by Pam Williams-Hughes, represents a significant treatise on the subject and is an important contribution to the understanding of a major aspect of the historical fabric of the Dee Valley.

The author won her battle against a brain tumour and severe dyslexia to gain a university degree at the age of 69 when she proudly collected a 2:1 BA Honours in History from Glyndwr University.

Originally from Birmingham, she moved to Llangollen in 2011 after spending her working life first in the Royal Air Force and then with local authorities.

Denbighshire Free Press: Pam Williams-Hughes, centre, launches her book at Llangollen Library.Pam Williams-Hughes, centre, launches her book at Llangollen Library.

She was diagnosed with a brain tumour before she started as a mature student on a fine art degree course at Glyndwr in 2007 and a brain scan revealed the devastating news that the tumour on her pituitary gland had tripled in size in just three months.

Pam had to undergo a life-saving operation which saw the tumour successfully removed.

Despite being told that the growth had not been malignant, her sight was affected.

None of this prevented her research on a range of historical matters, including Victorian crime and the history of Llangollen’s St Collen’s Church, subjects on which she has given a series of expert talks over the past decade.

Work on The Phoenix Arises, which runs to around 300 pages, involved tapping extensively into a huge number of sources, both ancient and more modern.


Denbighshire Free Press: The Phoenix Arises by Pam Williams-HughesThe Phoenix Arises by Pam Williams-Hughes


Published with the assistance of a grant from the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the A3-size book minutely details the hall – first known by its Welsh title of Llys Awr – from 900AD until 2019.

Small compared to most Georgian mansions, it is sited in one of the most beautiful parts of the Dee Valley, or the Vale of Llangollen.

As Pam says in the book’s introduction: “ ...any visitor to the hall will have no idea of its amazing history, or the fantastic people who resided there.

"Nor will any casual glance of the house explain to the viewer how those who lived here long ago helped to change the course of history and kings.”

And arguably none of these dwellers across the centuries has been as colourful as Bishop John Trevor. He rose through the ranks of the then-Roman Catholic Church and the state to become Bishop of St Asaph and Chamberlain of Chester, Flint and North Wales and rub ermined shoulders with the likes of the Black Prince and Owain Glyndwr until falling spectacularly from favour with Richard II after throwing in his lot with that king’s usurper and eventual successor Henry IV.


The author deals with a theory that the good bishop may even have been one of Richard’s eventual murderers, although she quickly dismisses this on the grounds that he was actually in Spain at the time.

The life and times of the first Bishop John and a later inhabitant of the hall, confusingly also known as Bishop John Trevor and who was almost equally at home with chief figures of the medieval period, are both painstakingly researched and presented by the author, who even describes the clothing they would wear and speculation surrounding their sex lives.

Much background is also presented about the characters who staffed the hall and its associated working estate at the time of the bishops, with vivid word portraits of figures such as the fish cook and cellarist.

In line for similar treatment is the hall’s environment including the ferry which once crossed the Dee close to the estate.       

Pam moves the intriguing story on to tell of how the hall and its occupiers fared during subsequent landmark events in British history, like the Tudor period and the Civil War, before heading on into the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries when it developed connections with an industrialist involved with the ill-fated RMS Titanic and a famous creator of pop music.

The Phoenix Arises is lavishly illustrated towards the end with studies of Trevor Hall, inside and out, along with its grounds during more recent centuries.

There is also a series of pull-out charts covering topics such as family trees and timelines before we are presented with the hundreds of sources called upon by the author.

More information on the book is available from Courtyard Books in Llangollen, call 01978 869394.