Welcome to Ruthin
Guide to the Very Best of Ruthin
16 miles - Wrexham 18 miles - Denbigh 8 miles

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  Welcome to Ruthin  
Llangollen 16 miles - Wrexham 18 miles - Denbigh 8 miles


The historical town of Ruthin is situated in North Wales with its origins in the 13th century. This is what was said of the town by Samuel Lewis in ‘A Topographical Dictionary of Wales’, 1833 & 1849:

"A borough, a market and assize town, a parish, and the head of a poor-law union, in the hundred of Ruthin, county of Denbigh; 8 miles (SE by S) from Denbigh, and 210 miles (NW by W) from London. ..... This parish and that of Llanrhud, which were originally one, are bounded on the south by the parish of Llanfair, east by the same and that of Llanarmon yn Ial, west by Llanfwrog, and north by Llanbedr. ..... The surface is beautifully diversified, the eastern part of Llanrhud embracing a portion of the Clwydian hills, and the western part of Ruthin the meanderings of the river Clwyd, with the fertile and luxuriant meadows on its banks. ..... The agricultural produce is equally rich and abundant, yielding fine crops of wheat, barley, oats, potatoes, and turnips, together with grass and hay."

Ruthin Castle, a baronial castle ordered to be built by Edward I, around 1277, was largely constructed in 1282. It consisted of two wards and five round towers originally guarding the inner ward. All that remains are three towers and the ruined double-towered gatehouse.
According to local history, the lordship of Dyffryn Clwyd was given to the Grey family in 1282 after the defeat of Llywelyn effectively ending the principality of North Wales. Up to 1400 the history of the castle had little to note.

In the early 15th century the castle was held by Lord Grey, a gentleman who had made an enemy of one Owain Glyndwr by trying to acquire the Dee estates of the Welshman. When Glyndwr was ready to launch his bid for an independent Wales, Ruthin and Lord Grey became the first target. The attack surprised all and Ruthin was ravaged and burnt. The Castle managed to hold out, but the Welsh rebel was not to be done out of his vengeance. Some two years later he defeated and English force at Vyrnwy and captured Lord Gray, imprisoning him at Dolbadarn Castle and releasing him on payment of a ransom of 10,000 marks.
The Civil War saw Ruthin Castle resisting attack by Parliamentary forces, who returned to besiege it two years later in 1646 when the Royalist garrison surrendered to Major-General Mytton and the castle was destroyed by order of Parliament. Ruthin Castle is now a luxury hotel.

Some other areas of note in Ruthin are:

Pendref Chapel. Situated at the upper end of Well Street (originally named Welsh Street) stands the town's oldest chapel, Pendref built in 1827. It is of particular architectural interest. in The Buildings of Clwyd by Edward Hubbard it is described as comprising an elegant ashlar front gently embayed; of three bays, the central one pedimented and all on the curve; balustrading, two storeys of round-headed windows and a Tuscan porch. Adjoining Pendref is No 6 Well Street (originally known as Welsh Street), where the Welsh national anthem was first printed.
One of the town's impressive medieval buildings, the old courthouse, or manor courthouse, was the site of the principal court of the Lordship of Dyffryn Clwyd. Built in the early years of the fourteenth century with cells for prisoners in the basement area, the remains of the scaffold can still be seen projecting from the eaves. The last execution to take place there was probably that of a Franciscan friar, Fr Charles Mahoney, on 12 August 1679.

On the west side of the square is Maen Huail on which, according to legend, Huail, son of Caw and brother of Gildas the historian, was beheaded for crossing King Arthur in love.

St Peter's Church dates from the 13th and 14th centuries and has a magnificent oak paneled roof given, according to legend, by Henry VII. The attractive gates leading to the south porch of St Peter's parish church were made in 1727 by the renowned craftsmen and blacksmiths Robert and John Davies of Bersham. Consisting of a pair of main gates between elaborate piers, with smaller side gates, the whole topped by much decorative scrollwork, they were restored in 1928. The main gates at Castell y Waen (Chirk Castle) are also by the Davies Brothers.

The Myddelton Arms, of Dutch design and dating from the mid-16th century, has a remarkable roof with an unusual arrangement of windows known locally as the 'eyes of Ruthin'. It was build by Sir Richard Cough in the late 16th century. Adjacent is the Castle Hotel, formerly the White Lion, an elegant Georgian building which once had a cock-pit at the rear.

Nantclwyd House in Castle Street is a Grade I listed timber-framed mansion and the oldest building in Ruthin dating from 1314. It is said to be one of the two buildings to survive the burning of the town by Owain Glyndwr. The building is currently being restored.
County Hall in Record Street, now the town library, was designed by Joseph Turner, architect and one-time County Surveyor of Denbighshire. Built between 1785 and 1790 to house the records of the Court of Great Sessions and Quarter Sessions, the original scheme was amended to include a courtroom. Together with another Turner design, the old county gaol, the building established Ruthin's position as the principal county town of Denbighshire.

Old County Gaol, Clwyd Street. Built in 1775 to the designs of J Turner of Chester, as a model prison of that period to serve Denbighshire. Last execution was held in 1903, closed in 1916.

Wynnstay Arms, Well Street. A 16th century half timbered old coaching inn. Formerly the Cross Foxes referred to by George Borrow in 'Wild Wales'.

Visit Denbigh Castle some 8 miles from Ruthin or Valle Crucis Abbey near Llangollen, some 14 miles from Ruthin.


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