Places to go - Ruthin
Ruthin lies at the end of the Vale of Clwyd in Denbighshire, North Wales. Ruthin is an attractive market town with a population of about five thousand. It has good examples of Elizabethan, Georgian and Queen Anne styles of architecture, typical of North Wales. There are also Celtic and Roman remains to be found.
Spelt Rhuthun in Welsh, 'Rhudd' means red and 'din' means a city. This reflects the large amount of red sandstone that Ruthin is built upon.
The town of Ruthin was built on a red sandstone hill as a strategic lookout over the River Clwyd. A town which has over seven hundred years of recorded history, whose streets have been trodden by kings, queens, princes and travellers; its past suffered plague, battle and siege; its buildings reflect the best of architectural styles making the town an outstanding Conservation Area worthy of preservation.
The ancient remains of its castle are some of the oldest in Wales - commenced in 1277 by order of Edward 1 - years before the great fortresses of Conwy and Caernarfon.
Llywelyn ap Gruffydd's brother Dafydd started a castle at Ruthin but forfeited it when he rebelled with his brother. Edward I's queen, Eleanor, was in residence in 1281 so it must have been habitable by then. Reginald de Grey, Justiciar of Chester and a marcher lord, was entrusted with the defence of Ruthin in 1277 and he completed the castle in 1284.
Some other areas of note in Ruthin are:
- 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 renowned craftsmen and blacksmiths Robert and John Davies of Bersham made the attractive gates leading to the south porch of St Peter’s parish church in 1727. 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 that once had a cockpit 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.
- Joseph Turner, architect and one-time County Surveyor of Denbighshire, designed County Hall in Record Street, now the town library. 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 Rhuthun'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, coaching inn. Formerly the Cross Foxes referred to by George Borrow in 'Wild Wales'.
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