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Welsh: Rhuthun
The Old Court House Ruthin Wales.jpg
The Old Court House built in 1401
Ruthin is located in Denbighshire
 Ruthin shown within Denbighshire
Population 5,218 (2001)
OS grid reference SJ127854
Community Ruthin
Principal area Denbighshire
Ceremonial county Clwyd
Country Wales
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town RUTHIN
Postcode district LL15
Dialling code 01824
Police North Wales
Fire North Wales
Ambulance Welsh
EU Parliament Wales
UK Parliament Clwyd West
Welsh Assembly Clwyd West
List of places

Coordinates: 53°06′58″N 3°18′22″W / 53.116°N 3.306°W / 53.116; -3.306

Ruthin (/ˈrɪθɪn/ RITH-in; Welsh: Rhuthun) is the county town of Denbighshire in north Wales. Located around a hill in the southern part of the Vale of Clwyd - the older part of the town, the castle and Saint Peter's Square are located on top of the hill, while many newer parts of the town are on the floodplain of the River Clwyd (which became apparent on several occasions in the late 1990s—new flood control works costing £3 million were inaugurated in autumn 2003).[1] Ruthin also has villages on the outskirts of the town such as Pwllglas and Rhewl.

The name 'Ruthin' comes from the Welsh words rhudd (red) and din (fort), and refers to the colour of the new red sandstone which forms the geologic basis of the area,[2] and from which the castle was constructed in 1277-1284. The original name of Rhuthin was 'Castell Coch yng Ngwern-fôr' (red castle in the sea-swamps). The town developed around the castle and the nearby mill. Maen Huail is a registered ancient monument attributed to the brother of Gildas and King Arthur and is located outside Barclays Bank (formerly Exmewe House), on St Peter's Square.


The population at the 2001 Census was 5,218[3] of whom 47% were male and 53% female. The average age of the population was 43.0 years and the population is 98.2% "white". According to the 2011 census 68% were born in Wales, with 25% being born across the border in England. Welsh language speakers account for 42% of the town's population.

North Wales Police classify Ruthin as having an "average" level of crime for their area, which itself has one of the lowest crime rates in the United Kingdom.[4]

Type of crime 2008 crime rate (per 1000 inhabitants) 2008 average actual number of crimes/month 2007 crime rate (per 1000 inhabitants) 2007 average actual number of crimes/month
Burglary 0.3 1.7 0.4 2
Robbery 0 0 0.1 0.3
Vehicle crime 0.1 0.7 0.4 2.0
Violence 1.6 8.3 1.6 8.7
Anti-social behaviour 1.6 8.7 1.1 5.7


Clock tower on St Peter's Square. In the background are the Myddleton Arms pub, Castle Hotel, and HSBC bank
Exmewe Hall, on St Peter's Square, is now Barclays Bank. Despite appearances, it was reconstructed entirely in the 20th century from modern materials
The old Gaol is now a museum. This is a view of the courtyard.
The town War Memorial
Denbighshire County Council built a new headquarters building in 2004-05

There is evidence of Celtic and later Roman settlements in the area. However, little is known of the history of the town before construction of Ruthin Castle started in 1277 by Dafydd, the brother of prince Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, but he forfeited the castle when he rebelled against King Edward I with his brother; Edward's queen, Eleanor, was in residence in 1281. The Marcher Lord, Reginald de Grey, Justiciar of Chester, was given the Cantref (an administrative district) of Deffrencloyt (= Dyffryn Clwyd, the Welsh for Vale of Clwyd), and his family ran the area for the next 226 years. The third Baron de Grey's land dispute with Owain Glyndŵr triggered Glyndŵr's rebellion against King Henry IV which began on 16 September 1400, when Glyndŵr burned Ruthin to the ground, reputedly leaving only the castle and a few other buildings standing.[5]

The Lord de Grey established a Collegiate Church in 1310. Now, the Collegiate and Parish Church of St Peter, it dominates the Ruthin skyline. The double naved church boasts two medieval carved roofs. The church is known for its musical tradition, it has a large choir of children and adults and a four manual Wadsworth-Willis Organ. Behind the church can be seen the old college buildings, school and Christ's hospital.

A Ruthin native, Sir Thomas Exmewe was Lord Mayor of the City of London in 1517-18.

The half-timbered Old Court House (built in 1401), now a branch of the NatWest Bank, features the remains of a gibbet last used to execute a Franciscan priest, Charles Meehan, also known as Mahoney. He was shipwrecked on the Welsh coast when Catholicism was equated with treason — Meehan was hanged, drawn, and quartered in 1679.[6] He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1987 as one of the Eighty-five martyrs of England and Wales.

During the English Civil War the castle survived an eleven-week siege, after which it was demolished by order of Parliament. The castle was rebuilt in the 19th century as a country house, and is now a luxury hotel, the Ruthin Castle Hotel.

From 1826 until 1921 the castle was the home of the Cornwallis-West family, members of Victorian and Edwardian high society.

In its 18th century heyday as a town on drovers' routes from Wales into England, Ruthin was reputed to have "a pub for every week of the year". By 2007, however, there are only eleven pubs in the town.

The first copies of the Welsh national anthem, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, were printed in what is now the Siop Nain tea and gift shop on Well Street.

In 1863 the Denbigh, Ruthin and Corwen Railway, which linked in Denbigh with the Vale of Clwyd Railway (subsequently part of the London and North Western Railway, the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, and British Rail) reached the town. The route ran from Rhyl on the north coast, through Denbigh and Ruthin to Corwen. Thereafter the line joined a route from Ruabon through Llangollen, Corwen and Bala to Barmouth. The railway and Ruthin railway station closed in 1963 as part of the Beeching Axe. The site of the town's railway station is now occupied by a large road roundabout (Brieg Roundabout) and the Ruthin Craft Centre which originally opened in 1982 but was rebuilt and reopened in 2008 [1].

Sir Henry Haydn Jones MP (1863–1950) politician, slate quarry owner, and owner of the Talyllyn Railway was brought up in the town. He is immortalised for children as Sir Handel, owner of the Skarloey Railway in Rev. W. Awdry's Railway Series.

On 6 June 1947 Władysław Raczkiewicz, the first president of the Polish government in exile, died at Ruthin Castle.[7] He was buried in the Polish Cemetery in Newark, Nottinghamshire.

Ruthin hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1868 and 1973. The Urdd National Eisteddfod visited Ruthin in 1992 and 2006.[8]


The town's principal school is Ysgol Brynhyfryd (Brynhyfryd School), a comprehensive school for 11-18 year olds. It was founded in 1898 as Ruthin County School for Girls (the town's boys travelling five miles by train to Denbigh High School, and vice versa). The school went co-educational with feeder junior schools up to around six miles away in 1938. The school underwent building work in the 1950s, early 1970s (when the number of pupils increased from 700 to 1000 in a few years, when the minimum school leaving age was raised from 15 to 16), and 2001-2. The school's sports facilities, including the swimming pool are used as the town's Leisure Centre, and it also features a theatre and arts complex, Theatr John Ambrose, named after the late headmaster of the school in the 1980s and 1990s, which was opened by the actor Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill, etc.) a former pupil of Ysgol Pentrecelyn and Ysgol Maes Garmon in Mold, but brought up in Ruthin.

In 1574 Dr Gabriel Goodman re-founded Ruthin School which had been originally founded in 1284 and is one of the oldest private schools in the United Kingdom. In 1590, Goodman established Christ's Hospital for 12 poor persons around St. Peter's Church on the square, and was Dean of Westminster for 40 years (1561–1601). Ruthin School is a co-educational boarding and day school, with 227 pupils overall, 145 boarders and 82 day students (2014).[9] In September 2013, the school bought Ye Old Anchor, after its closure as a hotel in November 2012. The hotel will be transformed into a new boarding house, providing accommodation for 30 upper sixth form students.[10]


The Ruthin railway line and station were closed in the 1960s. Prior to the closure, Ruthin was connected by rail to Denbigh and Rhyl to the north, and Corwen in the south.

Nowadays, the town has a good bus service. The X50 and X5 services provide two buses per hour to Denbigh, with hourly buses continuing to Rhyl. There is an hourly service (X50) to Wrexham. Service X5 continues roughly hourly southbound to Corwen, with connections for Dolgellau and Llangollen. The Ruthin Fflecsi (numbers 70 and 77) bus service links Ruthin with the surrounding villages of Cyffylliog, Clocaenog, Bontuchel, Efenechtyd, Betws Gwerfil Goch, Melin-y-Wig, Llanelidan and Clawdd-Newydd to the west and southwest. A roughly hourly service (numbers 1 and 2) runs eastwards to Mold, and there are two buses per day (Monday - Friday) directly to Chester (service X1). Ruthin is large enough to merit its own town service, number 73. Service 76 runs to Denbigh via the villages of Llanbedr Dyffryn Clwyd, Llangynhafal and Llangwyfan, and continues to Pentrecelyn, south of Ruthin. All of the above services run Monday - Saturday only. On Sundays, there is a roughly two-hourly service to Denbigh on service X50 only.

Ruthin is unusual in that all its bus services are operated by independent companies. All services except the 76 are operated by GHA Coaches, originally based in nearby Betws Gwerfil Goch. Service 76 is operated by the smaller firm of M&H Coaches.


The football team is Ruthin Town F.C.

The rugby team is Ruthin/Rhuthun R.F.C - (Teams: Minis, Youth, 3rd XV, 2nd XV, 1st XV & Women's XV [2] [3])

The 17th century Crown House, on Well Street, houses the head office of The Broadcasting Company, Europe's largest radio sports agency.[11]

On 13 June 1981 Ruthin hosted the Annual General Meeting of the International Football Association Board, the body which determines the laws of football.[12]

Twin Town[edit]

Ruthin is twinned with Brieg, Brittany.[13]


Ruthin Gaol[edit]

Main article: Ruthin Gaol
Carchar Rhuthun Ruthin Gaol Grade 2 Star.JPG

Ruthin Gaol ceased to be a prison in 1916 when the prisoners and guards were transferred to Shrewsbury. The County Council bought the buildings in 1926 and used part of them for offices, the county archives, and the town library. During the Second World War the prison buildings were used as a munitions factory, before being handed back to the County Council, when it was the headquarters of the Denbighshire Library Service. In 2004 the Gaol was extensively renovated and reopened as a museum.[14]

The first House of Correction, or Bridewell, was built at the bottom of Clwyd Street, next to the river, in 1654, to replace the Old Court House, where able-bodied idlers and the unemployed were sent to work. Following John Howard's investigations into prison conditions the Denbighshire justices resolved to build a new model prison in Ruthin on the site of the old Bridewell. Work began in January 1775. In 1802 the prison had four cells for prisoners and nine rooms for debtors. By 1837 it could hold 37 inmates. The Prisons Act of 1865 set new standards for the design of prisons — as the Ruthin County Gaol did not meet the standards plans were drawn up for a new four-storey wing, and the new prison accommodating up to 100 prisoners, in the style of London's Pentonville Prison was built at a cost of £12,000. On 1 April 1878 the Ruthin County Gaol became HM Prison Ruthin, covering the counties of Denbighshire, Flintshire, and Merionethshire. As far as is known, only one person was ever executed in the prison, William Hughes of Denbigh, aged 42, who was hanged on 17 February 1903 for the murder of his wife, his plea of insanity having failed. Another colourful prison personality was John Jones, known as Coch Bach y Bala – who was a kleptomaniac and poacher who had spent more than half his 60 years in all the prisons of north Wales and many in England; he twice escaped from Ruthin Gaol, first on 30 November 1879 when he walked out of prison with three others while the staff were having supper — a £5 reward was offered for his capture, which happened the following 3 January. On 30 September 1913 he tunnelled out of his cell and using a rope made out of his bedding he climbed over the roof of the chapel and kitchen and got over the wall; after seven days living rough on the Nantclwyd Estate several miles away, Jones was shot in the leg by one of his pursuers, 19 year old Reginald Jones-Bateman. Jones died of shock and blood loss, while Jones-Bateman was charged with manslaughter, though the charges were subsequently dropped.

Most Haunted: Midsummer Murders filmed the series' 5th episode in Ruthin in which the team investigated a Victorian Era murder. Some of the places the episode was filmed in were the Old Gaol and the town library.

The Craft Centre[edit]

Main article: Ruthin Craft Centre

The Craft Centre had 10 studios occupied by craftsmen who could be observed by tourists working at glass blowing, ceramic manufacture, painting, furniture restoration, etc. The original Craft Centre was demolished early in 2007, and a new Craft Centre opened in July 2008 in a £4.3 million scheme which contains six craft workshops, larger galleries and an expanded craft retail gallery, two residency studios, an education space and a tourist information centre, as well as a restaurant.[15][16]

Nantclwyd y Dre[edit]

Nantclwyd y Dre looking North on Castle Street
Main article: Nantclwyd y Dre

Nantclwyd y Dre (previously known as Tŷ Nantclwyd), in Castle Street, was built about 1435 by a local merchant Gronw ap Madoc, and is believed to be the oldest surviving town house in Wales. The building was sold to the county council in 1982, restored from 2004, and opened to the public in 2007. It contains seven rooms which have been restored to represent various periods in the building's history, visitors can also observe a colony of Lesser horseshoe bats in the attic rooms.[17]

Behind the house are two gardens, the 13th century inner garden and the outer Lord's Garden, itself believed to have been part of a 13th-century developed castle garden.[18] Restored in the 18th century, Lord's Garden is now itself Grade II listed. In December 2013, the council successfully applied for a grant of £177,600 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, which will see Lord's Garden restored and opened to the public by 2015.[19][20]

Notable people[edit]

See Category:People from Ruthin


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ruthin flood defence plan unveiled". BBC Online. 2001-11-07. Retrieved 2007-06-08. 
  2. ^ Thomas Nicholas (1991-01-01). Annals and Antiquities of the Counties and County Families of Wales. ISBN 9780806313146. Retrieved 2007-10-08. 
  3. ^ "2001 Census: Ruthin". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 2008-06-14. 
  4. ^ North Wales Police: Ruthin crime levels and statistics
  5. ^ Northall, John. "Ruthin castle". Retrieved 2007-06-08. 
  6. ^ Welsh European Funding Office. "Enjoy Mediaeval Denbighshire - Ruthin". Retrieved 2007-06-08. 
  7. ^ Beamish, MC, MP, Major Tufton (14 June 1947). "Wladyslaw Raczkiewicz : President of Poland". "The Tablet" archive. The Tablet. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  8. ^ "Annual Urdd youth festival begins". BBC News. 29 May 2006. Retrieved 6 October 2012. "This year the eisteddfod returns to the site of the Bro Glyndwr Eisteddfod of 1992." 
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Williamson, David (23 August 2006). "From drugs den to radio hot spot". Western Mail ( Retrieved 11 November 2008. 
  12. ^ "1981 IFAB AGM programme" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-11-19. 
  13. ^ "Rhuthun - Briec twin towns". Retrieved 2007-08-14. 
  14. ^ Lewis, Alys (8 March 2010). "Ruthin Gaol". BBC News. 
  15. ^ "£3.1m for craft centre's renewal". BBC North East Wales news (BBC). 2005-12-10. Retrieved 2006-11-27. 
  16. ^ "Canolfan Grefft Rhuthun / Ruthin Craft Centre". Retrieved 2008-09-17. 
  17. ^ "Nantclwyd y Dre". Denbighshire Council. Retrieved 26 December 2013. 
  18. ^ "The Lord’s Garden, Nantclwyd y Dre, Ruthin". Clywd Powys Archeological Preservation Trust. Retrieved 26 December 2013. 
  19. ^ "Christmas comes early for Lord’s Garden, Ruthin". Heritage Lottery Fund. 23 December 2013. Retrieved 26 December 2013. 
  20. ^ "'Secret' garden in Denbighshire to be opened to public". BBC Wales. 23 December 2013. Retrieved 26 December 2013. 

External links[edit]