The Old Court House built in 1401
Ruthin shown within Denbighshire
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|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
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|Welsh Assembly||Clwyd West|
Ruthin (i// 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). 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, and from which the castle was constructed in 1277–84. The original name of Ruthin 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.
- 1 Demographics
- 2 History
- 3 Education
- 4 Transport
- 5 Sport
- 6 Tourism
- 7 Listed buildings
- 8 Notable people
- 9 Geography
- 10 Twin Town
- 11 Crime rate
- 12 See also
- 13 References
- 14 External links
The population at the 2001 Census was 5,218 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.
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.
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.
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. 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 Public and Beer Houses records of 23 October 1891 show 31 such establishments serving a population of 3186,most of the establishments have been converted into either residences or shops. The Ruthin Union Workhouse was built in 1834 to house the poor folk of Ruthin.
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 .
The town's principal school is Ysgol Brynhyfryd (Brynhyfryd School), a comprehensive school for 11- to 18-year-olds. It was founded in c1830 as a grade II listed building as the home of local solicitor before becoming in 1898 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 listed building becoming the 6th form Centre 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). In September 2013, the school bought Ye Old Anchor, after its closure as a hotel in November 2012. The hotel is being transformed into a new boarding house, providing accommodation for 30 upper sixth form students.
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 railway at Ruthin
In 1858, it was intended to extend the Vale of Clwyd line from Denbigh to Ruthin. The new line was to run alongside the race–course in the town park (now Parc-y Dre housing) to the Station Hotel (renamed Park Place Hotel) which was to be the new railway hotel. However the West family successfully objected to the line going through the castle park towards Corwen. The route was diverted to the north of the town alongside the road to Wrexham and the Station Hotel renamed. Opposite Station Road lies Railway Terrace a row of Grade II listed buildings which were built in 1864 with clear evidence of the trains running in a cutting, just in front of the houses. The first sod was cut in September 1860 by Mrs Florence West, with inaugural service starting on St David's day 1862. To commemorate the occasion as well as many festivities a special song was composed with words by T Ab Gwilym, music by B Williams and published by Isaac Clarke (publisher). The line covered six and three quarter mile with stations at Rhewl and Llanrhaeadr.
The 17th-century Crown House, on Well Street, houses the head office of The Broadcasting Company, Europe's largest radio sports agency.
Ruthin Leisure Centre Mold Road. Swimming pool, Fitness Suite.  Telephone 01824 703880
Llanfrwog Community Centre Mrwog Street.Tennis, Golf driving range, Bowls, Cafe. Telephone 01824 702885 
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.
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.
The 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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
This is Ruthin's main park area, which includes a children's play area, a lake, walks and picnic area. A skate park was built in 2007 and a zip wire and trim trail added later. The River Clwyd runs through the park.
According to the historian Peter Smith, 'Until the 18th century most towns in Wales had many black-and-white houses (such as Tŷ Nantclwyd y Dre). Ruthin is the only example we have left. It should be carefully conserved, as the last memory we have of these towns'. Seven Eyes is a Grade II* listed building of some importance; it is situated in St Peter's Square.
St Peter's Square
- St Peter's Church
- The Myddleton Arms
The Myddleton Arms is also known as the Seven Eyes. It is said to have been built in the 14th century. The Dutch style design, long, steeped roof is attributed to Sir Richard Clough, an Elizabethan merchant. It has four tiers of dormer windows, each at a different elevation, known locally as the seven eyes of Ruthin. The property was acquired in 1595 by Sir Hugh Myddleton who provided London with it first fresh water supply. The view of The Myddleton on the square is, in fact, the rear of the building. The front of the building looked out over the Clwydian hills.
- HSBC Bank
Formerly a confectionery and bakery shop rented by Mr Thomas Trehearne, the property was owned by the Castle estate. The property also served as a Chemist's shop, and later Dick's boot store. On 1 May 1898 Mr Harris Jones took the lease of the property for 21 years as a draper, hosier, glover and dressmaker, he also sold oilcloths, linoleum and other floor coverings. The shop and house were put up for sale in the 1913 by the castle estate along with the Castle Hotel and the Myddleton Arms, which were purchased by Mr William Owen. His lease expired in 1919 with Mr Jones transferring to what is now Gayla House, where he converted the ground floor from residential to retail premises in 1923. The premises are now owned by HSBC Bank.
- Exmewe House
Formerly the Beehive, which served for 75 years as general drapery and millinery shop. The exact date of the building is not known, but remains of timber framing with wattle and daub indicate that the building is very old. An advertisement claimed the building to be constructed prior to 1397. The main section of the building was demolished to make way for the bank. Ruthin Court Rolls refer to a man named Telemann in Ruthin and to a house "in the high St". The rolls record that, in 1397, Howell de Rowell passed it to John Le Sergant. Little is known of the family - possibly a retainer of Edward 1st or Reginald de Grey, probably of Norman French descent. On 24 February, Sergant surrendered tenancy to his daughter Sibilia. The property passed to the Exmewe family by the marriage of Sibilia to Richard Exmewe, their son Thomas was Lord Mayor of London in 1517. Little is known of Exmewe family. Thomas moved to London, deciding to sell his Ruthin Estate of Exmewe House
He sold the house to fellow mercer, Edward Goodman. Exmewe House or Nant Clwyd-y-Dre could have been the birthplace of Gabriel Goodman, as the family had connections with both properties.
Details of the next 200 years are not clear: it became the King's Arms in the occupation of John Price. Then it became the Queen's Arms (during the reign of Queen Anne 1702-1714). The property was purchased for £300 on 5 November 1718 by Robert Myddleton of Chirk.
During the 19th century, the property was used as a chemist's until 1913. The property was sold as part of the Castle Estate sales in 1913/1919 for £1275 to Mr Lecomber, who, in turn, sold it to Barclays Bank, who modernised it to what is visual today
- The Post Office
Now trading as the Celtic Hair Studio at 2 Well Street. Originally a public house, reputedly built in 1401, possibly the oldest pub in Ruthin. Lewis Jones, in his 1884 "Handbook For Ruthin and the Vicinity", states that the old property, formerly the "Ruth Inn", was adapted to the business of a post office about 25 years previously. It ceased trading in 1773. In 1850, the building was transformed into a draper's, later becoming the town post office until 1904
The site of the present post office was possibly a medieval Carmelite priory of White Friars said to be founded and built by Reginald de Grey and partly destroyed by the Reformation. De Grey also provided a large piece of land close to the castle known as Whitefriars. During the 1860s and 70's the site housed The Queen's Head public house and a horse feed chandler; both buildings were destroyed by the 1904 fire when the new post office was built in 1906.
Located at 33, 35 & 37 Clwyd Street opposite the gaol. Now a florist originally the Red Lion public house. In 1824 the hangman, Sam Burrows, was staying at the Red Lion on the night before the execution of John Connor, a highway robber. He gave a detailed demonstration of how he actually hanged a man, unfortunately the stool was accidentally kicked away and Burrows almost hanged himself. The public house ceased trading in 1905.
- The Royal Oak
Now flats, the Royal Oak is one of the finest buildings in Ruthin, having three cruck frames, it is a Grade II* listed building.
All buildings on Castle Street are listed by Cadw. These are the earliest settlements outside the walls of the castle. Some have burgage plots at the back, established by de Grey in 1283. The plots and linear have barely changed since their foundation.
Whilst residential properties were at the castle end of the street, commercial properties were at the end close to St peters Square. The one exception was the pub "Yr Iwerddon" at Number 15, the house retains the name which refers to its connection with Irish drovers who stayed there when attending markets and fairs
Other establishments of interest include Number 1, now Boots formerly "Raven Inn" which in 1560 may have been the birthplace of Bishop Richard Parry, pupil and master (1584) of Ruthin School. He was involved with dean Gabriel Goodman and others in translating the Bible and prayer book into Welsh. The main contributor was Bishop William Morgan but Parry's revision in 1620 became the accepted authorised version.
The Ruthin Royal Bowling Green used the Raven as their headquarters until the Cornwallis-West’s came to live in Ruthin Castle. The club met at the Raven for its annual and quarterly meetings. When competitions took place the staff of the Raven would take "Cwrw Da" (good beer) to the players. With the arrival of the West’s the bowling green which was inside the curtilage of the castle forced the club to find an alternative green. One of the options they accepted was the rear of no 8 Castle street "Gorphwysfa" then called the "Constitutional Club", later renamed the Conservative Club.
- Number 2 The Wine Vaults with its 6 column Tuscan colonnade was originally known as the Black Horse in the 1820s which is verified by the Welsh office survey.
- Number 7 Sir John Trevor House. This famous house has served as Totty's the Lawyers in the 1700 then an antique shop, tea shop and finally a private residence also offering bed and breakfast accommodation Sir John Trevor was speaker of the House of Commons from 1690 to 1695 when he was dismissed for embezzlement. He was the only speaker to be forced to resign until 19 May 2009 when the then speaker Michael Martin was forced to resign.
- "Gorphwysfa" This property was part of the Castle estate until sold off by the Castle owners in 1919.
The Rifle Volunteer Corps founded in 1859 stored their armoury at this house until the drill hall was built in Borthyn in 1885. As mentioned above this property became the Conservative Club in November 1885.
- Number 9 When known as "Corwen" this property was the offices of Phillips the Attorney's, now a private residence
- 11 Ardwyn, Private residence of three storeys former office of attorney company Smarts.
- Number 12 Plas-yn-Dre. The exact date of this house is unknown, it was however rebuilt in 1823 which is depicted by a stone above the front door. These premises housed the North and South Wales Bank L G Thomas prime mover of founding the Presbyterian Church in Wynnstay Road in 1886 was bank manager and lived here.
- Number 16 and 18 wood-framed buildings with 19th-century frontage these properties also formed part of the castle estate sales of 1913 and 1919. These properties show what is probably the first use of stucco in Ruthin.
- The Old County Hall now Ruthin Library
This is a Grade II Listed Building, housed in Record Street and originally named Stryd y Chwain (Welsh: Flea St) due to its very low standard of living) The inferior housing was demolished to make way for the county court and much grander houses between 1785 and 1788. The present day name reflects the storing of records from the assizes and shire hall. In 1860 it became the county court with the portico added at the same time. It housed the records of, and served as an assize court until the 1970s. The library opened in the early 1990s.
- Police Station
A Grade II listed building. prior to the building of the present day police station the original police station was housed in Ruthin Gaol. This building was built in 1890 as it gave convenient access to the courts. The station contains four cells which are no longer used with a much reduced number of police officers now present.
- Castle Mews Grade II listed building
Now a shopping precinct this building dates back to the 15th century with examples of wattle and daub just inside the building on the right hand side. Remodelled in the early C19 when it became the Cross Key's Coaching Inn serving the Ruthin to Chester route with a change of horses in Mold. It later became a temperance commercial hotel and was home to one of the three Ruthin Friendly Societies who were groups of male workers of similar background who contributed small amounts of money ion a weekly basis for insurance against injury and old age. At a later date it was the offices of Ruthin Rural District Council
- Numbers 10+ 12 Manor House Grade II listed building
Late C 18th family town house which retained it late Georgian character until developed into today’s boutique hotel and art gallery . Cellars said to be constructed of stone from Ruthin Castle It has had many uses as a boarding house for Ruthin School until 1893, a doctors home, as a family home, its most famous resident was Cynthia Lennon wife of late Beatle John Lennon, and their son Julian who attended Ruthin School, a restaurant from the 1930s and hotel. Today’s hotel architecture and art very much in mind, having won several awards
- The Wynnstay Hotel And Wayfarer Wool Shop
These two now separate building were once connected by an adjoining archway through which the coach and horses entered to the rear of the property for the horses to be stabled. The present Wayfarers shop is shown in the title deeds as an outbuilding consisting of "an old saddle room, l with a room over and Gentleman’s Convenience".
The Wynnstay Hotel, now a private house, is first recorded in the records as being established in 1549 and was known for many years as the Cross Foxes, which was the heraldic arms of the Wynnstay family. The family originated from Wrexham and could boast that they could travel from Chester to the Llŷn Peninsula without once leaving their land. It was an important hostelry as it was the coaching inn for Ruthin to Denbigh travel. It served the Ruthin, Mold and Chester Royal Mail service. The pub in its heyday had a bowling green and tennis courts both of which no longer exist, and also had a central porch which was demolished in 1969.
- Plas Coch (also known as the Conservative Club)
Grade II Listed building is of medieval origin and is a former C17 large town house. It was ebuilt in 1613 using red sandstone from the castle and became home to the Constable of the castle. The building is two storey with attics and has four large window on each floor. In 1963 it became a banqueting hall owned by Rees Jones who used to trade at the village hall in Llanfair. It became the Conservative Club in 1977 and been slightly altered, now offering all round facilities for functions.
Other parts of the town
- The Spread Eagle
The Spread Eagle is the coat-of-arms of the Goodwin family. Formerly an Inn, records show it traded from 1792 until it ceased trading in 1915. Following that period it became a temperance hotel then a retail shop.
Rose Cottage is a privately owned residence which is a grade 2* listed building, located on the corner of Rhos Street and Haulfryn. It is listed as 'exceptional survival of a medieval cruck-framed hall-house of relatively low status, retaining its plan-form, character and detail'.
Situated on the Corwen Road just passed Ruthin Castle Scott house was built 1933 to accommodate the nursing staff of Duff House Sanatorium,which acquired Ruthin Castle and 475 acres of land in order to open their private clinic in April 1923. The grade II listed building is set landscaped grounds the building was later divided into private residential flats.
- Hafina Clwyd, journalist, mayor of Ruthin (2008-9) and town councillor (1999-2011)
- Doug Dailey MBE, British Cyclist
- Seren Gibson, glamour model, attended Ysgol Brynhyfryd
- Scarlets rugby union centre Rob Higgitt is a former resident
- Actors Rhys Ifans and his brother Llŷr Ifans come from Ruthin
- Eric Jones, climber and BASE jumper, was raised on a farm near Ruthin
- Sir Henry Haydn Jones MP (1863–1950) politician, slate quarry owner, and owner of the Talyllyn Railway was brought up in the town
- Singer Julian Lennon attended Ruthin School
- Eifion Lewis-Roberts, rugby union player for Ruthin who now lives in Llanbedr-Dyffryn-Clwyd
- Robin Llwyd ab Owain, poet and national chair winner, has lived in Ruthin since 1979
- Rhys Meirion the ENO opera singer
- Cynthia Lennon, first wife of John Lennon settled in Ruthin
- Formula One racing driver Tom Pryce was born and raised in Ruthin
- On 6 June 1947 Władysław Raczkiewicz, the first president of the Polish government in exile, died at Ruthin Castle. He was buried in the Polish Cemetery in Newark, Nottinghamshire
- Neil Taylor, professional football player, attended Ysgol Brynhyfryd
- Joe Woolford, former singer in The Voice UK in 2015, half of the duo Joe and Jake who represent UK at the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest, with the song "You're Not Alone"
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- Ruthin Town Hall
- Castle Hotel
- Isaac Clarke (publisher)
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This year the eisteddfod returns to the site of the Bro Glyndwr Eisteddfod of 1992.
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