• Lucy

Ruthin Castle (Denbighshire, Wales)

Updated: Jan 15, 2019

Ruthin Castle was constructed during the late 13th century by Dafydd ap Gruffydd, brother of Prince Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, on a red sandstone ridge overlooking the valley. The castle occupies a site that was first used as an Iron Age fort.

Dafydd ap Gruffydd was given the land in 1277 by Edward I in reward for his assistance during the invasion of North Wales. There are no records to indicate any previous castles on the site, so ap Gruffydd was likely responsible for the first documented castle structure here.

In 1282 war flared between the English and Welsh as a result of English barons seizing Welsh land, and Dafydd ap Gruffyd responded by attacking the nearby Hawarden Castle. This resulted in the conflict that finally ended Welsh monarchy and individual rule, when Dafydd succeeded his brother Llewellyn as Prince of Wales in a rebellion that was crushed by Edward I with assistance from Reginald de Grey, a notable military leader. Dafydd was captured and found guilty of high treason by Edward I and executed, being hung, drawn, and quartered in exceptionally cruel fashion.

In gratitude of his services and loyalty, Reginald de Grey was granted the Cantref (the welsh term for an administrative division of land) of Dyffryn Clwyd, which included Ruthin Castle, where his family remained until 1508.

In 1400 Reginald Grey, 3rd Baron Grey de Ruthyn, was said to have sparked the Owain Glyndwr rebellion by failing to pass a writ onto Owain from King Richard II that put him in bad favour with the king, and that Reginald ultimately intended on using as leverage to get Owain's land. This resulted in Ruthin town being burned and looted by Owain's men, and although they failed to take the castle in 1400 2 years later Reginald was successfully taken captive and ransomed for a hefty amount. Henry VII agreed to the terms of his ransom, but the family never recovered financially from this.

In 1508 the 5th Baron of Ruthin sold the castle back to the Crown. In 1632 the castle was sold to Sir Thomas Myddleton of Chirk, as it was falling into ruin and King Charles I was in need to extra revenue. In 1642 the castle was quickly repaired ahead of the Civil War and garrisoned against Cromwell's forces and in 1646 the castle withstood an 11 week siege, surrendering only when the Parliamentarians made it clear that they intended to mine to walls to break into the stronghold. As a result, in 1648 the castle was partially dismantled to prevent it being used in future, and timber and stone was removed and used in nearby buildings.

In 1826 the Myddleton family invested heavily in the site, building a new mansion within the remains of the castle, repairing the medieval castle ruins, and laying out the gardens.

In 1923 the castle became Britain's first private hospital for the investigation and treatment of obscure internal diseases but this subsequently closed in about 1950.

In the 1960s the castle was purchased and converted into a hotel. In 2004, Ruthin Castle was purchased by Anthony and Amanda Saint Claire. The Saint Claire family have since partnered with the Walshe family. In 2015 Ruthin Castle Conservation Trust was formed and became a Charitable Trust in 2016. For more information, check out the Ruthin Castle Hotel website.

Pictures taken May 2018

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