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A Real Gem of a Place to Visit

It’s all been happening for Ruthin during the last few days. First of all, the BBC magazine has put Ruthin on the map— an alternative map for 2012 visitors! As this is a big year for tourism in the UK (with the Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee), the magazine asked people born outside the country to identify lovely places to visit which are a bit more unusual—and off the beaten track. Ruthin was highlighted, with tourists from the United States and Australia having amazing experiences during their visits here. This publicity came just after the Ruthin Castle announced a £1.5m upgrade of this historic building. By June this year, the hotel will be turned into a 60 bedroom four-star hotel with a spa and wellness centre. The original matte and bailey castle was built in 1277 for Edward I of England. Much of the stonework was removed after the siege in the 17th century Civil War. However, the splendid ruins of the old castle can still be seen in the grounds, includsing the legendary whipping and drowning pits, as well as the dungeons. During the 19th century when the imposing red sandstone castle was built, the owners, the Cornwallis West family, hosted many historic high society figures. including Bertie, Prince of Wales. Then, on Tuesday, there was the re-opening of The Castle Hotel. Wetherspoon’s has spent over £2m on the refurbishment of this historic building to create a 17 bedroom hotel. Known as “The Castle Hotel” for the last 100 years, which can cause a bit of confusion for visitors as there are two hotels in Ruthin with “castle” in their name, it was a coaching inn during the 18th century when it was known as the White Lion. A waIk inside the building reveaIs many nooks and crannies where you can eat and drink. There a re numerous photographs and information boards displaying fascinating facts about the history of the town and other snippets of interest. Wetherspoon’s is also keen to support IocaI
artists and commissioned the local Ann Bridges to create two impressive coat of arms using painstaking methods. The coal of arms is that of Owain Glyndŵr, the last native Welshman to hold the title of the Prince of Wales. He attacked and [allegedly] burnt Ruthin on September 18th, 1400, the start of the last War of Independence. Residents and visitors to Ruthin will soon be able to linger longer in the town, as not only are there the various attractions, such as the Old Gaol, Nantclwyd y Dre and the Craft Centre to visit, but  “Royalty and Rogues” guided town walks are to stark in April. The tour, which starts from the Craft Centre, is a gentle stroll which takes approximately 90 minutes. Along the route you will be able to discover the fascinating stories of people with royal connections and others who found themselves in trouble with the law! During the months of July and August, these will be held every Wednesday afternoon starting at 2.15pm from the Craft Centre, operated by North Wales Tour Guides’ Association as part of the themed “Tales with Trails” in various towns throughout North Wales. Of course there is always the opportunity for you to do you own “slow walk” using the Civic Association’s excellent publication which can be fount on the association’s website ruthincivic.org and car also be picked up in some locations, such as Nantclwyd y Dre, in the town.
In March 2012, Heather Williams records news celebrating our two “Castle” hotels