The town of Rhuddlan sits in the county of Denbighshire, North Wales. It lies on the banks of the River Clwyd to the east of Abergele, north of St Asaph and to the south of Rhyl. Rhuddlan is renowned for both its Edwardian Castle and the Church of St Mary, both of which stand on the banks of the River Clwyd. Rhuddlan Castle is one of the “Iron Ring of Castles” built by the English King Edward 1 to suppress the Welsh and never fails to impress.
From the west bank of the River Clwyd there are fine views of the castle, the river, and the old church of St Mary's. Moreover, from the west bank it is just a short walk across the bridge and up the hill into the town. At the top of the hill you have the choice of visiting St Mary's Church on your left or bearing right to visit Rhuddlan Castle.
Alternatively bear straight ahead along Rhuddlan High Street; the town of Rhuddlan was laid out at the same time as the castle and 21st century visitors can walk streets that echo this original 13th century plan.
Castles and Forts
Rhuddlan Castle was built between the years of 1277 and 1282 on a site just northwest of an existing Norman motte and bailey castle (Twthill). The building work was originally under the control of a Master Bertram but later came under the control of Master James of St George, renowned for his later work on Edward's castles at Beaumaris, Harlech, Caernarfon, and Conwy. Impressive as the Castle is, I find Edward's determination to conquer all of Britain at any cost even more so. The castle was to be built at Rhuddlan, but the river Clwyd was not navigable for the three miles from the Irish Sea to Rhuddlan and thus did not conform to Edward's strategic plans to be able to reinforce all his fortresses by sea. No problem! Well not to a mediaeval monarch. Edward assembled 1800 ditchers from the Fenlands of England and by straightening and dredging they canalized the River Clwyd from the Irish Sea to Rhuddlan Castle.
In Rhuddlan high street there is a carved stone plaque on the gable wall of the Parliament Building that commemorates the "Statute of Wales,” some times known as the "Statute of Rhuddlan.”
The plaque reads 'This Fragment is the remains of the building where Edward I held his Parliament A.D. 1283 in which was passed the Statute of Rhuddlan securing to the Principality of Wales its judicial rights and independence."
The statute was issued by Edward to regulate Welsh affairs and is said by some to be the "first colonial constitution" and by others as a charter protecting the rights and privileges of the Welsh.
Tradition states that it was in Rhuddlan that King Edward, on hearing of the birth of his son at Caernarfon, declared the child "Prince of Wales", thus setting a tradition with the British monarchy that continues to this day.
Walks, Cycle Trails and Other Activities
Walkers will appreciate the landscape around Rhuddlan as it is relatively flat, well compared to the rest of Wales. There are many walks criss-crossing the landscape and the North Wales Path meanders through the town. The Clwydian Way can also be accessed from Rhuddlan.
St Mary's Church: St Mary's Church is an ancient church that sits high and dry on the steep bank of the River Clwyd just a few hundred yards from Rhuddlan Castle. The first church in the Norman Borough of Rhuddlan was built about 1080. A new Parish Church was built in 1301 -and this appears to have consisted of the present south nave of St Marys, with further additions over the next two centuries making the building that is here today. The church celebrated it's 700th. Anniversary in the year of our Lord 2001 and a stained-glass window depicting the Castle, the Church, the Bridge and the River Clwyd was commissioned and installed. The building was substantially restored in 1812 and by George Gilbert Scott in 1870. It has the appearance of a typical 'Clwydian' or double-naved church of the late 15th Century.