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Page last updated at 14:49 GMT, Tuesday, 20 October 2009 15:49 UK
Denbigh Castle

Denbigh Castle
Much of the 13th Century castle and town walls still stand

By Fiona Gale
The county archaeologist for Denbighshire explains how the town developed

Edward I created the Lordship of Denbigh in 1282 after capturing the town from Welsh noble Dafydd ap Gruffydd, with the lordship granted to Henry de Lacy, the Earl of Lincoln.

He had led some of Edward's troops into Wales along the Dee Valley in 1277 in the early stages of Edward's final campaign to take over Wales.

As soon as it was granted to Henry, work began on the construction of the castle and town walls on the top of a limestone hill. Much of the castle, the town walls, the Burgess Gate and St Hillary's chapel still remain.

Denbigh Castle entrance

Henry de Lacy granted the new borough the first charter of privileges in 1285. At this time 65 burgages were listed. These would have been predominantly English people brought in to build up and control the town.

In 1294 the town was attacked by Welsh rebels. A second charter was granted sometime between 1295 and 1305 and this only lists 45 burgages, presumably a reduced number of people following the attack. Even by this date the town was expanding outside the town walls.

By 1305 there were 183 burgages were outside the town walls and only 52 inside. This pattern increased. By the time of John Speed's map, drawn in 1610 the modern street pattern outside of the medieval town walls was well established. The area outside the walls developed as the main market area for the town.

The castle and walls were substantially complete by 1305 as was St Hilary's Chapel. The main parish church for Denbigh however remained St Marcella's at nearby Whitchurch. All but the tower of St Hilary's chapel was demolished in the 1920s.

In the late 13th century the Carmelite Friary was set up in the town. Remains can be seen of the Friary church close to the Town End crossroads.

In the 16th century Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, held the Castle and Lordship between 1563 until he died in 1588. During this time he began the building of Leicester's Church, at the top of Bull Lane.

It is thought that he anticipated that the bishopric would be transferred from St Asaph to Denbigh. This never happened. The Market Hall (now the Library) was also built by Robert Dudley during this time.

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