Denbigh community archive

Denbigh - A Great Place to Visit

Historic Denbigh is a friendly market town in the heart of the Vale of Clwyd, an area of outstanding natural beauty. Impressive architecture and ancient buildings feature prominently here, and the most famous structure is Denbigh Castle. Built in 1282, it enjoys spectacular, panoramic views of the Clwydian Range. With a striking, triple-towered gatehouse, the fortress has an on-site exhibition and is maintained by Cadw, the Welsh historic monuments body,and is a popular improving quality of life for all its residents

Walls and Walks

The Town Walls are of particular interest to visitors. A new project, Walls and Walks, has begun to bridge the gap between getting from the town centre up to the castle area and around the walls that once held back Oliver Cromwell's Roundheads during the Civil War. Call at the Town library if you would like to borrow the keys to the town walls, and enjoy a stroll back in time! Burgess Gate, the main entrance to the old town, boasts twin towers, forming the symbol on Denbigh's civic seal. Another building worth a look is Leicester's Church, and although never completed, the church was built by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, reputedly Queen Elizabeth I's lover.

Beautiful Buildings

The Townscape Heritage Initiative has helped restore a number of local properties to their former glory and many of these historic buildings open their doors to the public during annual heritage weekends. They include an old butter market, a Carmelite monastic house, the old Bull Hotel, Bron y Ffynnon (a Tudor townhouse), the churches of St Mary's and St Marcella's, chapels such as Capel Mawr, Pendref Chapel and Swan Lane Chapel. A figure from the past looming large over the town is Dr Evan Pierce, a 19th century medic. A 50-foot statue and memorial gardens in Vale Street are dedicated to his memory, and these are currently being renovated. Denbigh's state-of-the-art library in the town centre was once the County Hall, and dates back to the 16th century. Today it houses a wealth of books, computers and a gallery which hosts highly acclaimed art exhibitions. Spring 2005 saw the library becoming a base for BBC Wales’ pioneering, three-month community venture centred on Denbigh, helping put the town and district firmly on the map.

Something for Everyone

Whether looking for fantastic history, glorious views, walks or just shopping and eating, Denbigh has something to offer you. We have a wealth of clubs and societies, sports facilities and annual events which offer culture, leisure and entertainment. Denbigh offers schools and a college, a small hospital, and retail therapy of all sorts to tempt you. Our beautiful nearby villages are worth visiting, and our area offers residents and visitors alike, something for all seasons.


Denbigh (“Dinbych” in Welsh, meaning small fortress) is one of the most historic towns in North Wales. Denbigh’s name is derived from the word ‘din’, a fortified hill and the diminutive, ‘bach’, which together give the Welsh form Dinbych. The town is first mentioned in records in the years following the Norman Conquest when it became a border town guarding the approach to the Hiraethog Hills and Snowdonia. Denbigh was also probably the location of a fortified settlement during the Roman occupation and in the twelfth century, Dafydd ap Gruffydd, the brother of Llewelyn, the last Prince of Wales, had his headquarters here. Following the Norman Conquest in 1282, the Lordship of Denbigh was granted to Henry de Lacy who authorised the building of Denbigh Castle. The Constable of the Castle granted the town’s first Charter during Edward I’s reign and several others followed through the years. Denbigh remained a Borough in its own right until the local Government changes of 1974.The mediaeval town developed hand in hand with the building of the castle and was contained within town walls. Over the next few centuries Denbigh was fiercely contested between the Welsh and English and in 1563 Queen Elizabeth’s favourite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester was granted the castle and Lordship of Denbigh, becoming virtually the Governor General of North Wales. He was responsible for commissioning the Shire Hall, which now houses the town library. In 1643 Denbigh became a refuge for a Royalist garrison during the Civil War between Charles I and Cromwell’s Roundhead troops, but was forced to surrender in 1646. After this date the castle was slighted and the town walls were allowed to fall to ruin. The townsfolk had long since abandoned their inconvenient fortress-borough and moved to easier conditions outside the town walls. Amongst the largest and richest towns in Elizabethan Wales, Denbigh was at the time a powerful centre of renaissance culture and enterprise, and flourished subsequently as a prosperous market town. After the beginning of the 17th Century, the town developed as a centre of several crafts and these survived until the coming of the industrial age in the19th Century. In 1848 the North Wales Mental Hospital opened just outside the town, and at its peak had 1500 patients and provided employment for many townspeople. It remained open until 1995 and is now privately owned as a site awaiting development. By the 1860s Denbigh had become the main centre of the Vale of Clwyd and was on the railway network.