From Cadw Welsh Historic Monuments

Denbigh Castle

Denbigh, Wales


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So it was that Denbigh fell into English hands. Immediately following the capture of the Welsh stronghold, on the 16 October 1282 the campaign commander in the district, Henry de Lacy, earl of Lincoln was given direction to build Denbigh Castle by King Edward I.

The troubled state of affairs in the early 1400's was not resolved during the Wars of the Roses. Denbigh castle and lordship, which had long been in the hands of the Mortimer family, was to become one of the main centres of support for the dukes of York and the Yorkist cause in Wales. The Lancastrian King Henry VI, however appointed his half-brother Jasper Tudor, earl of Pembroke, to the post of constable of Denbigh Castle in 1457. This was an empty gesture until Jasper could actually occupy the castle.

On two occasions Jasper did launch determined attacks on Denbigh; he held it for a few months in 1460-61, just after the death of Richard, duke of York, at the battle of Wakefield. But this only lasted until the success of York's son Edward (later King Edward IV) at the battle of Towton. On his second attempt, in 1468, Jasper Tudor failed to take the castle, but burnt the town within the walls.

It was claimed that because of this disaster the townsfolk moved away from the hilltop defenses, and established a new town on the lower ground where the present market place is situated. The cellars under some of the shops may date from this move, though the arcade which support the houses over those shops are most probably of the late Tudor or early Stuart periods.

When it was first built the castle needed the town as an added protection but now 200 years later the townsfolk did not wish to be a prime target as they shielded the castle.

During the sixteenth century little was done beyond carrying out some routine maintenances under Robert Lloyd who was described as 'clerk of the works and repairs'. Under the Tudors, particularly Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, there were regular surveys made to assess costs of repair and to determine whether in time of peace these castles were necessary to the Crown or whether they should be sold or demolish to save costs.