December 2019

Cornucopia—Open Doors 2019 Clement (perfect?) weather, a significant boost in participants, new venues and businesses reporting a financial fillip—this September’s Open Doors was one of our best. Here, we look at some of 2019’s new offerings State of Distress Open to the general public for the first time was London House’s cellars, currently and recently occupied by State of Distress. Theirs are believed to be one of the oldest red-brick cellars in Wales. State of Distress uses it for pottery workshops. The cellar itself extends under neighbour Bar Llaeth. Beneath the cellar is a well which it is believed serviced the former public water pump on St Peter’s Square. In more recent times, the site was occupied by an off-licence and the last incarnation closed in January 2017. It was then “under refurbishment” or should we say reefer-bishment. For the cellar then became the site of a £3m cannabis farm till in June 2017 the police busted it. To this day, there remains evidence of plant production, thanks to green staining on one cellar wall. Bells of St Peter’s Apart from marking the hour, St Peter’s church bells have been largely silent since the 1970s. The £98,000 project to restore the bells—the biggest single project at that time—only concluded during the last week of August, when the bells again sounded. A week later, two days before Open Doors, and the soft furnishings in the bell room were finished. The Open Doors weekend was therefore the first real test of the newly refurbished bells. Ringing repeatedly for those who ventured to the bell room, they greatly added to the atmosphere in town. Tŷ Cerrig, Llanfwrog Dating from the fifteenth century, this cruck framed house was once home to four families who worked at Ruthin Castle. It was reportedly used as a laundry for the Castle. It was bought dilapidated by its current owner and extended in 2013. Tŷ Cerrig is built on porous limestone. During the height of the flooding in the early years of the 21st century, parts of the property were flooded and this included fountains of water under pressure, within the house. Visitors were able to see the witch marks on the fireplace. See p11 of September 2018’s Town and Around for more information on them, at ruthincivic.org/publications/town-and-around/archive/ St Dyfnog’s Well, Llanrhaeadr Much has been written in the local newspaper and social media on on- going he work at the well. The archæological project aimed to identity whether the well had indeed been of importance during Georgian times, as had been thought and whether the popularity of the site in mediæval times had indeed funded the church’s Jesse window. At the time of Open Doors, this seemed inconclusive. A number of artefacts were revealed during the dig but other than flint nothing was especially old.  Masonic Hall Never before open to the general public, the hall was situated in the church cloisters. The entrance was via a stairway with some ornately carved wood. Wynnstay House At least 400 people took advantage of seeing the Wynnstay. This was our first opportunity to do so since the pub closed nearly 10 years ago. We were able to see the refurbishment that began in January this year. On display were pieces of the Wynnstay frieze believed to be early 17th century, together with other finds such as Ruthin bottles, beam pins, handmade brick and even a brick with cat paw marks. Tŷ Coch Barn, Llangynhafal Another restored cruck framed property, believed to date from c.1430, this time let as a business. Till the second Open Doors weekend, who even knew of its existence?
Archive from 2013 Historic Interest
Unlocking the Asylum  For Open Doors, the Denbighshire Archive opened its material, displays and media presentations on “Unlocking the Asylum” of the former North Wales Hospital.  Among the material offered was a glimpse as to why people between 1842 and 1918 were admitted to the Denbigh hospital.  They presented with such “symptoms” as mischievousness; excitability; religious excitement; intemperance; puberty; love affairs including seduction; love disappointments; post natal depression; war anxiety (worry about relatives fighting in the Great War); imbecility; and idiocy.
Open Doors ’19 by Robin Hill Autumn air strikes a morning chill Prompting to don a coat, Though days can be quite sunny still, This is weather that gets my vote. Such ’twas both weekends for Open Annual festival of delights, As historic buildings one explores, Or feasts eyes on other sights. St Peter’s bells and registers On display to hear and see, Rehung, retuned, fresh spirit stirs For those seeking past family. The fine Old Court House on the Where Owain struck a match, Undergoing more than just repair For Ruthin’s community quite a catch. The Wynnstay—once the Foxes Sadly now split asunder, But major work disregarding cost Has uncovered former wonder. Tŷ Coch Barn at Moel Famau’s foot Cruck timbered, again stands proud, Not just saved, restored to boot, With new business use endowed. For fifteen centuries St Saeran’s At the heart of Clwyd’s Vale, Has survived its battle to endure Spiritual pilgrims to regale. It must be said this annual feast Is a cultural shot-in-arm, As awareness of heritage has Of the wealth of Ruthin’s charm.