Ancaster Square, Llanrwst

link to welsh translationLink to French translationAncaster Square, Llanrwst

Ancaster Square in its current guise dates from the 16th century, when Llanrwst entered a new era of prosperity after the turmoil of Owain Glyndŵr’s uprising and the Wars of the Roses. The square is named after the Duke of Ancaster, who married into the major local landowning Wynn family in 1678. This was when when Mary Wynn married Robert ‘Bertie’ of Grimsthorpe Castle. Many of the buildings around the square date from the 16th and 17th centuries.

Fairs and markets have been held in Llanrwst since 1282. From the late 14th century, the area now occupied by the square was the market place, which until the time of King James I was designed around a large mound of earth known as Bryn y Boten, which means “Pudding Hill” (think of an old-fashioned one, like a Christmas pudding). Nothing of the natural mound exists today except for small inclines when entering the square from Station Road, Bridge Street and Church Street and, more noticeably, the slightly elevated position of the Pen y Bryn Hotel.

A market hall was placed on the mound in 1470. The Wynns rebuilt it in 1661. After being burnt down, this was rebuilt in the 18th century as a two-storey stone structure with a large clock set into the wall above an arched entrance. A bell-cote housing the market bell was surmounted by a weathervane and a large gilt eagle. This crude and yet stately structure was built when the mound was flattened out. It stood until 1964, when it was demolished by the local town council to enable road widening.

Parts of the clock were returned to Llanrwst in 2002, housed in a new tower in the square built by Conwy County Borough Council. The tower is 10 metres tall, to accommodate the clock’s pendulum.

One Friday night in April 1914, a local resident ran through Ancaster Square, chasing a large bird of prey which he had spotted in Denbigh Street. The bird flew on down Bridge Street and out of town. On the following morning the bird – which was thought to be an eagle – was seen to swoop down and grab a Dachshund puppy from the grounds of the Geirionydd Hotel in Trefriw. A man who was sitting nearby threw a stick at the bird, which dropped the pup. The pup was badly injured.

From the south-west corner of Ancaster Square, Church Street leads to the almshouses – built in 1610 – and to St Grwst’s Church.

With thanks to Pat Rowley of Llanrwst & District Historical Society, and to the Crafty Kitten shop and Trysorau Bach for displaying the QR codes

Postcode: LL26 0LB    View Location Map