Sites of interest in Conwy include the remains of Parlwr Mawr in Chapel Street, former home of John Williams (1582-1650), who held the high posts of archbishop of York, dean of Westminster and Lord Keeper of the Great Seal. He led an eventful life, fleeing at one point to Parlwr Mawr after receiving a death threat in eastern England. He was imprisoned in the notorious Tower of London twice. He supervised rebuilding of Conwy’s town walls and castle in readiness for the Civil War, when he switched sides and helped the Parliamentarians capture the town and castle in 1646.
Stepping much further back in history, the remains of Caer Lleion, an Iron Age hill fort, sit on the ridgetop on Conwy Mountain, north-west of the walled town.
There are several sites of interest along Conwy quay which reflect the town’s long maritime history. At the north end, there was once a boatyard where Crossfields built vessels for the fishing industry. A typical example is the ‘Nobby’ (Morecambe bay prawn-fishing boat) called Helen II which is undergoing restoration on Conwy quay, although this example was built by Crossfields’ other yard, in Arnside, Cumbria.
The main focus of today’s fishing industry in Conwy is on the abundant beds of mussels along the estuary. Mussels have been fished here for thousands of years. The story is told in summer in the Conwy Mussel Centre, which reverts to processing mussels from autumn to spring.
Parisella’s kiosk on the foreshore at Conwy is a site associated with a more recent industry, ice-cream manufacture. The company was set up in Conwy in 1949 by an entrepreneur who had moved from Italy to Britain at the age of 16.
Noteworthy sites on the opposite shore of the estuary include Deganwy Quay, built to export slate from the burgeoning quarries at Blaenau Ffestiniog and now a marina, and the house in Deganwy where Harold Lowe – who saved many lives as RMS Titanic’s Fifth Officer – spent his retirement in the village of his birth. On the Vardre, the hills behind Deganwy, are the remains of Deganwy Castle, the base of King Maelgwn of Gwynedd around 500AD. The building may well have existed in Roman times.