Thursday, 24 September 2009

Weekend of open doors at Ruthin Gaol

An open door is not something the prisoners would have seen very often, but the doors of Ruthin Gaol will be open to all on Saturday and Sunday 26th and 27th September as part of Open Doors Denbighshire, a celebration of architecture and heritage in North Wales.

The weekend is a unique opportunity to visit many buildings which are not normally open to the public, or not open free of charge.

Ruthin Gaol is a fascinating building dating back in parts to the 1700s. There was a gaol on the site as early as 1654. The present structure dates from 1775 and was expanded and enlarged on several occasions, particularly during the 1800s.

The Gaol closed in 1916 and later served as a munitions factory during World War Two, which is celebrated with a dedicated exhibition. It opened to the public as a museum in 2002.

Visitors to the Gaol will be enthralled by the wide range of interactive exhibitions and displays, which include information on early Victorian police photography and fingerprinting, crime and punishment, prisoners’ diet, and washday and bath day at the Gaol.

Special displays record the history of the Gaol’s most famous inmates, John Jones, or Coch Bach y Bala, the ‘Welsh Houdini’, and William Hughes, executed at the Gaol in 1903 for shooting his wife. The atmospheric condemned cell originally led straight out onto the gallows.

The Gaol welcomes families and has full disabled access. In addition, during Open Doors Weekend, there will be free demonstrations of traditional basket making with Mandy Coates. The Gaol will be open both days 10 am – 5 pm, last admissions 4 pm.

Other events taking place during the weekend include:

  • At Nantclwyd Y Dre there is plenty to see and do. The ever popular tours with Conservation Architect Phil Ebbrell, an exhibition of ‘10 Things You Didn’t Know About Ruthin’, in the garden there are Tradtional Building Skills demonstrations, including stone masonry, traditional plastering methods and stained glass. The demonstrations are provided coutesy of Recclesia Ltd and Haddow and Fay Ltd.
  • St Peter’s Church will be celebrating their 700th year in 2010 – take a tour of the church and Old Cloisters and find out how they are preparing for their celebrations.
  • Other tours still available to book are the Geological tours and Discover Medieval Ruthin on Saturday, the Crime and Punishment tour on Sunday morning and the tour of Ruthin where you can hear folk and ghost stories on Sunday afternoon.

For more information, to book walks and tours, or to request a guidebook, please phone 01824 705274 or visit the website


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