Cathedral to New Inn

From the Cathedral look across the High Street at “Abbeyfield”, (facing the north side of the Cathedral) a residential home behind a stone wall. This is an important historic site. In 1402 Owain Glyndwr burnt down a hostelry and it was replaced by an ecclesiastical residence. Later on the “White Lion Inn” became a staging post for the mail and passenger coaches coming from Old Bont Dafydd Bridge, crossing the River Clwyd from Holywell. In 1854 the map shows a blank square, but by 1858 The Canonry was built. Latterly it became flats and by 1987, Kentigern Hall, “Abbeyfield”. This has an “undercroft” beneath the whole building. Next door, to the left, is the “Old Rectory”. It was built in three stages, the earliest on the left c 1780, with later phases during the Victorian era. The famous organist Dr Stocks lived there and in WW2 it was requisitioned by the Government as a Post Office. It has a red sandstone cellar and is rumoured to have an underground passageway linked to the Cathedral. A table block in the cobbled courtyard, housed a boy living above.

Cross over the High Street on the zebra crossing and walk down between “Sarah Tonin” and the Old Rectory and see the old brick “Barrow Cottage” and workshops. The yard takes its name from a former Inn “The George“. Dic Aberdaron was found fatally ill in the yard. “Sarah Tonin” has the date 1745 above the window. For many years it was “Barrow Crafts” (after Bishop Barrow) and adjoins “Temperance House”, which had been the Temperance Hotel and more recently solicitors’ offices. {Note the “inlet” off the High Street is the same as on the 1610 map}. The National Westminster Bank has had several manifestations. The Mostyn Arms Hotel was built in the 18th century; in 1837, the St Asaph Board of Guardians met there to establish the Union Workhouse; in 1932 it became the post office and then a shop.

When it was the post office, Mr. Bond, the postmaster lived above with his wife and eight children and had a staff of thirty four. The café/sandwich shop has been a butcher’s, “Scott’s Pantry”, “Ruth’s Farm Shop” and the “Farm Shop”. The old Barclay’s Bank building (now offices) on the corner of GemigStreet, stands on the site of the original town lock-up:-Epiphany 1809. “Presentment of high constable of the hundred of Rhuddlan “: “for a need for a lock housein St Asaph because of the disorderly state of some of the inhabitants when in a state of inebriation”. The former Midland/HSBC Bank building on the other corner has a decorative plaque of 1910 over the doorway; it has a cellar with a well.

The 1891 census shows the building as the Post Office and on the same site had been Henry Jones’ Butchers shop. {Look out for an OS “bench mark”!!!! Clue: before Gemig Street}. Walk down Gemig Street and immediately on your left, set back from the street is the old “Red Lion Inn”. It was built in the late 16th or early 17th century. A splendid red lion used to grace the entrance porch. Where is it now? The Inn was used as a theatre in the early 19th century, and a programme advertising plays from 1806 exists. Note the unusual octagonal house on your left as well as the former bakery, just after it.

Further down on the right is the old Calvinist Methodist Chapel. During WW2 a baby clinic was held here and later it became auction rooms. Llys Elwy c.1905 on the corner of Gemig Street and Lower Street was formerly a Liberal Club. Bear right and head down Mill Street and walk across the Common bearing right, and cross over the“new” Pont Begard footbridge (St Asaph is twinned with Begard in Brittany). Turn right and read about the wildlife on the carved signboard. Lloyd’s Mill once stood on the river bank near this spot on the town side. Otters can very occasionally be seen in the Elwy as well as dippers and elusive kingfishers. Turn back and follow the embankment until you reach the underside of the busy road Bridge over the Elwy. {Now, look at your Speed Map and pace out the distance from the existing “new”Bridge to where the bridge is depicted on the 1610 map.Make a note where you think it is.}

Retrace your steps back along the embankment and very shortly, turn down a small slope and bear left following the access road to the Doctors’ surgeries, noting “Pen y Bont” and follow the access road to The Roe. Turn right onto The Roe and note the large semi-detached, yellow brick houses which were built for retired professional people at the end of the 19th century. {The short roadway beside the The Plough takes you back beside the fire station, Library and Cricket Field to Pont Begard.} Continue along the Roe noting the older buildings on your right including the Swan Inn, and a number of older/changed houses/now businesses etc on both sides of the road. Just before the end of the Roe, is the “Smithfield” where cattle auctions are held. Bod Erw, on the other side of the Roe, was lived in by Violet Charlesworth who staged her own death at Penmaenmawr. {On the other side of the roundabout on the left is the Talardy Hotelwith its spectacular Victorian glass house. Three other houses bring you to the edge of the town, under the second, “Parkfield”, is a cellar that once belonged to the Black Lion.}

Retrace your steps back along the Roe, and before you cross the road by the Bridge, see the Old Deanery on the right and its impressive iron gates. You are now in Lower Denbigh Road/Penrhewl: head towards the Co-op, walking past and look at the OldWelsh Wesleyan Methodist Chapel. Beyond, is Ruby Terrace built in 1904, and the house beyond which was originally the bustling “Coach & Horses”. On the other side of the road used to be a thatched cottage and a smithy. Finally, you will see the New Inn.

These walks were compiled for St Asaph Archaeology Society in August 2012. Information and ideas came from “Companion to St Asaph”, my own research and “gossip” from citizens of St Asaph. (Edited in April 2013).

Beverly Webber, Archivist, SAAS.