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Gareth Evans

December 2023



Ruthin’s alehouses/inns/Taverns/hotels, and public houses can be traced back to late medieval times. as they were bought and sold, they left a trail of property documents which record these transactions and provide evidence for their existence. From the early 18th century, the state began licensing alehouses and taxing them and the licenses provide a rich source of information about the alehouses, and their keepers. 

Some of the alehouses would have been a room or two with tables and chairs while, at the apex of the trade, there were multi-roomed hotels and stables employing numerous staff. 

There were well over 50 licensed premises in Ruthin, but not all of them existed at the same time. The government would often intervene to curb their activities or to tax them and so, when combined with market factors, their numbers shrank and expanded frequently. Creating an ordinary ale house out of an ordinary home was not a major task and likewise reverting to another use was also relatively simple. 

Beer or ale consumption peaked around the 1870s, then fell gradually and in the years before the First World War the government intervened through the police to cancel licenses as there were by now far too many licensed premises. Heavy taxation during the First World War accelerated this process and many licensed premises in Ruthin  and in the surrounding area disappeared.

In addition to alehouses coming and going their names constantly changed, so what we have is a rich and colourful tapestry of green dragons, becoming red lions and white horses and black bulls proliferating across Ruthin’s streets. 

This is probably not the last word on Ruthin’s alehouses, but if anyone recognises a howler or can identify an additional name or even an additional hostelry pleases contact the website and let us know.

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East of the River

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