Historic Landscape Characterisation

Creuddyn and Arllechwedd – Area 7 Conwy PRN 15808


SH 781776 looking south-west. Showing the Edwardian castle and bastide town of Conwy , with the original grid plan of streets and the church of St.Mary 's in the centre.



Historical background

The site of the present town of Conwy was granted in 1186 by Llywelyn Fawr to the Cistercian Order for the establishment of a community; as a remote headland, it suited the Cistercian emphasis on manual labour and detachment from the world, ideals which did not survive the growing political and economic might of the abbey under the Princes.

After the conquest the monks were relocated to a new site at Maenan, on the east bank of the Conwy, seven miles upstream, and the former Abbey became the site of the new borough town and castle, designed to guard the estuary and to introduce a money economy and civil order to Arllechwedd. Its charter was granted in 1284, and the commotal centre of Arllechwedd Isaf, thought previously to have been established at Tal y Cafn, moved there.

The Conwy River remained a transport artery in its own right into the nineteenth, shipping lead, slate and timber from the Conwy valley, reflected in the construction of a new quarry by William Provis, Telford 's assistant, in 1823. The river, however, constituted a serious obstacle to east-west traffic until the ferry was finally replaced by a bridge connecting the spit of land on the eastern bank of the river with the spur of rock on which the castle is built. This, the Telford road bridge, was completed in 1826, a suspension bridge in which two solid ashlar towers support the chains. The Stephenson railway bridge was opened for traffic in 1848, and consists of two parallel rectangular-section wrought-iron tubes, built ashore and floated into position. Like its predecessor, it represented a considerable advance in bridge-building capability.

The arrival of the railway led to the expansion of Conwy beyond its Medieval limits, and the town continued to expand into the 1960s.

Key historic landscape characteristics

Walled and planned medieval town, street pattern, extra-mural suburban housing

The town itself remains an outstanding example of a pre-modern planned community, though no buildings remain from earlier than the fifteenth century other than the castle itself and the town walls. Aberconwy House and Plas Mawr are buildings of exceptional historic and architectural interest in their own right, but a number of other buildings from the sixteenth century survive, such as Hen Goleg, and others which have more modern exteriors. Conwy preserves the original grid-pattern of streets and forms a contrast with the nineteenth-century planned town of Llandudno . It preserves outstanding examples of historic transport facilities.



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