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August, 2021

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Mold is a small and attractive town on the River Alyn, overlooked by the Clwydian Hills. It used to be one of the main routes to North Wales, but is now bypassed.

It is still a thriving market town for the area with a lot of independent shops in the town centre which have survived the arrival of the out of town supermarkets. It also has one of the largest “street markets”: in North Wales when stalls fill the High Street on a Wednesday. The bi monthly Farmers’ Market in held in St Mary’s Church Hall on King Street. It also has a livestock market on Mondays and Fridays.

A “motte and bailey castle”: was built here in the late C11th and was one of the early castles built by the Normans to consolidate their hold on Wales. A town grew up round it and the houses round the base of the Castle on Bailey Hill are some of the oldest in Mold.

With the end of the Welsh Wars in the C14th, trade grew rapidly between the Welsh and English merchants. The town had a weekly market and two annual fairs. Drovers brought their livestock to be sold here.

By the late C15th the lordship had passed to the powerful Stanley Family and the Parish Church of St Mary was built by Margaret Beaufort, wife of Lord Stanley and mother of Henry Tudor, in thanksgiving for his victory at the Battle of Bosworth. It replaced an earlier church. It took over one hundred years to build and is thought to be one of the finest ecclesiastical buildings in Wales. Unfortunately it was locked when I visited.

It is still surrounded by a large graveyard. This contains the tomb of Richard Wilson, a notable landscape artist, who was a founder of the Royal Academy and influenced both Constable and Turner.

Mold flourished in the C18th with the discovery of coal. It became the administrative centre for the area and the Quarter Sessions were based in the town. The town grew rapidly and many splendid buildings were erected.

The Old Assembly Hall at the Cross dates from 1849 and replaced the Old Leet’s Hall, where the manorial court was held. This was the focal point of Mold with an indoor market on the ground floor and rooms for meetings and concerts above. It is now Lloyds Bank.

Mold Town Hall on Earl Road was built in 1911 and is a fine example of Neo-baroque architecture. Peter Roberts, a local manufacturer of rubber goods and a pioneer in the development of the pneumatic tyre, donated money towards its cost. The massive new County Offices are on the outskirts of Mold.

Methodism was strong in Wales and over 80% of the population worshipped in non-conformist chapels. The largest was the Bethesda Welsh Presbyterian Chapel on New Street. It is a splendid building with a classical portico with columns. Dating from 1863, it replaced an earlier chapel on the site. School rooms were added to the rear in 1893 as education and particularly biblical knowledge was highly prized.

Mold’s most important claim to fame was the discovery of a Bronze Age “gold cape”: here in 1833 by workman digging a new road.

This is the largest piece of prehistoric goldwork found in Britain. It is made from the equivalent of 23 carat gold, weighs one kilogram and was created from a single ingot of gold. It fitted over the shoulders and upper arms and is thought to have been used in religious ceremonies. It has been carefully restored and is now in the British Museum . A replica can be seen in the Mold Museum,

Mold has a vibrant cultural life with many different festivals during the year. Theatr Clwyd
on the edge of Mold next to County Hall was built as an Arts and Educational Technology Centre and is now one of Britain’s leading regional theatres. As well as hosting visiting companies and artists, it also puts on work all over Wales.

The Clwydian Hills and Dee Valley to the west of Mold are an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and are planning to become a Dark Skies Area.

Cars and visitors rushing past on the bypass don’t realise just what they are missing!


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