The Power-House of Renaissance Wales
During the century and a half between the War of the Roses and the Civil War (1480-1640), Denbighshire produced more outstanding personalities than any other part of Wales. Poets flourished here; the scholars of St. Asaph translated the Bible into Welsh; and Humphrey Llwyd of Denbigh became ‘the father of Modern Geography’.
Meanwhile, a band of closely inter-related merchant-gentry spread out from the country to grow rich in London, at court, and even further afield, frequently returning to proclaim their success with fine houses and splendid monuments at home. These Myddeltons and Salusburys of Denbigh, Goodmans of Ruthin and courtier Thelwalls from Llanrhudd all made their mark on British history, and on the surviving buildings of Denbighshire. So too did the extraordinary Sir Richard Clough of Bach-y-Graig, the fifth son of a Denbigh glover, who prospered in Antwerp and died abroad, but sent his heart and right hand in a silver casket for burial in his parish church of St. Marcella (Site 31).
Among all these remarkable men, one remarkable woman should not be forgotten – Katharine of Berain (Catrin o’r Berain). This Denbighshire heiress (a distant cousin of Queen Elizabeth) married, in turn, a Salusbury; Sir Richard Clough; a Wynn and a Thelwall, producing so many noble descendants that she is called ‘Mam Cymru’ – ‘the Mother of Wales’.
Monument to Ambrose Thelwall, Llanrhydd
Kathryn of Berain by Adriaen Van Cronenburgh. By permission of the National Museum of Wales