The design of the building incorporates many environmentally friendly features — such as a ground source heat pump, electricity-generating solar panels, a green roof planted with sedum and LED lighting throughout — but also offers a well-stocked shop, a café bar and terrace, and a multisensory interpretation area.
Denbigh's story is long and fascinating, from its beginnings as a llys of the princes of Gwynedd, through the construction of the castle by Henry de Lacy in the late thirteenth century, right up to the six-month siege during the Civil War. New interpretation is installed to tell that story and to reveal the castle's complexity and sophistication as a palatial home as well as a mighty fortress. It also emphasises Denbigh's important place in the larger narratives identified in the all-Wales interpretation plans for The Princes of Gwynedd and The Castles and Town Walls of Edward I.
The new interpretation, which is tailored to the needs and interests of the many families who visit the castle, begins as soon as you step into the celebrated three-towered gatehouse. The clatter of the rising portcullis and the heavy tread of marching soldiers will leave no doubt that you are entering a great and powerful stronghold.
Once inside, a short film in the visitor centre introduces you to three cartoon characters — Huw, the castle guard; Tom, the kitchen boy; and young Eleanor (based on the daughter of Henry de Lacy's cousin, Earl Gilbert de Clare, and the granddaughter of Edward I) — who help bring the castle's story to life.
Trails featuring each of the three characters help children and their families discover the castle's principal features and its intriguing hidden corners. Each character will have different views and perceptions of the castle, creating a multilayered and memorable experience.
If you would rather explore on your own, you will find new interpretative panels with reconstruction drawings and lively and engaging texts explaining what life was like for the people who lived and worked in the castle. There is also a display of the medieval artefacts found during excavations at the castle and a handling collection of replica objects.
The new interpretation extends into the surrounding areas too, including the town walls and Lord Leicester's Church. These panels draw out the important links between castle and the town - vital in understanding the rich history of Denbigh as a whole.
The new visitor centre and interpretation have been funded through Cadw's £19 million European-funded Heritage Tourism Project, which is backed by £8.5 million from the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.