Denbigh Castle still wasn’t complete when Henry de Lacy died in 1311. The great gatehouse probably never did receive its planned turrets or final storey.
Perhaps he just didn’t have the heart for it. Tradition says the earl was devastated after his eldest son Edmund fell to his death down the castle well.
Unfinished maybe – but the castle continued to attract events of national importance. In 1400 Henry Percy (Shakespeare’s Harry Hotspur) held Owain Glyndŵr at bay for more than two years before rising up against the English crown himself.
In 1563 it was granted to the powerful favourite – some say lover – of Queen Elizabeth I, Robert Dudley. The newly created Baron Denbigh and Earl of Leicester made a few minor repairs to the residential parts of the castle.
But he reserved most of his energy for a grandiose scheme to build a church of cathedral-like magnificence inside the town walls.
At the outbreak of the Civil War it was Colonel William Salesbury’s unenviable job to defend the castle for the Royalists. The man they called ‘Hen Hosannau Gleision’, or Old Blue Stockings, held out for six months against overwhelming odds.
Eventually, instructed by King Charles I to surrender, Salesbury and his men marched out with flags flying, drums beating and trumpets sounding. Even their muskets were loaded.