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Burgess Gate

A Grade I Listed Building in Denbigh, Denbighshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.1826 / 53°10'57"N

Longitude: -3.4207 / 3°25'14"W

OS Eastings: 305154

OS Northings: 365995

OS Grid: SJ051659

Mapcode National: GBR 6M.3HK4

Mapcode Global: WH771.F89H

Entry Name: Burgess Gate

Listing Date: 2 February 1981

Last Amended: 20 July 2000

Grade: I

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 1020

Building Class: Defence

Location: On the northern side of the Old Town of Denbigh, at the lower end of the street.

County: Denbighshire

Community: Denbigh (Dinbych)

Community: Denbigh

Locality: Denbigh - Castle

Built-Up Area: Denbigh

Traditional County: Denbighshire

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History

The Burgess Gate was built between 1282 and 1294 by Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, as one of two fortified gateways to his new walled borough town of Denbigh. The other gate, known as the Exchequer gate, has not survived. The Burgess Gate was the principal gate to the town and appears on the medieval civic seal as a symbol of urban pride. Accordingly its twin-towered front was given chequer-work decoration similar to that on the castle gatehouse.

During the Civil War the castle and old town were garrisoned and defended for the king by Colonel William Salesbury, a redoubtable commander known as 'Old blue stockings.' The famous siege of Denbigh under the parliamentarian generals Middleton and Mytton lasted for some nine months, during which time 'brave Denbigh' valiantly held out to much royalist acclaim. (A contemporary poem describes the 'palace of Dame Loyalltie...surrounded closely with a narrow sea of black rebellion'). During much of the siege the parliamentarian besiegers had control of the 'lower town' and suburbs. The Burgess Gate therefore saw considerable action as the first line of defence for the defenders of the old town and castle. Scarring and impact damage from Civil War small cannon can still be seen in several places on the facade of the gate, especially in the area around the left-hand slit window. This damage may relate to the siege or else to an attempt by Royalist forces under Major Dolben and Captain Chambres to storm the castle and release the imprisoned general Sir John Owen, in 1648. In a subsequent attack, the beseigers are recorded as having ridden up to the gates and fired off their pieces at the walls 'in a bravado.'

Exterior

Large twin-towered gatehouse, some 16m wide and high. Of limestone construction with buff/green sandstone ashlar facing (now rather weathered) and chequer-work patterning to the upper stage. The gate consists of a tall four-centred, double-arched entrance placed between a pair of large storeyed drum towers with heavily-battered square plinths. The rear of the gateway is rectangular and has limestone facing. The entrance arch gives onto a vaulted passage between the flanking towers, the defences to which originally comprised gates, a portcullis, murder holes and side arrow slits for lateral fire. Each tower has a rectangular ground floor guard chamber. The upper storey (now lacking its floor) has a large chamber with fireplace occupying the western drum tower and the area above the passage, with a further chamber in the eastern tower; there is a straight mural stair in the western tower and access to the wall walk from either side. Slit windows to the front of the towers and arched windows (much weathered) to the centre and rear of the upper stage.

Reasons for Listing

Listed Grade I as an exceptionally-fine and important example of late C13/early C14 millitary architecture possibly associated with Edward I's famous master mason/architect James of St George.

Scheduled Ancient Monument (RCAM 21).

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