History of Penryhn Old Hall
The history surrounding the date of origin of Penrhyn Old Hall is up for debate. According to legend, Roderick Moelwynog, Prince of Wales, grandson of Cdwalder, the Last King of the Britons, built a palace in the early 8th Century on the very spot that Penryhn Old Hall now stands.
It’s believed Penrhyn Old Hall was built sometime in the 1300s, as the family of Penrhyn was mentioned in records during Edward III’s reign between 1327 – 1377. In addition, John Leland (King Henry VIII’s Antiquary) noted the “ancient stone house” of Plas Penrhyn (as it was originally known) in his records in 1549 – which adds some credence to the age of the home at that time.
Activity in the area is believed to go back to Roman times, with a large number of Roman coins being found nearby in 1873 and 1907, with coins dated to the time of the Roman Emperor’s Constantine and Carausius. In fact, records show that there was an ancient trackway that ran through here, which was likely used during the Romans occupation of Wales. They were believed to have been using the trackway to transport copper from the Great Orme mines.
Pugh Family & the Priest
In Elizabethan times Plas Penryhn was home to an influential Roman Catholic family named Pugh (their original coat of arms can be seen over the front doorway). The story goes that the Pugh family kept a priest who would officiate in the chapel that stands on the grounds. During this time a plot was discovered by a young girl at Penrhyn that would involve the killing of all Protestants in the area. The young girl informed people at nearby Gloddaeth Hall who upon hearing of the proposed crimes, immediately sent mounted troops to capture the conspirators at Penhyrn.
However, some of them managed to escape, whilst others were taken away. The priests (one of whom was William Davis) that escaped were hiding out in Little Orme in a cave for nearly a year, where they brought a printing press, and spent the whole time writing – publishing Wales’ first book, Yny lhyvyr hwnn.
A year after their escape they tried to reach Ireland but were arrested at Holyhead. William Davis was hung, drawn and quartered in Beaumaris in 1593. The Pugh’s are believed to have acquired his hand and stored it in a hole behind the house. There’s a stone dated 1590 above the large fireplace in the Tudor Bar, that is meant to commemorate his stay here. He was beatified by the Pope in 1987.
Another tale regarding the Pugh family involves an only son with two sisters. Legend says the son left home as a young man to travel abroad for decades, with his sisters presuming he had perished. Only the dishevelled and penniless man returned home with his sisters unable to recognise him, refusing to believe he was their long lost sibling – perhaps because they had already received their parents’ inheritance.
To prove who he was he told them of a needle he placed between one of the joists in the kitchen as a youth. It was apparently found exactly where he said. He also told them of a nail which he had left behind some bark on the pear tree in the garden. This was also found. The man was then seized and flogged then banished from the premises.
He was taken in by a neighbour who had realised who he was, only for him to leave the house one day never to be seen again. Several years later, the skeleton of a man was found in the lime kiln at the side of the home, with many believing it was the missing brother.