A charter was originally granted to Holt in 1285, in the reign of Edward I, when Wales had lost its independence following the defeat of the Welsh Princes. It was at this time that work started on the building of Holt castle with the purpose of securing the lands of John de Warenne and the approaches to Chester. It was a symbol of the new order.
The Holt charter which you see here was granted to the burgesses of Holt, formerly known as the Town of Lyons, in 1563 by Elizabeth 1. It contains her signature and has her Great Seal attached. This charter is a reaffirmation of an earlier charter granted in 1411 to the burgesses of Holt by the Earl of Arundel who was Lord of Bromfield and Yale. This was a time when the area in which Holt was located was subject to great turmoil due to the uprising of Owain Glyndwr.
Holt was an English colonial town within the marcher lordships of Wales and the various charters conferred special privileges and duties on the inhabitants there.
The burgesses of the town had rights and responsibilities that included :-
· The right to be tried in their own court rather than the manorial court.
· The right to hold a market on Fridays and two fairs a year, the tolls and dues going to the crown.
· Common pasture for their cattle in ‘The Common Wood’.
· Impounding of stray animals until amends were made for trespass.
· The taking of ‘sea coal and turves’ from Coedpoeth and Brymbo.
· The use of a chamber or prison in the castle for ‘the safe keeping of those arrested’.
One of the duties was to provide one fit man for the protection and defence of the castle forty days in each year until the town was enclosed by walls. The walls were never built!