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IT'S difficult to escape rebel prince Owain Glyndwr's shadow wherever you venture in Corwen. Having taken his title from his boyhood village of Glyndyfrdwy just down the valley, this was one of his strongholds as he led his 15th century rebellion against English rule.
The town dances to the fluttering of his red and yellow squared standard of lions rampant, fittingly given a new lease of life and greater prominence in recent times.
And, having been unveiled in the last few weeks, a strikingly impressive statue of Owain on horseback dominates the main square, having replaced its rusting and much derided predecessor that appeared to show the Promised Son standing there in wellington boots.
Across the road lurks the brooding presence of the Owain Glyndr Hotel, built in 1329, and bedecked with Welsh flags - one of Owain's, a Cross of St David and two Dragons.
It rests comfortably in the bosom of the ancient church of St Mael and St Sulien, the graveyard - with its unique kneeling stones at the foot of some of the graves - extending right to the inn's back wall. The lychgate is built against the gable end.
Formerly known as the New Inn, it was here that the very first national Eisteddfod to which Joe Public was admitted was held, in May 1789.
The winning poet was Rev Walter Davies, better known as Gwallter Mechain. A huge furore surrounded his success after it emerged he'd been handed the subject of the competition beforehand by the adjudicator. Intrigue, indeed, no doubt washed down with gallons of ale.
By the time George Borrow was in these parts researching his 1862 travelogue Wild Wales it had assumed its present name, although in his own idiosyncratic style he called it the "Owen Glyndower".
It's said a ghostly presence haunts the hotel, a beautiful if morose young woman whose passionate affair with a local holy man had the skids put under it by outraged locals. I know how lonely she must feel.
Pushing open the heavy door, I stumble into the residents' part, before retracing my steps and finding myself in a wide corridor laid out as a drinking area. The high-backed wooden chairs are empty, as is another room further along. I find the bar proper in a room tucked away to the right, high stools ready for thirsty imbibers.
Although I hear a voice in the distance chatting away on the phone, my calls for service go unheard. My mind flits back to a previous visit, many moons ago. The place was jam-packed with enthusiastic young drunkards getting their ration in before cramming into the famous if teetotal Pavilion for a concert - before they were known as gigs - by Welsh rockers Edward H.
How eerily different it is today, although the place obviously reeks of history. I leave with my thirst unslaked, but my sense of intrigue heightened. As Schwarzenegger warns: "I'll be back."