The Living Force
After the tragic tale of a servant’s suicide emerged this week with a hoax picture of a ghost outside the historic Llanelly House, Sion Morgan revisits some of Wales’ supposedly haunted buildings
Miskin Manor Hotel
Miskin Manor, near Cardiff, dates back to the 10th century and is reputedly haunted by a ghostly lady who appears regularly in the bar area between midnight and 1am. The hotel porter is said to have grown used to her appearances.
Hotel owner Ben Rosenberg believes she was a former resident of the house who is simply following a path between the bar and the drawing room she once regularly walked in life.
“There used to be a staircase where the bar stands today so she is evidently coming from the drawing room and going up the stairs just as she did when she lived here,” he said.
Castell Coch was built on the outskirts of Cardiff in 1870 for the wealthiest man in the world, the Marquis of Bute, and designed by architect William Burgess.
It is supposedly haunted by the ghost of a lady who, following the death of her son in nearby woods, died of a broken heart.
Following the death of the Marquis of Bute, Lady Bute continued to live in the castle but was, according to the story, driven out by the constant appearances of the ghostly white lady.
Llancaiach Fawr Manor
Llancaiach Fawr Manor in Treharris, Merthyr, has been called the most haunted house in South Wales.
“Llancaiach Fawr Manor is one of the spookiest and most atmospheric places I’ve ever been to,” paranormal investigator Phil Wyman has said.
“And when the lights go out and it’s pitch black, there is an overwhelming sense of desolation.”
The story goes that the grand staircase is haunted by two children, who appear then disappear. Several other ghostly children are apparently loose inside the house, their giggling voices clearly audible.
Author of Haunted Wales, Richard Jones, said: “The costumed female guides have long grown used to their aprons falling to the ground at the most inopportune moments when their bows have been untied by invisible impish hands.”
The manor’s kitchen is also said to be haunted by a lady in a white blouse who appears to be baking bread and who is assumed to be the ghost of Mattie, a former housekeeper.
Legend has it that in the 1630s a housekeeper at Aberglasney in Llangathen, near Carmarthen, saw five candles floating around the house’s newly plastered “blue room”.
The next morning, five maidservants were found dead in their beds. A charcoal stove, left burning to speed the drying of the plaster, had killed them as they slept.
Over the following centuries, the “corpse candles” became one of Aberglasney’s most abiding legends.
Since the 17th century ownership of the house has changed a number of times.
The phantom of Thomas Phillips, who bought the house in 1803, has apparently appeared to gardeners, ser-vants and tradesmen, while more recently guides have heard his ghostly footsteps.
Builders working on the regeneration of the house have also reported a young girl standing in a corner of the basement, apparently cooking.
It is, however, in Pigeon House Wood at the rear of the property that the most disturbing phenomenon is reported – many visitors sense a feeling of dreadful unease, intensifying as they descend the earthen path until, at the edge of the wood, it is replaced by sudden fear and eerie coldness.
The Skirrid Mountain Inn
The inn in Llanfihangel, near Abergavenny, dates back to 1110 when John Crowther was sentenced to death for sheep stealing and hanged from a beam of the inn.
The pub also doubled as a courthouse and over the next 800 years 182 felons would meet a similar fate.
The spirits of those executed here are said to often make their presence known in a direct and disturbing manner, including visitors feeling the overwhelming sensation of an invisible noose being slipped around their necks and tightening, leaving marks in the days afterwards.
Newton House in Llandeilo was originally home to the Rhys family’s castle, the ruins of which still loom large over Dinefwr Park.
It is haunted by a “white lady” who is thought to be the wronged wraith of Elinir Cavendish, first cousin of the lady of the house in the 1720s, although some versions of the story say she was her sister.
Tradition maintains that she was being forced to marry a man that she didn’t love and to escape his clutches she sought sanctuary with her family in Dinefwr Park.
Incensed by the rejection, her spurned suitor murdered her in cold blood.
Her ghost has walked the building ever since.
The sturdy manor in Talsarnau, near Harlech, dates back to the 14th century but today operates as a country house hotel and reportedly boasts one haunted bedroom, the Morfa suite, in which guests can look forward to the enchanting possibility of being lulled into their slumbers by a female phantom of good intentions.
She is thought to be the ghost of a former children’s nursemaid wearing long gown and mobcap. Author Richard Jones said: “Nobody who has seen her has found her to be in the least bit frightening or troublesome, indeed witnesses say that she has a very calming presence and emits an aura that helps them drift into a deep and restful sleep.”
Dylan Thomas’ Boathouse
The boathouse in Laugharne was the poet’s home for the last four years of his life.
With his widow Caitlin unwilling to live in the boathouse after Thomas’ death, his mother, Florence became the tenant, staying until she died there in 1958.
Her ghost is believed to haunt the house which is now a shrine to the memory of her son.
Staff have often been surprised when opening the premises at the beginning of the day to hear the sound of a chair scraping over the floor upstairs, as though someone has quickly risen from a table to avoid them.
The Robber’s Grave at St Nicholas churchyard
The grave in Montgomery is that of John Davies, a “melancholy, grief-haunted man” whose past was shrouded in mystery but who in 1819 became the steward on the rundown farm owned by a widow named Morris and her daughter, Jane.
Thanks to his dedication, the fortunes of the business were soon reversed.
But, according to legend, the sudden success angered a local man, Thomas Pearce, who had hoped to benefit from the widow’s misfortune by acquiring the property at a bargain price. Davies also made an enemy of Robert Parker when his fiance Jane Morris abandoned him for Davies.
The two men carried out a violent robbery, leaving behind evidence implicating Davies who found himself charged with highway robbery and sentenced to death.
As the noose was tied around his neck he shouted: “If I am innocent, the grass, for one generation at least, will not cover my grave.”
And today, the story says bare patches can still be seen on the grave and that harm will befall anyone who attempts to tend it.