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Monday, October 26, 2009

Haunted Mansions of Wales ( Hywela Lyn) 2 - Gregynnog

At the beginning of October I commented on one of Sharon’s Halloween posts that I've only had one really eerie experience. It was some years ago when I was attending a writing weekend at an old mansion in Wales, Gregynnog. Various halls have occupied the site since the twelfth century and it was the ancestral home of the Blayneys and the Traceys from the fifteenth century. The house, a very large, mock Tudor building, was given to the University of Wales in 1963 by owners and art-collectors, Margaret and Gwendoline Davies, the granddaughters of Victorian tycoon, David Davies of Llandinam.

Some years ago, I attended a writing workshop at Gregynnog. We were told there was a legend that the house was haunted by a lady whose family used to own it but who lost their money and had to leave. Apparently she returned to the house after she died because she loved it so much. I felt nothing but a warm, welcoming presence, not cold or frightening at all. I slept soundly at night and enjoyed exploring the house and grounds, and writing in the large, comfortable music room.

The gardens were mostly formal, and extend to 700 acres, although they used to be considerably larger. There was an interesting statue of a huge hand in a secluded area, not far from the house I took a photo of a friend standing beside it, and he took one of me. When they were printed the one of him was fine, nice and clear and sharp. The one of me, taken seconds later, with the same camera, showed a mist in the bushes behind me and the shadowy figure of a lady in a long flowing dress. It wasn't easy to see unless you looked really hard, and it was another friend who first spotted it.
The figure eventually faded over time, although it was still visible once you knew where to look.

I’ve kept it in an album with several other photographs. Strangely enough, when I went to remove the photographs to scan some of them for this article, and see if anyone reading this could see the lady, that particular one had disappeared. It still hasn’t come to light. Is that a coincidence do you think, or something more...supernatural?

I would add that I’m not the only one who has had strange experiences regarding this beautiful old house.

I came across this, on the website ‘Ghosttheory’:

Sports reporter Gavin Grosvenor wrote that he believed he had encountered the spirit of the Davies sisters at Gregynog.

He said: “One cold winter evening near the hall my friend and I felt the presence of one of the Davies sisters. “We had stopped on a small bridge near the entrance to Gregynog Hall, known locally as Squew Bridge. It was a cold night but we decided to stop for a cigarette while hanging our legs over the side of the bridge.

“To this day I have no idea why I looked down into the river below but when I did I noticed the reflection of the moon on the water through an overhanging tree branch had created a very clear outline of a woman.

“I have been known to have vivid imagination so asked my friend whether he also saw the shape of a woman. He agreed it was definitely the shape of a woman in a long dress.
Before he could finish his sentence there was an inexplicable strong wind which seemed to come from nowhere.

“Minutes before the evening had been calm and quiet but now we could hardly hear each other for the screeching cold wind which seemed localised to the bridge.” Gavin and his friend quickly headed for home.

“With the wind screaming into our faces to the extent that tears were almost in our eyes we picked up the pace and just thought the person behind us was walking their dog and had been caught in the same bad weather. “As we approached the hill I looked behind and noticed this person had no dog. “No big deal I thought but I double taked and what I saw next will stay with me forever. Not only was this person not walking a dog but this person appeared to have no legs. There was also something eerily familiar about this person’s shape. It was the same shape we had both seen reflected in the water.” They picked up pace, but the spectre just followed suit.

“The wind was still strong and by now the spectre was within touching distance. Before we reached light we looked behind again. There it was. A faceless shape of a woman wearing clothes from over 100 years ago.

“I don’t know why but we both agreed afterwards that we had seen the ghost of one of the Davies sisters and it had wanted us to stay away from her former mansion home.”

Tom, the house manager, stated that he walked out of the outside office block, to go into the house proper, and had to walk past the windows of the old Edwardian laundry room (they were still used at times, but were obviously barred to guests. One evening, at one of the windows stood a burly white haired woman, with her hair up in a bun and wearing some kind of an apron. “She just stood and looked at Tom sternly, and as he was the overall boss at Gregynog, he marched round to the laundry room to see who she was, and to get her out of there.

“Needless to say the room was totally deserted.”


Sharon Donovan said...

Let's have a standing ovation for another bewitching Wales tale from our very own Hywela Lyn. Bravo, Lyn! This one is every bit as chilling as the last. And my spine is still tingling about the picture. I don't think it was coincidental. Spirits are said to lurk and have ways of letting us know when we are "Stepping on their toes!"
Gather round the hearth, one and all. Oliver will serve hot cider, hot buttered rum, cups of tea and munchies. Enjoy this bewitching hour with Lyn.


Hywela Lyn said...

Thanks for having me here again, Sharon. Yes, It's that photograph was very eerie, although I never felt she was a malevolent spirit, but for some reasons she didn't want to be seen by everone, just those she chose to reveal herself to.

Ooh Oliver, just what I need, a hot cider.

P.L. Parker said...

Okay Hywela - you're seriously giving me the chillies. Both stories were wonderfully scary. I once visited a house near Fruitland, Idaho, that a friend of mine was renovating. On any night, footsteps could be heard walking overhead, the door to the upstairs porch would open and the footsteps would go outside. She also had me climb out on the roof to look into a small room that had no access from inside the house. When I peeked into the small round window, there was a long box which looked like a casket set up on a high table or something. Really creepy. I told her if it was me, I'd knock down the wall and get that thing out of there. Didn't seem to bother her, tho.

Hywela Lyn said...

Thanks for your comment, Patsy, glad you enjoyed the post. Ooph, that's a very chilly story of your own, your friend sounds very brave, I think the sound of footsteps is every bit as scary as seeing something ghostly!

Linda Swift said...

Hywela, I loved reading both your blogs on the ghosts that haunt those wonderful castles in Wales. My husband and I have spent some time in Llandudno (It took me a bit to learn that the first "L" is pronounced as a "K") and visited Conway castle. What an interesting village there with those high walls around it. It was misty and gray and very cool that day we were there and I had an eerie feeling as we explored the castle. Yes, I believe in spirits of former living souls hovering here if they choose. Linda

Hywela Lyn said...

Hi Linda

Thanks so much for your kind comments I'm glad you enjoyed both the posts and your visit to Llandudno. Yes, the Welsh 'll' is not easy to pronounce, it's actually more of a soft 'chl' sound than a hard 'k' but it's very difficult to try and write phonetically - well done on mastering the pronounciation, lots of people wouldn't attempt it!

Isn't it fascinating how certain buildings seem to shelter the spirits fo the dead!

Sharon Donovan said...

Welcome Patsy and Linda. Oliver has hot cups of cider or tea while we sit around the hearth. Aren't these ghost stories great? I think we've all heard the floorboards creak in the middle of the night. And isn't it funny how after hearing an otherworldly story or watching a scary movie, these creaks can be so atmospheric to our mood? LOL
Patsy, that would be creepy and almost sounds like some type of cult ritual. And Linda, lots of ghostly ambiance with your trip.

Linda Swift said...

Hywela, I realized after I posted that I had written Conway Castle and it's Conwy,with no vowels, isn't it? Did I mention that my mother's family came from Wales so I was especially eager to go there. Linda

Hywela Lyn said...

Hi Linda

Yes, you're right,it's Conwy, pronounced 'Conwooey'. How interesting that your mother's family came from Wales, I'm assuming that would be North Wales?

Acecoollo said...

I suppose all houses should be haunted.