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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Oliver Presents Hywela Lyn

A full moon glints through the barren branches of the trees in the haunted cemetery. On Hallow’s Eve, the spookiest night of the year, she rises from the coffin in search of her missing jewels. Tormented shrieks ring through the cemetery.  Shrouded in a long, flowing gown, she drifts toward the mansion where she once lived. Passing the pet cemetery adjacent to the family graveyard where centuries of horses are buried, a colony of screech owls peer down from the willowy branches, green eyes glowing in the dark. Scurrying up the thickly wooded path to the mansion, the sound of ghostly hooves galloping past echo her footsteps. 
Wandering up the stone steps, she walks straight through the closed mahogany door. Oliver stands in the corridor, holding a strange looking candlestick. He bows and bids the striking woman a good evening. She doesn’t answer but  drifts into the parlor as if she didn’t see him. Oliver thinks it strange but follows her and finds her seated on the deep purple settee. Long tapers flicker on the coffin table, casting an eerie glow on silver goblets of mead. Staring accusingly at Oliver, the woman holds up a ruby necklace.

When the screech owls shriek, Oliver announces his guest.

Good Evening. With great pleasure, I present the one and only Hywela Lyn. She has risen on this most sacred of nights to tell a ghostly tale, followed by an excerpt of her latest book. He kisses her on both cheeks and presents her with a goblet of mead. Take it away, my lovely.

Nanteos Mansion

One of my favourite places is Nanteos Mansion, near where I used to live in Wales. The name means 'Valley of the Nightingale'. I used to keep my horses at the stables and spent many a happy hour soaking up the atmosphere of this historic house, built in 1738.The Mansion has its share of ghosts and an interesting history. Late at night the stables would ring with unearthly screeches, like souls in torment. Actually it was nothing more sinister than a colony of screech owls nesting nearby. (Or so I was told.)

A short distance from the house itself is a little copse used to bury the Powell family’s pets. Some of the inscriptions are quite touching and the owner of the stables, which, when I was there, had been sold as a separate entity from the Mansion, swore he’d heard ghostly hooves galloping past, late at night.

Many legends name Nanteos as the one-time resting place of the Holy Grail, the chalice that Jesus and his disciples are believed to have drunk from at the Last Supper. The cup, known as ‘the Nanteos Cup’ was apparently brought back from the Middle East in AD 63 by Joseph of Arimathea, who settled at Glastonbury Monastery in the west of England. When the monastery was dissolved in 1539, a number of monks fled with the Holy Grail to Strata Florida Abbey, in the Aberystwyth area, and from there to Nanteos, where the cup passed into the hands of the Powell family. The Grail was famous for its supposed healing powers, and water poured from it was highly sought after as a cure for various diseases.

I’ve actually seen the ‘grail’, or what was left of it The owner of the house (and the cup) a Major Merrilees, eventually moved to Herefordshire, taking the Nanteos Cup with him. It is understood that it currently resides in a bank vault somewhere. It is a small wooden vessel (5″ diameter, 3″ deep) in a very poor state today, due to pilgrims’ biting large chunks out of it, over the years, in order to aid recovery from their ills. Although the Holy Cup is not at Nanteos anymore, there are still ghosts to be found in the many rooms of the mansion.

The old stables at Nanteos
Horses and voices were heard in the stable yard at Nanteos on two consecutive nights at about 4.00am, but as soon as the listener peered into the yard the noise abruptly stopped. (The picture above is the arched entrance to the cobbled stable yard.)

One of the ghosts said to haunt the mansion is the spirit of Elizabeth Powell, the late wife of William Powell, who wanders the hallways looking for her lost jewellery. The story goes that her husband William Powell dearly loved her and showered her with jewels. She could not bear to be parted from her treasured jewellery and dreaded to think what would happen to them after her death. Knowing that she was dying, she rose from her death-bed and hid her jewels. Later that night she died. Today her ghost, shrouded in a long flowing gown, still wanders like a lost soul searching for her hidden jewels. It is said she will haunt anyone that dares look for her treasure.

Parties were often held at Nanteos. One evening the house was full of guests, an army officer present went to dress for dinner. Climbing the stairs to his room he met a striking woman in evening dress, holding a strange looking candle stick. Thinking sh
e was one of the guests he bowed and bade her good evening. The lady did not answer but carried on down the stairs as if she had not seen him. He thought it strange but continued up to his room. 

On returning to the party he gazed around looking for the lady. Eventually he asked if anyone has seen this woman. Immediately, he was taken to one side and told never to speak of the lady with the candle stick or there would be a death in the family. That night, the Lord of Nanteos died... and the strange candle the lady had carried was found a week later in a dusty shelf in a corner of the Silver Vault Room.

A phantom horse and carriage is also said to pull up to the front entrance in the middle of the as a forewarning of a death.

The most eerie sighting was from the front door, and was that of what was thought to be smoke in the inner hall. The witness stared in disbelief as the smoke transformed in a figure dressed in a long flowing dress. She began coming towards the front door, terrifying the onlooker so much that he ran to Aberystwyth, not daring to look back.

The highlight for 69 Christmases at Nanteos, was Gruffydd Evans's beautiful harp playing every year in the Music Room. He was a relative of the Powell family and lived to a grand age of 92. He is buried at Llanbadarn Fawr a small village near Aberystwyth. On a still, peaceful night he can be heard playing his beloved harp deep in the Nanteos wood.

My favourite story is a rather sad one. One of the windows on the bottom storey has been boarded up for many, many years. The story goes that the lady of the house was watching her husband ride up the drive towards her, when the horse spooked and threw him, killing him instantly. She could not bear to look out of that window again and ordered it to be boarded over and so it remains to this day. She mourned for him the rest of her life and they say his ghost still rides up the drive at night. I like to think she rides with him now.

I have just re-released my story about Terpsichore, the Greek Muse of Dance.  It's actually quite a light fantasy tale, but it has its dark moments, like this one, which features the 'Ellylldan' nasty little goblin like creatures of Welsh folklore.


The glowing red sparks appeared a few hours before dawn. Terpsichore looked across to where she could just make out Myrddin, lying close to the fire, apparently asleep. She stood and wrapped her brat around her shoulders. What unearthly lights were these? In the name of Hades, she had never seen anything like this before. She watched them as they advanced and retreated, advanced and retreated. They seemed to beckon to her. She walked forward a few steps. This was not natural. She sensed evil, but of a kind she had never come across before.

She tried to turn her head, to look away and move back to the fire. Some force compelled her to keep staring at them, to move forward. Further and further from the campfire she wandered. The air grew chill and she pulled her brat more closely around her. The flickering lights gyrated in a wild dance, inviting her to follow them. Dawn was approaching. In the dim early morning light, she could make out demon faces, red glowing eyes, hands outstretched, with flames at their fingertips.

She recoiled in horror. Somewhere in her subconscious, she knew she was in deadly danger, but still she moved forward. They summoned her to follow and she could not help but obey. She tried to call to Apollo, and her father, but her mind was numb. She could reach no one on Olympus.
“Myrddin!” No sound came from her lips. Still, a strange unearthly power obliged her to walk forward toward those eerie, mesmerizing points of light.

The ground grew soft beneath her feet. Cold mud oozed between her bare toes. The further she walked, the deeper the mud became; eventually, she realized she was up to her waist in chill, muddy water, and she was powerless to turn back, or even to move any more.

“Zeus, oh, Father, please help me...don’t desert me now.”

For the first time in her eternal life, she knew fear. These creatures of nameless evil had her trapped. They would drag her down to the underworld and she would never see Olympus or her family again.
Then strong arms encircled her, swung her round.

“Cora, look at me.” She gazed into two pools of azure blue, filled with concern, and a pale face set in resolve. Still she had an irresistible urge to look at those weird, flickering lights. She turned her head, and at the same moment, there was a flash like lightning. The ground behind her burst into a wall of blue flame. It blotted out everything, engulfing the demon lights and the hideous forms that a moment before had lured her onward.

“Look at me. Look at me...don’t look back again.”
Before she could reply, he swept her up and carried her back toward the campfire.
Eos in her chariot had started her journey across the sky and the pearly light showed their camp and the two horses grazing nearby. Never had anything looked so welcome. Never had Terpsichore felt so safe in a man’s arms. 

Available from Smashwords:

Also available from Amazon in Kindle Version

and in Print
Hywela Lyn lives in a small village in England, with her long suffering husband Dave,  although her heart remains in her native rural Wales, which inspired so much of her writing.

A keen animal lover, she has two horses. a rescued Jack Russell and two 'ferel'  cats.

Her  first novel, a futuristic romance released by the Wild Rose Press was followed by a sequel 'Children Of The Mist'.  Lyn is working on a third story in the series.

She is a member of The Romance Novelists' Association (UK)


P.L. Parker said...

If I ever get over there, remind me not to go in that mansion. Brrrrr, I get shivers just thinking about it. Great chiller Lyn! And good luck with the Muse!

Hywela Lyn said...

Hello Patsy, dear 'Roast' sister

Thanks so much - actually Nanteos is a lovely place and I'm very fond of it, the ghosts never bothered me, even when I was there after midnight - the screech owls were quite scary though!

Hywela Lyn said...

Good morning, Dear Oliver and Sharon

Thanks so much for having me as your guest today, I always love visiting your lovely blog - it's always so - well, atmospheric! :)

Sharon Donovan said...

A warm welcome to my dear friend and soul sister, Hywela Lyn! Always a supreme pleasure to have you in the mansion, Lyn. You know how much I adore legends and chilling ghostly tales!

Sharon Donovan said...

Patsy, dear, don't you love those screech owls playing in your head now!

Mary Ricksen said...

Love the sound of 'Fate'! Can't wait to read it!
What a great place to board a horse. And such wonderful places to ride about on. Love you Lyn.
Sharon <3

StephB said...

Hywela, what a fascinating story about Nanteos manision. Thanks so much for sharing. This is the food for inspiration. :)


Sharon Donovan said...

HiMary, sweet soul sister, great legends. I especially love the one about the missing jewels. I love Lyn's Welsh tales about the mansion.

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Steph, food for inspiration is right. A sleu of storylines are racing through my head.

Oliver said...

Lyn my lovely, a nice goblet of mead and some double-dipped strawberries. Sweets for my sweet, give us a kiss.

Oliver said...

Patsy, Mary, Steph, my heart be still. Libations of the house, my pets, champagne and a nice deep red. SMILE

Hywela Lyn said...

Hello Mary

Yes, Nanteos was a beautiful place to keep and to ride through the estate - esp0ecially along by the lake. I have very fond memories of it.
Love you too, sweet friend.

Hywela Lyn said...

Mmm, Oliver, mead and double dipped strawberries, what more could a Halloween nymph want? A kiss, come here you handsome hunk you - Mwwaaah!

Hywela Lyn said...


Thanks so much for visiting -- glad you like the stories about Nanteos. You're right, a lot of my inspiration for my writing came from this area.

Calisa Rhose said...

I love hearing about haunted places. I once lived in a house with a ghost who didn't like me very well for some reason. :)

Your new book sounds fascinating!

Hywela Lyn said...

Hi Calisa

Thanks so much for stopping by - not sure if I'd like to actually live in a haunted house, I'd love to hear more of your ghostly experiences some time!

Glad you like the sound of 'Dancing With Fate' it was fun to write!

Oliver said...

Calisa, my pretty, a glass of bubbly perhaps and a strawberry

katsrus said...

That was a haunting story. I used to hear weird stuff in the older parts of the hospital I worked including my name and a toliet flushing in the next stall(I was the only one in there). Pretty book cover.
Sue B

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Sue
That must have been scary!

Thanks for the compliment on my cover, it was designed by my good friend, author Miss Mae!