Monday, 29 October 2012

Wishing you all a happy and suitably spooky (reading) Halloween - by Hywela Lyn

 Autumn - time of mellow fruitfulness etc. Well, it was officially the end of British summertime at the weekend. What summertime? I hear you ask.  Good question, it was a bit damp and miserable for the most part wasn't it?  And the promised 'Indian Summer'failed to materialise.  However, in a couple of days it will be Halloween, so I thought I'd share some ghost stories.
Nanteos Mansion


One of my favourite places in all the world is Nanteos Mansion, near where I used to live, in Wales. 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.) The owner of the stables, which, when I was there, had been sold as a separate entity from the Mansion itself, swore he’d heard ghostly hooves galloping past, late at night.

A short distance from the house itself is a little copse used as a graveyard for the mansion's family horses, dogs and other animals.. I would spend sunny Saturday afternoons, after I'd finished riding and caring for my horses, writing on the grass in this peaceful little haven, or looking at the rather sad little graves. Some of the inscriptions are quite touching, and the horses, dogs, cats and rabbits were obviously much loved


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. 
The arched gateway leading to Nanteos stable yard

There, there are still ghosts to be found in the many rooms of the mansion. One of the ghosts said to haunt the old house 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 at the end of her life, dreaded to think what would happen to them after her death. She rose from her death-bed and gave the jewels to a maid, to hide.Later that night she passed fiom this life 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 she 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.


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. 

 My favourite story is a rather sad one. One of the windows on the bottom storey were 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 remained until the mansion was sold a few years ago and completely renovated.. 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'm sure there's a great story there - my next WIP perhaps?)



I thought I'd end with an excerpt from my novella 'Dancing With Fate', which is 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.


EXCERPT FROM DANCING WITH FATE

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.



Dancing With Fate is
Available from Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/53249
Also available from Amazon in Kindle Version and Paperback




3 comments:

Lynne Garner said...

This place sounds fantastic and I can see how it would fuel the imagination of a writer. Thanks for sharing.

Kathleen Jones said...

lovely ghost stories!

Hywela Lyn said...

Hi Lynne and Kathleen, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Nanteos Mansion is a fantastic place and, indeed, very inspiring!