Magic Carpet Journals
Ghosts and Legends in Wales - Skirrid Inn
Hunting for haunted places takes us to Abergavenny to the Skirrid Inn reputed to be Wales most haunted inn
Story and pictures by M. Maxine George
We continued driving through the countryside to Abergavenny. Soon the bus stopped in front of a rather plain old brown-stone building with a cobblestone courtyard. A sign hanging out front proclaimed it to be the Skirrid Inn. Its 900 year history has been particularly bloody. Trials by the circuit judges traveling throughout the country were held there. The earliest known record shows two brothers, James and John Crowther were tried there in 1110. John was convicted of stealing sheep and sentenced to hang. James was convicted of robbery with violence and sentenced to nine months in prison. Prisoners awaiting trial or punishment were left in a small room off a landing on the stairs.
Swift justice took place when the convicted criminals were hanged from a rafter in that same stairwell. Over 180 hangings are believed to have taken place there. The grooves and scrapes can still be seen where the hanging rope bit into the rafter. The last hanging was in the time of Cromwell, also for the crime of sheep stealing.
In those days, superstition was rampant. According to their brochure, the Innkeeper would pour a jug of ale and set it upon the mantelpiece for "His Satanic Majesty - the devil himself,” to join the riotous crowd in the Alehouse. Also after the last guests left for the night, the Innkeeper would set a Pwca ( a Welsh fairy) on the doorstep to ward off evil or mischievous spirits during the night. I didn't think to ask Geoff and Sharon Fiddler, the present Innkeepers, if they still kept to those traditions.
Owain Glyndwr is said to have rallied his troops for the march on Pontrilas, from a set of mounting steps in the forecourt of Skirrid Inn. Thus began the uprising of the Welsh people against English rule, in about the year 1400. Owain Glyndwr is a legendary figure in Welsh history and is highly revered throughout the country to this day; in fact he is considered a national figure on a par with the famous King Arthur.
We climbed the ancient stairs to tour the second floor, where the courtroom is believed to have been. The stairs are well worn from many feet having trod them over the past nine hundred years. The room, once used for trials, has now been divided into two bedrooms, each used for guests wishing to stay the night. Each of the rooms has a view of Skirrid Mountain. They are booked many weekends in advance, according to Sharon Fiddler.
Sharon also told us that room “2” is thought to be the most haunted. One ghost is believed to be a former landlady named Fanny Price. A third small bedroom claims a ghost, possibly Fanny. The room suddenly turns cold; there is a distinct scent of lavender; and a rocking chair all proclaiming her presence in the room that was once hers. She died there in 1875 at 35 years of age, probably of consumption. She is buried just a few steps down the road at the local church graveyard, close enough to wander back to the Skirrid Inn when she feels the need to keep an eye on the place.
One young guest chose to have a leisurely bath in a bathroom on the second floor. The terrified lady came screaming out of her bath and down the stairs, in her all-together, dripping wet, screaming repeatedly, “She tried to drown me! She tried to drown me!”
The Inn has been the focus of much research into the paranormal activity said to take place within its walls. It is considered to be Wales’s most haunted inn. It has been featured on TV's Extreme Ghost Stories and also on Most Haunted with Yvette Fielding and many film clips of Skirrid Inn can be found on You Tube also.
The front door, carbon dated to around 1500 years old, is testament to the age of Skirrid Inn.
For a spooky night, this might be the place to stay!
Raglan Castle is the next story in our quest for ghosts and legends in Wales
Story and pictures by M. Maxine George
Last Updated on September 14, 2012 by M. Maxine George editor.
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