Monday, October 1, 2012

Carew Castle...Where Things Really DO go Bump in the Night...

In keeping with the spirit of Halloween... I dedicate this month's blogs to ghosts that endlessly wander, and things that go bump in the night...

And we'll start with Carew Castle, Pembrokeshire, Wales...

A bit of history....

Carew Castle. engraving by William Miller

This castle, overlooking Carew inlet, had its origins in a stone keep, built around the year 1100 by Gerald de Windsor. The castle passed from Gerald to his son William who took the name “De Carew.” Eventually, the castle landed in the hands of Edmund Carew who fell on hard times and mortgaged the Castle. In 1480, Sir Rhys ap Thomas moved in. Henry Tudor knighted Sir Rhys and made him Governor of Wales. Rhys died in 1525.

Now for the dark of the night...bumpy things. 

Enter Nest, the beautiful daughter of Rhys ap Tewdwr, Prince of Deheubarth. Things were fine for a time, but then, in the year 1095, the Normans invaded Wales. The Norman's  killed Nest's father. A man named William Rufus took her hostage, and at the tender age of fifteen, Nest became the mistress of Henry, William’s younger brother. At the age of seventeen, she gave birth to Henry’s son.

The story doesn’t end there. You see, things got a little awkward when Henry agreed to marry Matilda. Nest had to go. So, in true English style of the times, Henry sent his mistress back to Wales, where he arranged for her to marry Gerald de Windsor, constable of Pembroke Castle. But you needn’t grieve for the Welsh princess. For Nest fell deeply, madly, in love with Gerald.

Ah—but then enters, the dark force. Her cousin, Owain ap Cadwgan, is instantly smitten by his cousin’s beauty. At his first diabolical opportunity, he promptly abducts her and keeps her locked away for quite some time. 

Years later, Nest returns to Gerald, after--according to rumor--giving birth to two children fathered by Owain. Running true to his Norman nature, Gerald killed Owain and thus avenged his wife. In the arms of her true-love, Nest would know joy once again. Until death landed at her doorstep and took Gerald away.

Sometime after his death, Nest married again. This time, she married Stephen Castellan of Cardigan and gave birth to one or more children.

Now that you have that background, we introduce the “things that go bump.” 

First is the frequent sighting of the “White Lady.” Believed to be Nest, this spirit drifts from room to room at Carew Castle, awaiting the return of Gerald, her beloved. One report even claims that she appeared in a photograph, taken on a children’s visit to the castle.

Let’s do one more haunting that takes place at this same edifice. 

Sir Roland Rhys, a former pirate captain, lived in Carew castle during the 17th century. Rumor has it that Sir Roland’s pet Barbary Ape killed him. During his mortality, the ill-tempered Rhys would cast dispersions, insults and mock his guests with taunts and laughter. The ape, named Satan, would join in the fun. Until...

Sir Roland, a heavy drinker, and angered by his son’s pursuit of a Flemish tradesman’s daughter, called upon said tradesman to deliver his rent. Alas, the poor man only had half of it. Enraged, Rhys loosed the chains of his ape. He goaded the beast into mauling the tradesman near to death. In the nick of time, a servant rescued the man and hid him away to await the morning. Yet, before dawn approached, they heard violent cries and mad laughter coming from the dining hall. They rushed to the hall, found Rhys dead, with his throat gashed out, and the ape burning in the fireplace. Some say Rhys’ and his ape haunt Carew to this day. One hears footsteps, and sees objects that seemingly hurl themselves inside the castle. Mad cackling laughter, assigned to the ape, echoes throughout the halls.

Carew Castle, Pembrokeshire, Wales

Castle Carew, a lovely place to visit, but don’t stay overly long... and don't go at night...

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