Monday, October 8, 2012

The Haunting of Sker House

Neath Abbey

The time? Halloween night. The place? Celt Central, the land of the druids, the very area the celebrated and near mythical King Arthur may have once hung out. Ogres, giants, ghosts, faeries, (and who knows what else) cavorted about in the inky black darkness.... 

This scenario brings to mind a guy from Missouri that once worked with my husband, a police officer at the time. The man said there were three things one never should mess with:  The mafia, the IRS, and the unknown.  
Anyway... On this particular night, three teenage adventurists tempted fate and leaped headlong into breaking the third know...the one about messing with the Unknown?

While in Neath Abbey, Porthcawl, Wales, the teens called upon the spirits of the dead, using a glass and scraps of paper to create a homemade Ouija Board. They gathered around a stone at Rest Bay, reputed to be the final resting place of Elizabeth, the Maid of Sker, who--according to local parable--died of a broken heart after her father denied the desire to marry the man of her dreams.

By the light of their battery-operated torch, our intrepid trio set up their makeshift séance. They placed the paper scraps, depicting the letters of the alphabet and the words ‘yes’ and ‘no,’ atop the homemade board. Their fingers rested lightly on the glass as they began their spiritual interrogation. Once the inquiry began, the glass moved. All allegations as to intentional pushing where vigorously denied. The moment the board answered their questions intelligently, their nerves unraveled. The valiant trio broke and ran to the sanctuary of a nearby house. Not necessarily the facts, but a good story from the BBC nonetheless.

The Sker House, built in the twelfth century by monks, is a large medieval residence on the windswept coast near Porthcawl in Mid Glamorgan, and is the reputed home of the Maid of Sker.

RD Blackmore, a Victorian novelist put Sker House on the map, with his book entitled, “The Maid of Sker.” The townsfolk described Elizabeth Williams, the maid in question and daughter of Isaac Williams, as tall, beautiful, and one who loved to dance. In the town hall of Kenfig, during the Festival Gwyl Mabsant, commemorating Saint Mary Magdalen, the harpist, Thomas Evans of Newton Nottage, laid his eyes on Elizabeth. By the next morning, the couple had um... savored each other’s talents. Upon hearing of the lover’s tryst, her furious father took matters into his own hands. After all, a mere carpenter, regardless of talent at the harp could not possibly marry a Gentleman Farmer’s daughter. 

Isaac locked his daughter inside her bedroom preventing escape and any further liaison with Evans. Eventually, he arranged for her to marry Mr. Kirkhouse of Neath. But Elizabeth just couldn't forget William Evans or the love they shared. She would seek any occasion to hear him play and throw caution to the wind in order to meet with him. Her husband discovered them together on numerous occasions, causing additional conflict in an already strained relationship. Nine years later Elizabeth died. Those who knew her best attributed her death to a broken heart.

Now for the chilling parts of the tale. Witnesses aplenty have reported an unearthly, high-pitched screech, alongside frightening wails and screams. Dark shadows have claimed the very room in which Isaac imprisoned his daughter. Some report a feeling of dread and unease, while others become physically ill. Then we have “the Presence.” This evil manifestation forces some to turn around and flee the place altogether.

You might want to visit Sker for your own experience. Perhaps you too can add to the haunting tales, and feel for yourself the aurora evil that permeates the home.

Oh, and do enjoy Samhain, er... All Hallows Eve, hmm... this season of Halloween. Perhaps you too can make the acquaintance of a less then substantial companion that will ease you into a dreamless slumber, from which there is no awakening. 


1 comment:

  1. So sweet!!! Ghosts, castles, mischief oh my!