Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Much Haunted Aberglasney

Many stories abound of haunted houses of all kinds – from ordinary terraced dwellings in unremarkable streets through to grand mansions and palaces. I have written about quite a few of them myself.

But, engaged as I currently am on writing a novel that includes a frighteningly haunted garden, I was interested to discover where such places exist in real life. It turns out there are many of them, all over the world.

So for today’s haunted voyage of discovery, let’s visit historic Aberglasney House and Gardens in Llangathen near Carmarthen in Wales.
The house itself is positioned at the grand end of the scale and the area it stands in has known some gruesome battles, including one particularly bloody conflict in 1257. Even the surrounding fields have names which hark back to their violent past – Ca Tranc (Field of Vengeance) and Cae’r Ochain (Groaning Field).

It is believed that a certain Bishop Rudd acquired the estate of Aberglasney in around 1600, during the final years of the reign of Elizabeth I. For the next 110 y ears, the house stayed in his family before being sold to the Dyer family in 1710, followed by another sale in 1798. This pattern continued until troops occupied it during World War II. Ten years after the war ended, the estate was split up and the house and home farm were bought by a local man called David Charles. Sadly he couldn’t maintain the building and the place was left to fall into decay and dereliction.
 Then, it was bought in 1995 and is being fully restored to its former glory by the Aberglasney Restoration Trust.

As far as the house’s ghosts are concerned, life appears to have gone on largely ignored by them. They had other agendas and there are reputed to be between 90 and 130 spectral beings.

In the 1630s, the first of a series of reports of ghostly happenings tells of a maid who saw five candles floating around, apparently of their own accord, in a newly plastered ‘blue room’. The next day, five maidservants were found dead in their beds. A stove left burning to dry the plaster had asphyxiated them while they slept.

To this day, this is one of the most active rooms in the house as far as ghostly sightings and experiences are concerned. Visitors have been touched, felt someone brushing past them and have generally been spooked by their time in that place. In the 1930s, a worker, clearing ivy from the window of that room almost fell off his ladder. He swore he saw five girls in old fashioned dress peering out at him. The house was empty and derelict at the time. Could it be that the ghosts of the five dead maidservants had made an appearance?

An East India Company surgeon, Thomas Phillips, who owned the house in 1803, has appeared to gardeners, servants and tradespeople over the years and has become more active recently when tour guides have heard his ghostly footsteps.

Another ghostly encounter has been with a young servant girl who stands in the corner of the basement, apparently cooking.

With ongoing restoration work, it seems the ghosts of Aberglasney have much to occupy them.

So, there is plenty to interest the ghost hunter inside the house, but what of outside? 

Aberglasney boasts some of the finest gardens in the country and a visit there in summer is well worth it. The Cloister Garden, Ninfarium, Asiatic Garden, Sunken Garden, Kitchen Garden, Bishop Rudd’s Garden and more are all planted with an abundance of beauty.

And then we come to Pigeon House Wood, at the rear of the building. It too is beautifully designed. Planted with deciduous trees, it offers a peaceful walk. But as visitors descend the earthen path, some have experienced an increasing sense of unease which intensifies until at the edge of the wood, it morphs into sudden fear and an icy coldness. So often was this reported that a reputable medium was consulted in 1999. She reported that a fugitive, on the run, had been chased through this wood and was shot, right at the point where those affected by the phenomenon had felt it most. Evidently meeting such a violent and sudden end released his emotions which were absorbed by the earth around him.

I have included some haunted gardens in my books so far – Linden Manor being one. It is a theme I am drawn to and, right now I am returning to it. Watch this space…

You can find out more about the glorious Aberglasney estate here

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Want to Buy Your Own Haunted Castle?

Well, if you have a few million stashed away somewhere, it could be yours.

Set in magnificent countryside in Fife, Scotland, Earlshall Castle is said to be home to at least two ghosts - from opposite ends of the social spectrum.

One is a young servant girl, the other one of the castle's former owners. Variously thought to be either the spectre of Sir William Bruce, but far more likely to be the ghost of his grandson, known as 'Bloody Bruce' (Sir Andrew Bruce), this spook haunts his old bedroom. Heavy footsteps on the staircase announce his presence.

There are also reports of the ghost of an old woman in the bedroom used by Mary, Queen of Scots. A depression on a bed - as of someone having recently lain there, when no one had - and a knight on horseback wearing full armour has been seen in the grounds. 

The castle dates from 1546 when it was built on the instructions of the aforementioned Sir William,who is probably best known as one of the few earls to fight at the Battle of Flodden and survive. It stands four storeys high and has unusually large windows. Most castle from this period had narrow windows, sufficient to let in light but small enough to deter most stray arrows and other missiles.

 It has always been a private home although it was abandoned during the nineteenth century and left to decay. It was finally restored in 1891 on the instructions of R.W.R. McKenzie who owned a nearby cotton mill. Since then it has changed hands a number of times but is now on the market again.

With its eight reception rooms, three cottages, ten bedrooms and thirty four acres of land, you could move the entire family in and never have to see each other for weeks on end!

 Of course, you would have to share all that space with the resident ghosts who don't look to be moving out anytime soon. 'Bloody Bruce' earned his nickname for chopping off the hands and then head of the Covenanter, Richard Cameron in battle. He then took the body parts back to Edinburgh with him. Take care not to offend him. Even in the afterlife you wouldn't want to earn his vengeance.

Situated close to St Andrews, you could host golfing parties or spend many hours wandering the exquisite parkland and gardens designed by Sir Robert Lorimer in the 1890s. You could even find yourself retracing the steps of Mary, Queen of Scots or of her son, James VI of Scotland/James 1 of England who also spent time here.

Described as being 'magical' by its current owner who now spends much of his time in Holland, the asking price is allegedly a cool £5 million (Savills). So, save up those pennies now and it could be yours! Oh, and please be nice to the ghosts - for your own peace of mind.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Waking the Ancients is Here!

Just published!

 "Catherine Cavendish can unfailingly be counted on to scare readers senseless as simultaneously we find ourselves totally engrossed with her realistic characters." - The Haunted Reading Room

Legacy In Death

Egypt, 1908

University student Lizzie Charters accompanies her mentor, Dr. Emeryk Quintillus, on the archeological dig to uncover Cleopatra’s tomb. Her presence is required for a ceremony conducted by the renowned professor to resurrect Cleopatra’s spirit—inside Lizzie’s body. Quintillus’s success is short-lived, as the Queen of the Nile dies soon after inhabiting her host, leaving Lizzie’s soul adrift . . . 

Vienna, 2018

Paula Bancroft’s husband just leased Villa Dürnstein, an estate once owned by Dr. Quintillus. Within the mansion are several paintings and numerous volumes dedicated to Cleopatra. But the archeologist’s interest in the Egyptian empress deviated from scholarly into supernatural, infusing the very foundations of his home with his dark fanaticism. And as inexplicable manifestations rattle Paula’s senses, threatening her very sanity, she uncovers the link between the villa, Quintillus, and a woman named Lizzie Charters.

And a ritual of dark magic that will consume her soul . . .

From the beginning:
The man looked down at his scattered ashes. “I am growing tired of waiting. When will I be free of this prison?”
“Soon.” The woman moved away in that fluid, ethereal manner of hers. Her scarlet gown flowed around her. An armlet shaped in the goddess Isis’s symbol—a coiled cobra—gleamed. Heavy black kohl rimmed her eyes, emphasizing the deep violet of her irises, while her long, black hair, set in many tight braids, reached her waist. “You must be patient,” the woman said. “I told you I would help you get what you desire.”
“But that isn’t possible. She is back in her body. Back in her tomb.”
“All is possible. I have the power. Haven’t I proved it? Aren’t you the proof of it?”
“I still don’t live.”
“Your spirit lives.”
“My spirit cannot touch her.”
“But it can touch her spirit. Mate with her spirit if you so desire.”
“And why would you do this for me?”
 “My revenge is incomplete. My murdering sister rests while I am forced to wander in spirit with no substance of my own.”
“And how will it be done? I am in your hands. This is not comfortable for me. I am always in control.”
The woman threw back her head and laughed, showing black, rotten teeth. Stinking, no doubt, if he could smell anything.
You have not been in control for a long time. The god I serve is Set, and he is in control. He will come and he will work through me. More powerful this time, for Sekhmet will bring him.”
“And I will have my queen?”
“You will have her.”
“She will be in the one who is here now?”
 “That is to be determined.”
“But this one is not of the blood.”
“She will not be possessed, but transformed. We do not need a blood relative.”
“That has been tried before. And failed.”
“The rules were not properly followed. You cannot possess all of her. You have seen that. The gods will not allow it. Her spirit must be divided. Some of it must remain with her body—and lie cold in her tomb. Waiting. Always waiting. In that way, the gods are appeased and my price is also exacted.”
“So part of my queen will still wander, looking for her lover, but enough of her spirit will be released to come to me.”
 “Now you understand. You will have all that you desire, and my revenge will not be compromised.”
“And I can be with her. For all time.”
The woman didn’t answer. She gave the merest hint of a smile and passed on.
In his world of shadows, Dr. Emeryk Quintillus waited.
(Copyright © 2018 Catherine Cavendish
All rights reserved)  

You can find Waking the Ancients here:

Catch my blog tour featuring true stories, myths and legends from Vienna and Egypt and beyond...

February 24th 2018 - The Scary Reviews In The Footsteps of Ghosts

April 23rd 2018 - Oh, For the Hook of a Book The Curse of Gleichenberg Castle 

April 24th 2018 - Silver Dagger Book Tours Sekhmet - The Goddess Who was No Pussycat!

April 24th 2018 - Shehanne Moore Castle of the Thousand Passions 

April 25th 2018 John Palisano The White Lady of Porcia Castle

April 26th 2018 - JG Faherty The Ghosts of Schloss Therasburg

April 27th 2018 - Stuart R. West - Twisted Tales from Tornado Alley

The Wurmbrand-Stuppach Curse

April 29th 2018 - Susan Roebuck The Castle of Unrequited Love

May 1st 2018 - Frazer Lee Set- God of Chaos, Friend of the Dead

May 3rd 2018 - Russell R James Horus the Sky God

May 4th 2018 - Hunter Shea The Pedlar and the Devil

May 9th 2018 - JH Moncrieff The Woman in Black of St. Veit, and the Ghost of Paracelsus

May 9th 2018 - Ink Heist The Eagle and the Serpent - The Curse of the Hapsburgs