Posted on: June 13, 2013

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Bodelwyddan Castle is not so much a castle in the traditional sense, as a solid country house with battlements, (and a large chess set in the courtyard). It was built around 1460 as a manor house for the Humphreys family, although it is rumoured that there was a house on the site before that. Little is known in detail about its history, as most of the house records were destroyed in a fire. We do know that it was extensively renovated between 1850 and 1852 by the then owner, Sir John Hay Williams, the 2nd Baronet. The house very much has a feel of a very comfortable Victorian/Edwardian dwelling. The rooms are elegant and plush, although quite dark in some places, perhaps more suited to candlelight than daylight. It is the sort of place where you can imagine ladies in long gowns staring wistfully out of the windows, and men in starched shirts booming out lugubrious songs, whilst standing beside the piano clutching a cigar and a glass of port.

During World War One the house was used as a convalescence home, and in the grounds you can still see the trenches which were dug in the grass so that the men could practice warfare. From 1920 until 1982 it was a school for posh gels, and in one of the upstairs rooms there is an exhibition detailing the lives the girls would have had over the decades. It’s all very Enid Blyton, and you can almost hear the hearty cries of “absolutely spiffing midnight feast, Angela!” Since 1982 the house has been a museum for fine art.

The house is stuffed with ghosts, and because of the scarcity of records about the place, it’s not often clear who they are. The biggest mystery about the house is the case of the human bones, which were found in a wall close to a chimney in 1829 (we know about this because Sir John recorded it in his diary). The bones were put back and resealed, but no one knows who they belonged to. When ‘Most Haunted’ visited here, the psychic Derek Acorah asserted that the bones were that of a woman, and she had been killed around 1649/50, probably coshed and then strangled by her husband for committing adultery.

The other ghosts number a soldier in one of the galleries. A large dog, possibly an Irish wolfhound, has been seen in the library. A woman in Victorian dress haunts the absolutely beautiful Sculpture Gallery. Plus there is a Blue Lady in a mob-cap seen in the tea-rooms and kitchen, where she has been heard rattling the crockery.

The cellar has a very dubious atmosphere. In his book ‘The Hangman, The Hound And Other Hauntings’, Thomas Corum Caldas writes there is a ghost down here who likes to strangle visitors. Medium David Wells (also on ‘Most Haunted’) picked up on this unsavoury character, but said that he liked to bludgeon people, and that he’s not quite the full shilling. Whether he’s into strangling or bludgeoning, it’s probably best to give him a wide berth.

Bodelwyddan is a lovely house to visit, though to get the most out of it I recommend you get an audio handset and go round at your own speed, than in a tour group.



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