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The Great Giant of Henllys

The original tale first appeared in The Athenaeum, published in 1847, and tells how a tyrannous figure became even more fearsome as a ghost after he had died. Three brave priests finally exorcise the ghost with a mix of magic and prayer.

Some time in the eighteenth century, a rich and powerful lord lived on the banks of the river Wye. He was an evil tyrant, and became known locally as 'The Great Giant of Henllys' because of his wickedness.

When he died there was great rejoicing and celebration throughout the surrounding area, but only a few weeks after his death, he returned to the dark lanes and countryside in demonic form. Soon nobody would go out of doors after the sun had slipped past the horizon for fear of the monster, who was so terrible he could frighten people to death in the dark and lonely lanes.

Eventually it was decided that the demon must be laid to rest, three clergymen volunteered for the task, and in the small hours of a dark moonless night they gathered within the confines of Henllys church to exorcise the spirit. One of the clergymen drew a chalk circle on the floor in front of the altar, they sat within its confines, each with a lighted candle, and started to pray.

Suddenly a gigantic and terrible form appeared in the church, and rushed down the aisles towards them. Rearing up it crashed against the side of the circle as if it had hit an iron wall.

They continued to pray, but the roaring of the monster, and its beating on the outside of the circle caused one mans nerve to fail, and his candle went out.

They still continued to pray, and then the giant appeared as an enormous lion, and then a raging bull, then it seemed as if a giant wave was flooding the church, and the West wall looked like it was crashing down upon them. A second priest lost heart at this turmoil and his candle went out, but still the third priest prayed even though his own candle was now nothing but a low flickering flame.

Suddenly the giant appeared in his mortal form, a dark shade of his earthly appearance. They asked him why he had appeared in such terrible manifestations. He replied that he was a bad man, but now, as a devil, he was much worse.

He vanished in a flash of fire and the last of the candles burned up, they continued to pray and their fortitude began to have an effect, the giant appeared in smaller and smaller forms until he was only a fly. Quickly they trapped the fly in a tobacco box they had brought with them and bound it tightly. They then took the box, weighted it down, and threw it into Llynwyn Pool for the sum of ninety-nine years, or nine hundred and ninety nine years depending on which you prefer.

Whenever there is dredging in Llynwyn Pool they are sure not to disturb a solitary tobacco box, in case they release the troublesome spirit of the Great Giant of Henllys.



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