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Gwydir Castle

Gwydir Castle is nestled in the Vale of Conwy in North Wales, and it has a long and fantastic history. The first recorded owner was Howell ap Coetmor, whose family members are recorded as having fought at the battles of Poitiers (1356), Shrewsbury (1402) and Agincourt (1415). It has also been the ancestral home of the Wynn baronets who were descendants of the Kings and Princes of Gwynedd, and a significant Welsh family during the Tudor and Stuart periods. The Wynn’s rebuilt the house in the 1490’s. Gwydir Castle is now a privately owned country hotel, and it is purportedly one of the most haunted houses in Wales.

The alleged ghosts at Gwydir Castle are as follows:

1. ‘The Grey/White Lady’ is thought to be the ghost of a servant girl who was murdered after becoming pregnant during a romance with one of the lords of the manor. She has been seen on the second floor in the north wing and along the corridor between the Hall of Meredith and the Great Chamber. The body of the murdered girl was allegedly hidden in a wall space beside a chimney breast (a priest hole). The presence of this apparition is said to be accompanied by the stench of decaying flesh (like the smell that would have been emanating as the girl’s body decomposed in the wall). This ghost has not been seen for some time, but the putrid smell can still be encountered sometimes, and always in the same part of the corridor. Some people have also thought that they were being tapped on the shoulder in this corridor, and this was always accompanied by a big drop in temperature. It is not clear whether the murderer was the first or fifth Wynn baronet. It is said that the fifth baronet confessed to a murder committed at Gwydir during his youth, on his deathbed in the mid 17th Century. Although, the first baronet (1553-1627) is also a likely suspect. He had the reputation as a local tyrant, and he was already established in local folklore when Thomas Pennant visited and wrote about the area in the 1770’s. It is said that the spirit of the first baronet is trapped beneath the waterfall known as ‘Swallow Falls’ near Betws-y-Coed, forever to be purged, purified and spat upon for his evil deeds.

2. The ghost of a monk has been reported, said to have been trapped in a tunnel from a secret room.

3. The ghost of Sir John Wynn is thought to haunt a spiral staircase that leads from the Solar Hall to the Great Chamber. There have been several accounts of this apparition throughout the years. He wears a tall black hat and a ruff, and has been seen walking through a wall where a door once stood.

4. Children have been heard crying.

5. A phantom dog has frequently been seen.

6. A procession has been seen at night on the Great Terrace near Saint John’s Arch.

Gwydir Castle was last purchased in 1994 by Peter Welford and his wife Judy Corbett. They started a programme of restoration for the house, with authenticity being the main consideration. Judy Corbett has written a book of this recent history of the house entitled ‘Castles in the Air’.

Simon Topham

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