The Devil’s Tree, Llanrhos
The following account entitled ‘The Devil’s Tree by Eglwys Rhos’ appeared in Elias Owen’s ‘Welsh Folk-lore’ (1887). ‘At the corner of the first turning after passing the village of Llanrhos*, on the left hand side, is a withered oak tree, called by the natives of those parts the Devil’s Tree, and it was thought to be haunted, and therefore the young and timid were afraid to pass it of a dark night.
The Rev. W. Arthur Jones, late Curate of the parish, told me that his horse was in the habit of shying whenever it came opposite this blighted tree, and his servant accounted for this by saying that the horse saw something there which was invisible to the sight of man. Be this as it may, the tree has an uncanny appearance and a bad reputation, which some years ago was greatly increased by an occurrence that happened there to Cadwaladr Williams, a shoemaker, who lived at Llansantffraid Glan Conway.
Cadwaladr was in the habit of carrying his work home to Llandudno to his customers every Saturday night in a wallet, and with the money which they paid him he bought eatables for the coming week, and carried shoes to be patched in one end of the wallet, and groceries, etc., in the other end, and, by adjusting the wallet he balanced it, and carried it, over his shoulders, home again.
This shoemaker sometimes refreshed himself too freely before starting homewards from Llandudno, and he was in the habit of turning into the public house at Llanrhos to gain courage to pass the Devil’s Tree.
One Saturday night, instead of quietly passing this tree on the other side, he walked fearlessly up to it, and defied the Evil One to appear if he were there. No sooner had he uttered the defiant words than something fell from the tree, and lit upon his shoulders, and grasped poor Cadwaladr’s neck with a grip of iron. He fought with the incubus savagely to get rid of it, but all his exertions were in vain, and so he was obliged to proceed on his journey with this fearful thing clinging to him, which became heavier and heavier every step he took. At last, thoroughly exhausted, he came to Towyn, and, more dead than alive, he reached a friend’s door and knocked, and oh, what pleasure, before the door was opened the weight on his back had gone, but his friend knew who it was that Cadwaladr had carried from the Devil’s Tree.’
* The village of Llanrhos is also known as Eglwys Rhos.