Wales is a country steeped in history and folklore – and Mid Wales is no exception!
And with such a long history comes tales of things that go bump in the night. Here’s a roundup of all the historical haunted places in Mid Wales you can visit to feel those shivers down your spine!
Baskerville Hall – formerly known as Clyro Court – is a Jacobean-Renaissance style manor house situated near the popular literary town of Hay-On-Wye. Its most well known for being the likely namesake of that popular Sherlock Holmes story The Hound of the Baskervilles. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a family friend and regular visitor.
Conan Doyle may have been even further inspired by a famous local ghost story. Legend says the restless ghost of Sir Thomas Vaughan aka Black Vaughan was trapped in a silver snuffbox at the bottom of Hergest Pool near the hall by twelve priests. While alive, Sir Thomas had a black dog. The dog is said to haunt generations of the Vaughan family ever since, appearing as a death omen. Sound familiar?
Hidden in the hills in the southernmost parts of Powys is the neo-Gothic Craig-Y-Nos Castle. Its most well known as being the home of Victorian singer Adelina Patti and her partner the tenor Ernesto Nicolini. After a 20th century spell as a TB sanatorium for children, its now a hotel playing host to regular ghost hunts.
Of all the historic places on this list, this has the reputation of being one of the most haunted places in Mid Wales. Patti and Nicolini have apparently refused to move on, and there are regular reports of singing heard in the theatre. Perhaps even more chillingly, the laughter of children is heard, a spooky reminder of the number of children who died here.
At the remote Devil’s Bridge you will find the picturesque sight of the River Rheidol crashing through a deep gorge, leaving waterfalls in its wake, topped by three historic bridges. But the famous story of how the original bridge came to be has a devilish twist…
It is said that hundreds of years ago a woman lost her cow. Somehow it had ended up on the other side of the gorge, and there was no way to reach it. At that point the Devil himself appeared and told her that he would build a bridge on one condition – that the soul of the first to pass over it would be his. The lady agreed and the bridge was built. But she tricked the devil and sent her dog across the bridge in front of her, leaving her soul intact.
The literary town of Hay-on-Wye is home to its very own castle. Once a great medieval stronghold, it has been damaged during various wars and skirmishes. Luckily it is now in the hands of a charitable trust and is slowly being restored.
Hay Castle was first built by the Norman lord, William de Braose, and his wife Matilda de Braose. The story goes that she made a deal with the Devil and thus the castle was built in a single night. Although she died at Corfe Castle in Dorset (starved to death at the hands of King John) it is here that her ghost is said to roam.
The Judges Lodging is a really unique museum situated in the border town of Presteigne. There are very few places left where you can wonder through a former Shire Hall, complete with courtroom and original furnishings. The lighting is even still powered by gas!
As a place where people were sentenced to death there was bound to be ghosts here! Dark shadows are seen all over the building. In the basement, visitors have reported hearing strange growling and cell doors banging. I must admit when I visited the basement kitchen area freaked me out the most. I had the most distinct feeling I was being watched…
Given the horrible history of workhouses, its no surprise one features on this list. Llanfyllin Union Workhouse is the only former workhouse in Wales now open to the public. Its a great example of of a workhouse built under the New Poor Law of 1834, and visitors can visit the onsite museum to learn more.
The workhouse regularly plays host to paranormal investigations. During my research for this post I was unable to find any significant or stand out stories relating to the spirits that haunt this place, but its a regular stop for all the paranormal TV shows, so there must be something here!
Llywernog Silver Lead Mine – also known as the Silver Mountain Experience – is a 250 year old Victorian mine turned visitor attraction, complete with mining museum, escape rooms and underground guided tours. I visited here on various school trips and thoroughly enjoyed it – but back then I wasn’t aware its one of the most haunted places in Mid Wales!
A paranormal investigation team who regularly host events at the mine claim to have heard voices, footsteps and even captured a ghost speaking using a recording device. Activity is rife both above and below ground, and there are lots of lots of captured images that make you think twice.
Maesmawr Hall is an historic timber-framed country house situated near Caersws, halfway between Llanidloes and Newtown. Its thought to have been built in the early eighteenth century, and has been owned by several prominent local people during its history, including the Pryce-Jones family and the Davies sisters. Nowadays it functions as a hotel.
Given the fact there is an old Roman road in the vicinity of the hotel, perhaps its no surprise that ghostly marching Roman legionnaires have been seen by guests. Several other spectres have been sighted, but the most famous is that of half man, half beast Robin Drwg (translates as Bad Robin). It is said he is the ghost that liked to take the form of a bull that seven priests cast into the waters of a nearby lake.
Beautiful Nanteos just outside the coastal town of Aberystwyth is a high-class hotel where you can immerse yourself in years and years of history. This Georgian mansion was home to the Powell family, who lived here for over 200 years.
Nanteos is also famous for being the original home of the Nanteos Cup, a medieval cup which some claim to be the Holy Grail. Today, you can view this cup by visiting the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth.
Nanteos is said to have five ghosts – a grey lady (thought to be one Miss Corbett) who appears brandishing a candelabra when a member of the family is about to die; a phantom horse and carriage; the ghost of the family harpist whose music can still be heard; Elizabeth Powell aka ‘the jewel lady’ who hid her jewels in her final hours; and a phantom huntsman who appears in the grounds.
Perched above the town of Welshpool, Powis Castle began life as the medieval fortress of the Princes of Powys. It then became the ancestral home of the Herbert and Clive families. Today, its the most visited National Trust property in Wales, full of treasures.
The famous ghost story associated with the castle says an elderly woman seeking work stayed at the castle. She was perplexed as to why she was put in one of the best bedrooms, but in the middle of the night a ghostly figure of a man entered the room and told her to follow him.
In another room the spirit is said to have lifted one of the floorboards, revealing a locked chest. The ghost then showed her where the key was hidden. He then instructed her to send everything to the Earl, who was in London. As a reward, the lady was looked after for the rest of her days.
Montgomery is the smallest county town in England and Wales. It may be a small town, but it has a big history! There is some great Georgian architecture, alongside the imposing medieval castle. But the most interesting spot can be found in the graveyard of the local church, St Nicholas’.
The Robbers Grave is a cursed place where no grass is said to grow. A plasterer from Wrexham was falsely accused by a local man of robbery, and was sentenced to death. At the execution the plasterer declared his innocence and said that the grass would not grow on his grave for a hundred years as a sign he was not guilty.
Tretower Court is a medieval fortified manor house where you truly feel like you are stepping back in time. It was the creation of Sir Roger Vaughan and his descendants. During the Wars of the Roses Sir Roger became one of the most powerful men in Wales – and Tretower reflected this. Nowadays you can wonder the great hall which is set for a 15th century feast.
Tretower Court is supposedly haunted by a White Lady (yes, that classic ghost!) who wonders along the balcony and across the courtyard. Some claim that this could be the ghost of Roger Vaughan’s wife, waiting for him to come home. Unfortunately, he never did.
There’s a whole host of historical haunted places in Mid Wales to explore – which one do you want to visit first? Let us know in the comments below!