NIA JONES profiles the haunted goings-on at Craig y Nos, a Victorian Gothic mansion in Wales reputed to be gripped by paranormal activity
Craig y Nôs Castle is set in the stunning Brecon Beacons National Park, the river Tawe flows peacefully alongside its grounds. Apart from the idyllic setting Craig y Nos has a reputation for being one of the most haunted mansions in the country, with some past residents still refusing to vacate the premises.
Built in 1842 (originally called ‘Bryn Melin’) by the allegedly cursed Captain Powell, the castle was eventually sold to the Morgan family in 1875. Purchased in 1878 by world renowned Italian soprano Adelina Patti and renamed Craig y Nos (“Rock of the Night”) the house was extended and a grand theatre was added for private concerts. Marrying three times Adelina was a flamboyant, generous yet fiery woman, throwing lavish parties at her home for the fashionable and famous. The singer also made 30 gramophone recordings of her performing operatic songs, her most famous being ‘Home Sweet Home’. Adelina died at her beloved Craig y Nôs in 1919 after a fall downstairs; her body embalmed and kept in the cellar. Her wish was to be buried next to her favourite composer Gioachino Rossini in Paris. Sadly, unknown to the diva Rossini’s remains were relocated to Florence in 1887 by the Italian government, so Adelina lies at Pere la Chaise Cemetery all alone.
Craig y Nos has certainly had many individuals live and die within its walls.From 1920 to 1960 the property became a TB sanatorium and hospital, mostly for children. The residents of the sanatorium reported many close encounters with the supposed ghost of Adelina Patti, even in the daytime. Nicknamed The White Lady she was seen walking up and down the staircase that lead to the stage of the theatre. When quiet they would hear her ghostly operatic arias echoing through the corridors, she would also materialise in the sanatorium wards, at the foot of the children’s beds. They also witnessed a malevolent lady dressed in black lurking near the cellar staircase.
Supernatural occurrences have been widely reported over the years by staff and visitors at Craig y Nos. Experienced frequently are voices and the laughter of children, unexplained noises and singing, shuffling footsteps on staircases, full body apparitions and dark shadow figures. Parts of the castle have oppressive atmospheres, poltergeist activity seems to be in abundance and many say they experienced feeling feverish with a tightening sensation in their chest.
In recent years a journalist was interviewing the current owner of Craig y Nôs in the castle’s kitchen, they began discussing how Madame Patti had never mastered the role of Carmen, in the next moment a large cast iron saucepan flew from the range on the floor with a crash, and the owner exclaimed “She isn’t happy“! One thing is certain Madame Patti has not lost her diva spirit!
Now a popular hotel, wedding and ghost hunting venue, there has been plenty of mirth and sorrow in the castle’s fascinating and lively history.