CLAIRE BARRAND lists the most haunted places to visit in the South Wales City of Newport…
Civil wars, rebellions, occult practices and docks prosperous for smugglers Newport has it all, and such colourful history means hauntings are plentiful.
One legend says the priest of St Woolos pleaded with the future King of England Earl Harold and his men to spare the church during a raid. They thrust him aside and found a large cheese on the altar, hacking it in half, blood spurted from the cheese causing them to retreat in horror.
In 1848 the town was struck by a severe cholera outbreak, and the stench of death took over the city. Reports describe graveyards overflowing with dead buried so near the surface that scavenging dogs dug up and gnawed on the bones, and thus began the story as to how St Woolos Parish became the first municipal cemetery in the history of Britain.
Newport Castle, Newport NP20 1DA
Newport Castle can be seen as you approach the town via the Old Green Roundabout next to the town’s bridge. It was built in the 14th century by the Normans and may possibly be on the site of an earlier building that predates it further. The castle is an impressive feature despite being sadly closed to the public for safety reasons today. The ancient stone walls are said to be haunted by its originator, Robert Fitzhamon. He is supposed to be seen inside the central tower, and is described as an imposing bearded figure with “piercing eyes.”
Newport’s Tredegar House, Duffryn Drive, Newport NP10 8YW
Tredegar House Was once owned by Lord Tredegar, Evan Morgan, who was well known to dabble in dark magic and witchcraft. Being openly homosexual in 1920’s heightened his reputation for being an eccentric character known for his lavish parties. The renowned occultist Aleister Crowley is supposed to be the last person to incarnate the devil at Tredegar house, he was a close friend of Evans who also had a stone circle built on the grounds for use in occult activities. Ghost sightings are frequent. “The Kings Room” bedroom is said to have cold spots. The Brown Room was used for witchcraft, and people report strange feelings in both rooms. Other ghosts include nuns in the brewhouse and on the stairs. Creaks and noises, unexplained footsteps, heavy doors unbolted, lights switched on, and staff bells ring on their own which indicates just how incredibly haunted this place must be.
University of Wales College, Caerleon Campus
A six-foot-tall matron wearing a brown dress with her hair in a bun known as Bertha Ramsey is said to haunt the recently closed Newport campus. She was frequently seen by students and tutors. Said to have been found dead at the bottom of the stairs in 1962, the speculation is that Bertha was murdered –pushed from a second-floor banister during the Christmas period. Security staff patrol the campus at night and claim to hear strange noises and see things move. The lift in the building sometimes comes down to the ground floor with nobody else in the building. Bertha is not the only ghost that has been seen here. Built-in 1912 on the site of an old Roman burial ground visitors have reported seeing the ghostly spectre of a Centurion in full regalia.
Ye Olde Murenger Public House, 52-53 High Street, Newport NP20 1GA
Built in 1403, this is apparently Newport’s oldest pub, located in the town centre between the Kings Hotel and McDonald’s. It was owned by the High Sheriff of Monmouthshire an exudes character. The building didn’t become a public house until the 17th Century when it was named The Fleur de Lis. The figure of a man has been seen in the upstairs of the building. Is this the ghost of a man who is rumoured to have committed suicide here? One of the rooms is named “The Spooky Room.” This is where a female apparition has been seen standing at the window. Today the Spooky Room is not used except for storage because the staff don’t feel comfortable in it. Reports of cold spots and unease are frequent in this building.
The Westgate Hotel, Commercial Street, Newport
The Westgate Hotel was the site of the 1839 Chartist riot, also known as the Newport Rising. On November 1839 there was a significant rebellion against authority in Great Britain and almost 10,000 men armed with homemade weapons marched into the city of Newport. 3000 of them were arrested and held prisoner inside the hotel. British army troops opened fire killing over 20 of them and injuring more in a violent and bloody battle. It is rumoured that the bullet holes are still there on the pillars at the entrance to the hotel. Hotel staff and guests here often report ghostly encounters one is the apparition of a man dressed in black on the upper floors, and doors are often seen to open on their own when nobody is there.