Heol Fanog, as featured in The Witch Farm Podcast, was one of the most terrifying true paranormal cases ever, writes RICK HALE
“Most haunted” are two words that tend to cause the ire of many people in the paranormal community to rise to the surface.
No, I’m not talking about the TV show of the same name, although that causes enough bad thoughts in and of itself. But I digress.
I’m referring to the idea that you can somehow measure paranormal activity and pit places against each other in some kind of spectral contest for dominance. Seems a bit silly when you think about it. Right?
And yet, there are terrifying stories of haunted places that stand head and shoulders among the rest.
Tales of innocent people forced to endure unthinkable events that belong only in our darkest nightmares
Heol Fanog, an isolated farmhouse located in Wales’ breathtaking Brecon Beacons, is one such place.
And if it weren’t for Danny Robins and his brilliant podcast, The Witch Farm, the seven years of terror a family endured at this ancient farmhouse may have been lost to history.
The Family Moves In To Heol Fanog
Everyone wants a new start, but very few actually find it. Starting over is supposed to be filled with endless possibilities and a bright future.
That’s what the Rich family thought when they discovered the old stone house pretty much out in the middle of nowhere, in the shadows of the Brecon Beacons.
The horror started in 1989, when Bill Rich, a struggling but talented artist from London, along with his pregnant wife Liz and his teenage son, moved into Heol Fanog.
The Horror Begins
Now, when it comes to stories of true hauntings, the activity usually follows a pattern.
Little things, almost unnoticeable, happen until the activity progresses into unimaginable horror. Not so with what the Rich family experienced. The ghosts that haunted their new home were all too eager to start things off immediately.
In many hauntings, a sense of presence is commonly reported. And Heol Fanog had just that.
The entire family felt as if something from deep in the shadowy corners was looking at them. Perhaps glaring would be the right word, as if whatever was watching them did not want the family living there.
Of course, Bill and Liz brushed it off as new house jitters, something we can all relate to. But after that, things only got stranger. And even malicious.
If you ask a ghost hunter what their most common problem is, they may answer battery drain.
It’s almost as if ghosts feed off energy and use it to manifest into a spectral form.
One day, Bill opened the post and discovered something that made his blood boil. The electric bill for the house was more than seven times greater than what it should have been.
Bill immediately contacted the power company, which in turn sent a technician to the house.
Even the technician found the amount of power the house was using to be mysterious. He further went on to imply that something weird was happening in the house. Sadly, the Rich family was on the hook for the bill. If they didn’t pay, the power would be shut off.
Footsteps and Horrible Smells
From there, the activity in the isolated farmhouse took a dark turn.
Loud, thunderous footsteps were heard throughout the house, regardless of the time of day.
And cold spots, followed by horrific odours of sulphur and the sickening sweet scent of overpowering incense, could be smelled around the house.
It wasn’t uncommon for the family to walk into a room and be enveloped in an odorous assault on the senses.
All of this may seem to be par for the course in a haunting, but the situation was only about to get far more extreme. Even deadly.
The Entity Gets Violent
Out of all the nightmarish activity Bill and Liz faced in the house, two episodes really stick out that prove whatever was infesting their home was not playing games.
Not long after giving birth to their baby girl, Liz was doing a task every mother does: putting the baby down for a nap.
As she sang her newborn infant to sleep, the otherwise peaceful and sweet scene was broken when the door to the bedroom violently slammed, awakening the baby and terrifying Liz.
When her scream reached Bill’s ears, he came running to see what scared his wife so.
The frightened husband barged in and asked what happened. A shaken Liz exclaimed that something slammed the door to the bedroom.
You might be thinking, as Bill did, that perhaps a draught of wind blew through the house and slammed the door.
That’s a perfectly reasonable explanation, except according to Liz, the door was already closed.
A lot of the haunting seemed to focus on Liz, causing some to think that perhaps a poltergeist was involved and Liz was the unwitting focus.
However, as far as poltergeists are concerned, they rarely ever try to kill the one putting out that energy. Liz Rich was now in danger of just that.
One night, while attempting to take a peaceful, much-needed respite from the haunting, Liz was physically attacked in the bath tub.
Rough hands grabbed the woman and pushed her down in the water, attempting to drown her.
This, of course, is no doubt frightening, but things were about to get much worse.
A Shocking Revelation
When Bill and Liz moved into Heol Fanog, they came into contact with their only neighbour.
A cantankerous old man who was less than thrilled to have a man from London move in next door
Although the neighbour didn’t change his tone, he was somewhat more tolerable as the days passed.
One day, Bill asked the man if he had ever heard anything strange concerning the old house he and his family were occupying. And what he had to say was shocking.
Do you remember that scene in the classic horror film Poltergeist (1982) where the dead bodies were surfacing in the pool? Yeah, it was kind of like that.
Bill discovered that his home was built using the gravestones from a desecrated graveyard.
Perhaps this act of disrespect was the cause of the malicious haunting of Heol Fanog. So far, the spirits had not shown themselves, but that was about to change.
The Old Woman
It’s been theorised that children are far more sensitive to the presence of spirits. This seemed to be the case for the Riches’ children.
The image of a stern-looking elderly woman would regularly appear in the shadowy corners of their playroom.
When the children finally approached their parents about the strange visitor, the children honestly thought she was a real person who belonged there. Never once did they question whether or not she was a ghost.
The Dark Figure
A second commonly witnessed apparition at Heol Fanog was a shadowy figure.
This shadow person was seen walking about the house and would appear at the foot of their beds, glaring down at them.
Whoever, or whatever this entity was, gave a feeling of absolute terror and dread.
One night, while the couple slept, they were awakened by the unmistakable sound of the door opening.
As they peered into the darkness, they could make out a skeletal hand holding the door open.
When the hand slammed the door, Bill turned on the lights, and their eyes were met with an unimaginable horror.
A figure dressed in a dark black hooded robe loomed over their bed, glaring down at them. It only vanished after they both let out bloodcurdling screams.
While the haunting progressed, Bill started showing behaviour that went completely against his character.
Bill’s work as an artist began faltering, and his talent just seemed to dry up.
When he found he could no longer work, Bill took up an interest in the occult and darker side of life.
According to Liz, he would spend hours alone in his studio, diligently studying the arcane tomes he took to collecting.
And with Bill’s new interests came violent mood swings. One moment, Bill would be merely just quiet. And the next, he would fly into rages. Even the slightest infraction would set the man off.
Liz, fearing for her life and the lives of her children, finally came to the conclusion that a spiritual problem required a spiritual cure. It was time to call in an exorcist.
More Shocking Revelations
When searching for help, Liz contacted a number of mediums, spiritualists, and clergy.
When they visited, they picked up on some unnerving history that occurred on the property.
According to them, the cause of the haunting came from three sources.
One was the desecrated gravestones, which they were already aware of.
Second, a vicious murder took place on the property in 1848. A young farmhand was killed by a friend who hit him in the head with an axe and buried him on the property.
The third piece of dark news was easily the most disturbing.
Apparently, satanic rites, including animal sacrifice, were carried out on the property. And it would seem it was still occurring as many of the Riches’ animals died mysterious deaths.
What was supposed to be a little slice of heaven had become a hell for the Rich family. A hell that resulted in not only a broken home but shattered dreams.
The Witch Farm
The radio drama “The Witch Farm“, which starred the voice talents of Joseph Fiennes and Alexandra Roach, dared to detail events that plagued Heol Fanog.
And to put the human pain and fear into what has become known as “Wales’ Amityville,” Danny managed to secure the participation of the woman who lived through the ordeal herself, Liz Rich.
If you haven’t listened to “The Witch Farm,” you should do yourself a favour and listen. You can really hear the pain and sadness in her voice. Not to mention the fear.
In the interview, Liz lamented how she wishes she could have lived a normal life. I will never understand what she went through.
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