JAN McDONALD takes a look back at Most Haunted: Aberglasney House
Episode Title: Aberglasney House
Location: Tywi Valley, Carmarthenshire
Series: 3 Episode Number: 33
Originally broadcast: 2003
Summary: Read Jan McDonald’s article on The Ghosts of Aberglasney House
Review: Aberglasney House is reputed to be home to between 90 and 120 ghosts! Is this reportedly paranormal hotspot really that haunted? The Most Haunted team investigate.
Yvette Fielding begins the show with her usual overview of the house, setting the backdrop for the night’s investigation by informing us that the house is supposedly cursed and that over ten generations of families that have chosen to live here have endured tragedy or financial ruin. This does, in fact, stand up to historical record. She also tells us of a little boy who has been sighted on the upper floors and of five housemaids that met their deaths mysteriously in their sleep one night.
Richard Felix then adds to the expectations by enlarging on the theme and telling us of the strange lights that resemble a candle flame, appearing at various locations around the house. In particular around the Blue Room where legend has it that in 1650, a housekeeper saw five such lights outside the Blue Room which then served as a bedroom for the five house maids who all died suddenly that night. He speculates that the deaths were caused by inhalation of fumes from a charcoal fire left burning, or was it something more sinister? There is no historical evidence to support foul play, however. He expands on the theory of a curse by telling us that all that reside in the shadow of the hill behind Aberglasney House are cursed.
Aberglasney House was abandoned and derelict for many years, silently waiting for the day when, in the late 1990s, restoration began.
Graham Rankin, the Operations Manager of the house and gardens provides open-minded scepticism. He has worked here for several years and during that time has seen nothing that he would describe as paranormal, although he is enthusiastically prepared to reassess his feelings once he has reviewed any evidence that the team come up with.
‘Sighting of two hooded men and a little boy’
Yvette informs us of the sighting of two hooded men and a little boy. Later she introduces us to a the idea of a little girl spirit and an evil presence.
Back with Richard Felix we revisit the theory that disturbing a building, as in large renovations or removal of walls, can cause psychic and spiritual disturbance due to the residual energy absorbed by stones or brickwork being released or disturbed. For this reason Aberglasney House is a prime candidate for such phenomena. He explains how residual energy can ‘replay’ itself creating the phenomena of residual ghosts. The large scale renovations at this location have possibly created this situation.
Enter Phil Wyman, Paranormal Investigator, who after conducting his base-line tests, picks up the threads of the tale but is doubtful that there are so many ghosts in the location. Time would tell. He predicts that everyone is going to be scared at some point during the coming night, and he is particularly interested in the Blue Room where in 1650 five housemaids died mysteriously in their sleep one night. A housekeeper of the time reported seeing five lights hovering in the corridor in front of the room. He ramps up the anticipation by explaining that the only way into and out of the room is by ladder from the outside. If anyone wants to leave in a hurry they will be out of luck!
He tells us of further paranormal sightings outside the building – the cloisters where disembodied footsteps have often been heard and a pathway to a terrace where a newly erected cafe is situated.
Darkness falls and the atmosphere palpably changes, creating a backdrop of eerie shadows and dark corners.
And the investigation begins.
Spiritualist Medium, Derek Acorah joins the team and immediately takes them outside where he says he says he feels drawn to a pathway leading away from the house into the surrounding woods, describing the path as ‘well trodden’ by both physical and spirit persons. Derek feels that there is both residual spirit energy, implanted and recorded in the ground, and individual spirit people who wander the area. He very quickly senses two spirit people, a man and a woman who he believes are the parents of a little girl who haunts the upper floors. There have been many reported sightings of a male ghost in this area. However Derek goes on to say the man is apparently sitting down and watching them, which suggests an intelligent haunting whereby there is a certain amount of interaction rather than the residual replaying.
‘The team appear to hear a noise in the woods’
After identifying the girl as Serris the team appear to hear a noise in the woods which they feel is a male voice, although nothing can be heard by the viewer. Derek attaches the voice to a hooded man who also reputedly appears as a dark shadow in the main house.
Phil Wyman sees a moving light in the woods which other member so of the team can see once it is pointed out. Speculation as to its source gives way to further investigation as the team head further down the path into the woods. Derek straight away connects the light to spiritual origin and declaring that people are buried in that place, bones underneath the ground, and relates the burials to the hooded figure which he feels is connected to individuals who were murdered there. There is no historical record of any such burials in that location. He then goes into ‘received’ information regarding the five house maids who died in their sleep in 1650, from what we would now understand as carbon monoxide poisoning from a charcoal stove. As theirs was an innocent death it seemed unlikely to me that they would be buried in this way.
Yvette becomes suddenly alarmed and obviously distressed by something she perceives as ‘someone’ breathing in her ear. Later analysis of the film shows the culprit to be a moth flying close to her ear. A perfect example of the fear factor and heightened expectations leading to a willingness to label a normal occurrence as paranormal.
Back in the house the team go to the Blue Room where Derek describes a sadness in the room and describes the five house maid deaths, he uses the term ‘carbon monoxide poisoning’ which if gleaned from spirit it seems strange that these spirit energies would use this precise term.
Karl and Craig descend to the basement which Karl describes as the hub of all paranormal activity in the house. He says the little girl is seen a lot here, which contradicts Derek and Yvette’s earlier information that she haunts the upper floors. They are in pitch darkness and in such a confined area are walking in standing water. The environment is more than conducive to impressions and heightened expectations.
Derek and the team follow them into the basement and the medium immediately identifies the hooded figure as attached to the basement. He soon ‘feels’ the presence of the hooded man pressing down on his shoulders. Further into the basement he predicts a build up and minutes later appears to become possessed by an evil spirit. It struck me as odd that he manages to come out of the possessed state very quickly to ask for assistance before returning to the possession.
After nothing else of significance happens the team decide on a séance in the Blue Room while Stuart, Craig and Rick return to the basement and Richard Felix tests his bravery threshold as, outside again, he walks through the yew tree tunnel unscathed.
‘The séance produces nothing of note’
The séance produces nothing of note other than Karl feeling exhausted and some of the team reporting feeling cold. Yvette feels a breeze on her ear, but all of these events can be rationally explained in such an environment.
Interestingly, despite Craig still feeling ill and freaked out in the basement, (which I have to say seems natural to me in such an unhealthy environment of standing water, damp and claustrophobic conditions) Stuart and Rick don’t share his feelings. Later, Craig has to leave, overwhelmed by feelings of choking and extreme headache.
The séance concludes after Yvette smelling perfume which Karl perceives as a rancid smell. She reports a rapid temperature drop but no-one takes any readings with a thermometer of any sort either at the start of the séance or at the time of the noticed temperature drop.
Richard’s walk outside proves uneventful until he reaches the cloisters where a spooky, dark doorway creeps him out and moments later he sees two large shadows and beats a hasty retreat, falling over in the process. Thankfully he is shaken but unhurt.
In the light of day various members of the team reflect on the night’s events and suggest that they could have been the result of explainable events which in the darkness and cold of the night they perhaps perceived as paranormal.
Is Aberglasney House the haunted hotspot it is reputed to be? Ninety to 120 ghosts? I don’t think so. But with so many historical sightings, something seems to walk there.
JAN McDONALD is the author of the best selling Mike Travis Paranormal Investigation series of novels. She lives on the Welsh Borders, where folklore and legend abound and the tales of ghosts and things that go bump in the night are commonplace.
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