Visitors to Sker House should be wary of the haunted mansion’s tortured past, says CALLUM CAMPBELL
Sker House in Porthcawl, Wales, would have a chequered past, if all the squares on the chessboard were black.
Constructed roughly 900 years ago as the grange of Neath Abbey, a Cistercian order, the house would have been some distance away from the abbey, however, it would have been surrounded in farms.
With the farms gone, only Sker House remains, looking out onto the sea.
After the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII, the estate was continuously gaining new ownership but remained as a refuge for rebel monks.
Due to this, a few inhabitants were executed. Most notable was Jenkin Turberville, a devout Roman Catholic, who was accused of promoting “the old religion”. He was tortured to death, leaving this world in excruciating pain in 1597, and in 1679 St Phillip Evans was hung, drawn and quartered in Cardiff, after being arrested at Sker.
During this period, Sker House was rapidly being bought and sold because no one could make a profit out of it and its condition seriously worsened. It rested in the hands of the Margam Estate until 1941, when it became completely abandoned. During this era, the South Wing collapsed and its already dismal state became abysmal.
In 1999, Sker was given some love and care with a four-year long renovation and was sold to Niall Ferguseon. Did this make the hauntings stop? Of course it didn’t.
Sker House and the Paranormal
Many supernatural going-ons surround Sker House, one of which involves the tale of the Le Vainqueur. The was a French ship on a voyage from Lisbon to Le Havre, packed full of decadent goods (some cited to be 789 chests of oranges, 84 planks of Brazilian hardwood and 650 frails of figs) when it was caught in heavy winds.The Le Vainqueur was driven onto the crags of Sker Point, on which Sker House is built on.
In a small town, gossip spreads quickly. Soon enough people were rifling through the spilled goods from the ship. This can be excused and is understandable, however, what is immoral is that there were still dying men on the ship and souls in need of rescue. Yet the vice of greed had consumed these people and there they were squabbling over possessions like magpies and vultures where men were in dire need of help.
To add salt to the wounds after the captain died, surrounded by looting and pillaging, his body was unceremoniously ransacked, his silver buckles repossessed, his watch nicked and 17 Portuguese gold pieces in his coat burgled.
Due to his untimely end and the disrespectful doing to his cadaver, the captain now haunts Sker House, where some of the loot from the heist was taken by Issac Williams.
Issac Williams was the local magistrate and ruled with an iron fist over the folk of Porthcawl.
The Maid of Sker
This same attitude was applied to his daughter, Elizabeth Williams, who was madly in love with a carpenter, Thomas Evans. Naturally, Isaac Williams disapproved of this union and did his damnedest to deaden their love but it prevailed.
After hearing of Elizabeth’s plans to run away with Evans, Williams imprisoned her in the bedroom of Skel. Distraught and broken, chained to the walls, she began a walking wraith, bones with skin tautly stretched over them.
After an age of weeping and wailing, she died either from self imposed starvation or a broken (nay, a butcher, battered, ripped and torn) heart. Now she is infamous as The Maid of Sker, a shade who rattles chains and can be seen in the bedroom window and about the house itself.
When entering the mansion it is said an wave of pain, torment and bloody torture washes over your, so strong it could bring you to your knees.
What is a Cyhraeth?
Echoing around the ground of Sker are screeches and shrieks. Although you may attribute these to Elizabeth Williams (and you may be right), there is an idea that a Cyhyraeth could be responsible.
If you are unfamiliar with these beings, Cyhyraeths are ghostly spirits found in Welsh belief that caterwaul and cry, often before a death or a shipwreck; which Skel sees plenty of, notably the crash of the Le Vainqeueur and the battering of the SS Samtampa.
These spectres are emancipated and withered, with distraught and unkempt hair and jagged teeth that appear to be rotting. Seeing one of these spirits is a horrible sight but has disastrous consequences as someone emotionally close to you will kick the bucket.
Canwyll Corph or Corpse Candles
Floating lights are said to accompany these beings and guess what, many floating balls of light have been spotted at Skel.
These lights could also be the work of the Canwyll Corph, or the Corpse Candles. These disembodied lights are said to predict death.
When these balls of light are seen you can determine what type of person will die from their colour and size; large means adult, small means child, white means female, red means male, intense blue is an infant and two white lights of varying size indicate a mother and her foetus.
They will often float in a line, eerily this line will resemble the future funeral path of the deceased as shown by this account at Sker.
A man was peering down at the seas when he spotted some ghostly shapes carrying a coffin out of a ship splintered on the rocks. Intrigued, he followed the apparitions until they reached the door of his home and disappeared into thin air along with the coffin.
Bemused he remained confused by the encounter until next week when a ship was smashed onto the boulders by the primal surges of an unforgiving sea.
Among the smashed and broken bodies was his brother, whose funeral procession matched the ghostly shapes’s step for step.
I hope you appreciated this article and learned a thing or two about the chilling past and present of Sker House, a haunting place that only the brave or clinically insane would enter.
Have you seen anything strange at Sker House? Tell us in the comments section below!
1980’s Goth band Gene Loves Jezebel had a song on their second album, Discover, called “Maid Of Sker”.
The twin brothers, Jay and Mike Aston, who led the band originated from the Porthcawl area.