Monday, June 4, 2012

Haunted Skirrid Mountain Inn

The Skirrid Inn is one of the most haunted structures in South Wales. It is located in Abergavenny and was originally built in the 12th century as a hostelry. Over the hundreds of years this building has stood it has seen more than its fair share of violence. This violence focused around a large number of executions by hanging that took place within the Inn’s walls. Today the Skirrid is one of the oldest pubs in Britain.

During the reign of King James the II, who was a catholic, the local townsfolk supported the Protestant Duke of Monmouth in his failed rebellion. The king sent Judge Jeffries to hang these rebels for their disloyalty. Over one hundred locals were hanged from a beam beneath the Skirrid Inn staircase.

The Skirrid Inn was also used as the local courthouse. The local land owner, Squire Arnold presided over these hearings. Arnold was a particularly cruel man and he dispensed swift punishment to over 180 highwaymen, robbers, thieves, cheats—and anyone else who dared to cross him. All who came before him were hanged.

The trails were held on the second floor—these condemned prisoners spent their last few hours in a cell that was halfway up the stairs. From this location the condemned men as they waited to die could hear the pub’s merry patrons below. Today the area that was used as the cell is a storage room. The beam that was used to hang the prisoners from is still located at the top of the stairwell. People can still see the marks left on it from the many ropes that were used.

The stone building that is the Skirrid Mountain Inn still has many original floors, walls, window frames and of course the beams that were used as gallows. The atmosphere in the inn is described as eerie at best. It seems the building keeps the memories of the last breaths of hundreds of souls. So it is no surprise the structure is haunted.

One of the scariest reports has happened to guests and pub patrons alike. They state that welts on their necks, like rope burns have appeared. Many recount how they felt their breathing was restricted as if they were being choked. One apparition that has been seen over the years is John Crowther. He was one of the many thieves who were hanged in the inn for stealing sheep. It is said that his ghost is friendly and good company. Besides Crowther’s ghost other criminals have been spotted as well as a hangman. In the Skirrid pub, where locals still stop in for a pint, items are often misplaced, and unseen hands move glasses along the bar.

One recent guest who stayed in Room 1 upstairs –had a very frightening experience in the room’s bathroom. This area near the wall was where Arnold and his magistrates once sat in judgment on their countless prisoners. This female guest was taking a bath when unseen hands pushed her under the water and held her down. Her screams were heard throughout the inn, “he is trying to kill me.” In Room 2 also upstairs other guests have been touched by what they describe as a malevolent presence. Many have had their ears tweaked.

The present manager of the Skirrid Inn does not believe in ghosts but he admits that something is not quite right about the building. His four-year old grandson did encounter one of the inn’s ghosts. He and his wife had not mentioned anything about the inn’s ghostly history to their grandson since he is so young. But one day he approached his grandpa stating he needed to pee. The manager pointed out one of the inn’s restrooms and told him to use it. Surprised he saw his grandson return within seconds. He asked the boy why he had not used the restroom, his grandson told him quickly, “The man in the long dress won’t let me through the door.”

The Skirrid Mountain Inn is in Llanvidhangel Crucorney, a small village just five miles north of the center of Abergavenny.

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