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BLOG | October 28, 2020

Don’t disturb The White Lady!

Fairy tales, ghost stories and legends of monsters – we’ve been using stories to frighten one another for millennia.

Tales like that of Ancient Greece and the Minotaur, the mythical creature (part man and part bull), to more recent stories, like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, draw on our fear of the unknown. The thought that something supernatural, maybe more powerful, having an influence on our daily lives scares us.

However, by placing our fear in the realm of fiction, whether through ghost stories or horror films, we find a way to control that fear – we make the goosebumps fun and enjoyable.

So, as it’s Halloween, the time of year that ghosts and evil spirits roam free, we thought we’d brush off the cobwebs from a few local ghost stories…

Sobbing woman disrupts family picnic

In one story, a family was having a picnic in the grounds of Oystermouth Castle – it’s a lovely spot with stunning views over Swansea Bay. While the parents rested, their two young children ran off to play. However, the children soon returned to say they’d seen a lady dressed in white crying behind a tree.

So, they led their father to the tree, sure enough he too saw the woman dressed in a long white robe with a cord tied at the waist, seemingly sobbing her heart out, although he heard no sound.

As their dad approached the white lady she turned her back to him and he was shocked to see the top part of her dress was ripped to shreds and her back was raw and bleeding from countless lacerations.

He stood for a moment then decided to go and take the children back to his wife. When he returned a few seconds later, there was no sign of the anguished woman in white and it seemed quite impossible for her to have disappeared normally from the scene.

White lady makes dog whimper

In our second story, a local man was taking his dog for a walk near Oystermouth Castle. He lost sight of the dog for some moments and when he whistled and the dog did not return, he began to search for it. After a little while he heard it whimpering, and he found it behind a tree petrified with fear, it’s eyes fixed on a part of the castle wall.

It was starting to get dark, but he was curious to know what could have frightened his little dog. He went towards the spot on the castle wall that seemed to have attracted the dog’s attention, and as he did so, he saw a white shape on the floor just in front of the wall.

As he got closer the dog began to howl, and the white shape, which he thought may have been a large piece of paper or something similar, rose up from the ground. It was a woman dressed in a white robe, and almost before he could recover from his surprise, she seemed to ‘melt’ into the castle wall.

When he reached the place where she disappeared, he saw that there was no way she could have passed through the wall, as he put it “the earth just swallowed her up”.

The Pillar of Smoke

On a sunny day in August 2014, I was on duty in the Ticket Office. During the lunchbreak a visitor began a conversation with me and requested a Guided Tour. I offered to present a short tour of the ground floor which comprises the Chapel Tower, the South and North Keeps and the Cellars of the West Range. We were about to start our tour from the stairs which join the Courtyard to the Ticket Office when a movement in the north window of the Gatehouse commanded my attention: a column of grey smoke was rising within the Portcullis Room. There was nothing of a flammable nature in this room and as I watched, the form of a head began to materialise and resolve itself into a female. At this moment, I decided to investigate the source of the smoke and quickly made my way to the first floor to find… nothing… the smoke had vanished. This was my first paranormal experience during daylight hours.

Roger Parmiter | Friend of Oystermouth Castle

Walking Through Walls

During a conversation between building contractors and a Project Manager near the Castle’s Gateway Passage, a figure appeared in the Courtyard and began to walk towards them. Without missing a step, a figure appeared in the courtyard and began to walk towards the village. If it was a ghost, it must have belonged to someone who lived before the walls were built.

Roger Parmiter | Friend of Oystermouth Castle

Foot Steps

The two contractors who featured in the previous story also experienced another phenomena at the same place. This took place at 8.30am one morning before any other staff were on-site. They were positioned to the left of the Gateway Passage and not in line of sight of the Gateway entrance. They heard the footsteps of someone walking through the entrance and up the Passageway – since the Castle Gate was locked they were puzzled and moved to look down the Passageway – but there was nothing to be seen.

Roger Parmiter | Friend of Oystermouth Castle

Tap Incident

Several years ago, a Friend was filling a plastic cup with water from the tap at the castle entrance and when the cup was full it was suddenly knocked out of her hand and fell to the ground. She could not account for what had happened but thought she must have lost her grip without realising it. A few weeks later, the same thing happened, despite her taking extra care when filling the cup. Sometime later, another Friend wet some kitchen paper at the tap to wipe his face on a hot day. He turned around to walk away and as he stepped forward, the kitchen paper was snatched out of his hand.

Roger Parmiter | Friend of Oystermouth Castle

Rotating Tripod

Over the past 25 years, several groups and individuals have examined paranormal activities at Oystermouth Castle. On three occasions I accompanied Geraint Hopkins (known as The Snakeman) in his investigations. The most notable took place at 2am on a cold morning in November 2013. He and his team positioned a camera and tripod in the South Keep where it could be remotely controlled from the Exhibition Tent. At about 2am all power was lost and batteries went dead. The electrical system was checked and batteries replaced – we then discovered that the camera and tripod were not in their original position.

Roger Parmiter | Friend of Oystermouth Castle

The White Lady of Oystermouth

Every self-respecting castle has to have a ghost and Oystermouth Castle is no different. Stories, like those we’ve already heard, are plenty, but their unifying figure is, of course, the white lady.

The lady most identified with the castle is Alina de Braose. Could she be the White Lady of Oystermouth?

Whilst we cannot be sure, Alina’s story is certainly an interesting one.

Lady Alina de Braose

Alina de Braose was the eldest daughter of William de Braose III, Lord of Gower. In 1298, at Swansea Castle, Alina married John de Mowbray who would go on to participate in the barons’ revolt against King Edward II of England with Thomas of Lancaster.

After losing the Battle of Boroughbridge in 1322, John de Mowbray was executed, and Alina fled by boat from Gower to Devon. However, she was discovered and imprisoned in the Tower of London.

On her release, Alina obtained confirmation of Gower land for herself and her heirs from King Edward III, holding it with her second husband, Richard de Peshale, until her death in 1331.

The white lady in stone

Amongst the medieval objects on display at Swansea Museum is a 700-year-old stone carving believed to represent the White Lady of Oystermouth, Lady Alina de Braose.

The sculptured stone head was found on the site of the old Rectory House in Fisher Street, Swansea and dates from approximately 1330. It is thought to have come from St. Mary’s Church, Swansea where it may have been a mullion, in Gothic architecture, a vertical bar dividing the lights in a window.

 

 

And, finally…

If you see the White Lady of Oystermouth this All Hallows Eve, maybe you’ll want to recite these few words:

White lady please don’t fright,

White lady be asleep tonight!