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The Strange Ghost of Llanellan

Not far away, amid secluded and peaceful surroundings stands a small farm called Llan-Elan, where a ghost resembling a person still alive was seen for a limited period when inexplicable and horrible events took place. Llan-elan or Llanellan as it was then spelt, belonged to Colonel Henry Bowen (an ancestor of author Elizabeth Bowen) in the early part of the seventeenth century. After seeing service during the civil war, Henry Bowen left Wales with his son John (the son of the second of his three wives) to take up residence in Ireland. His properties at Llanellan and Ilston, Pennard and Bishopston passing to his four sons by his third wife, all of whom died leaving no heirs. The haunting of Llanellan took place during the month of December in 1655 when the colonel was in Ireland, yet his form was plainly seen by his wife in Wales. In her book that tells the story oh her family and ancestors, Bowen's Court (1942), Elizabeth Bowen bases her account of the strange happenings at Llanellan, on a document in the possession of a certain Colonel Rogers, (at that time the Governor of Hereford), and a letter from a minister in Glamorgan named Bedwall. Both documents formed the basis for a chapter in Richard Baxter's famous work, The Certainty of the World of Spirits (1691) and assuredly the Llanellan case seems to be of some consequence: it aroused considerable interest at the time among those interested in such matters. On the first night that she was aware that anything was amiss, Mrs Bowen was in Llanellan House with most of her family and they afterwards attested, they were greatly troubled with a great noise, (like the sound of a whirlwind) and a violent beating on the doors and walls, as if the whole house were falling to pieces… Mrs Bowen's response to this somewhat alarming occurrence was to spend some time in her room, surrounded by the family, engaged in prayer since she considered it was "sinful to yield to fear". After these supplications Mrs Bowen retired to bed only to wake up to find herself confronted by an apparition "something like her husband" who plainly asked whether he should join her in bed! She sat up, now fully awake and aware of the "form" in her room started to pray out loud, and informed the figure that he was not her husband and should definitely not get into the bed beside her. The figure seemed surprised and offended by this outburst from Mrs Bowen saying "What! Not the husband of thy bosom". But shortly afterwards the ghost disappeared from the room. More strange noises then seemed to echo through the house, "strange miserable howling and cries" followed by the sound of heavy footsteps, sighing and humming, heard most frequently in the parlour, where even in the daytime the shadow of someone walking would appear on the wall…….. One night as she prepared for her bed Mrs Bowen was astonished to see an indentation on the bed as though someone were lying there. On opening the bed clothes she was halted by a most offensive aroma " like a carcass that had been some time dead". Still continuing to get into bed she looked on in horror as "something rolled from side to side on the sheet!" without waiting to dress herself, she gathered the two maids to her side and all three fell to their knees and prayed at the bedside. Almost as soon as they started praying they heard the sound of talking from the other side of the bed and the candles were almost blown out by puffs of air that came towards them! The manifestations continued through the night in various extraordinary ways, and by mornings light Mrs Bowen and the two maids (understandably) were in quite a sad state. The disturbances were so dreadful that after enduring a third night of violent and unpredictable and frightening happenings Mrs Bowen felt she had to leave the house and went to stay with her mother. When Colonel Bowen learned of the extraordinary events he returned to England, showing more respect and love for his wife than formerly. Yet he did not return to Llanellan and in fact he later returned to Ireland (where Mrs Bowen lived for many years), occupying a small castle with one of his sons. A lad who was sometimes found to have risen from his bed in the middle of the night talking aloud as though someone invisible were with him…………

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