A few miles from Abergavenny, in a town named Llanvihangel Crucorney, in the county of Monmouthshire, you will find the oldest inn of Wales. It is unknown exactly how old it is, but it was already named in documents from the year 1100. The inn is named The Skirrid Inn because of its view on Skirrid Mountain. People claim the mountain was struck by lightning and split in two the moment Jesus died at the cross.
The history of the Skirrid Inn
In 1175, the Skirrid Inn was the site of a massacre caused by William de Braose, who was a devout but also ruthless man. He was a nobleman and the right hand of the later English King John (1199). William wanted revenge for the death of his uncle, Henry de Boase, who was murdered by noblemen from Wales. William invited three of them, along with a few leaders, to have dinner with him at the Skirrid Inn for Christmas. At dinner, he ordered his men to slay them all.
Owain Glyndŵr (1359 – ? c. 1415) was the last Prince of Wales who also came from Wales. According to the legend, the inn was used as a meeting point for the local supporters of the Welsh Revolt. This revolt was against the reign of Henry VI. In the year 1404 a bloody battle took place under Owain’s orders within the city walls of Abergavenny. Owain got help from a woman who opened the gate at the market on the inside. His men plundered the city and set it on fire. The street near the market is now known as “Traitor Alley”.
The Skirrid Inn had been used as a courthouse for years to judge highwaymen and sheep thieves. Later, the Inn was also used to judge George “hanging” judge Jeffreys, was the most infamous judge. He ordered for at least 182 men to be executed at the Skirrid Inn in what is now known as the Bloody Assizes. These executions followed after the Monmouth Rebellion: a group of people tried to overthrow King James II.
You can still see the rope marks on the oak beam in the stairwell. The people who were hanged at the Skirrid Inn were unlucky. Being brought to death on the gallows had the advantage of an instant death for the hatch would be opened and the neck would snap. Here, at the inn, there was no hatch. Here people were forced off the steps. No necks were snapped by this action, so people suffocated to death slowly. Perhaps that’s why this place is so haunted.
The ghosts of The Skirrid Inn
Many have seen apparitions at the inn and even more claim to have heard or felt something. The temperature tends to drop for no reason and people feel as if they’re being watched. Sometimes glasses are thrown all over the place. The owner claims to lose 10 to 15 glasses per week this way. Money is also thrown. There are also reports of people who suddenly dropped to their knees, grabbing their throats. Later they claimed they felt as if a noose was placed around their necks. Faces are seen through the windows, even on the third floor, where no one comes anymore. But there are not just evil spirits at the inn.
The ghost of Fanny Price, a female bartender and landlady who died in the 17th century, is still present here. She died in the inn’s smallest bedroom at the age of 35 of consumption. She walks around the inn as if she still wants to keep an eye on it. Her remains were buried at a churchyard not too far from the inn. Her immediate family, who owned the inn with her, is buried here, too. Henry Price, a relative of Fanny who might have been her father of perhaps her husband, also haunts the place. He has been seen while marching up and down the cobbles outside the inn as if he’s a soldier. Sometimes, Henry spends time inside as well. He then scares guests by banging inside the chimney.
But there are more ghosts at the inn
There is also the spirit of a man who is seen walking up the stairs. Ghosts move through the hallways and visit chambers as well, but they don’t bother the guests. One guest had trouble sleeping because a spirit was playfully spinning the toilet paper roll around in the bathroom all night. The toilet paper wasn’t unrolled, but the noise kept the poor guest wide awake. People with false teeth also take risks staying at the inn. Once, a guest took his dentures off for the night and placed them on his nightstand. The next morning, he found his teeth on the other side of the room, in two perfect halves. Many strange anomalies have been captured on photographs as well, while they were unseen for the naked eye.
The Skirrid Inn itself might be haunted, the surrounding woods are, too. In 1700, the lord of the manor house had an affair with a young servant girl who worked at the Skirrid Inn. His wife caught them red handed and she chased the girl out of the house and into the woods. Her body was found the next day sitting against a tree. She was frozen to death. The woods of Abergavenny are now called the White Lady Woods for her spirit is often seen floating through the woods in a white dress.
On the market
A few years ago, the 44-year-old lady who owned the inn, decided to put the inn up for sale after having lived there for 11 years. The ghosts, however, didn’t want her to leave. When somebody who was interested in buying the inn showed up, the hauntings increased. Glasses were thrown at the potential buyers and no one wanted to buy the place. Fortunately, not fears a good ghost story. Geoff Fiddler and his wife bought the inn in 2005. Nowadays it’s still an inn and open to the paranormal public. Would you dare to visit it?
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Cover photo: andy dolman via Geograph.org.uk CC BY-SA 2.0
Sources: Wikipedia, skirridmountaininn.co.uk, hauntedhappenings.co.uk, higgypop.com, the guardian.com, walesonline.co.uk
Book: Jeff Belanger, Encyclopedia of Haunted Places, 2009, New Page Books
Book: Jeff Belanger, The World’s Most Haunted Places, 2011, New Page Books
Address: Llanvihangel Crucorney, Abergavenny NP7 8DH, United Kingdom