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Bodeugan Poltergeist

‘Sir, I have sent by the carrier two geese. I would wish them to be better and they would be so, but we were so troubled in the house that we could not attend to things as usual.’[1]

 

So begins a most curious letter from Robert Roberts, tenant of Bodeugan Farm to his landlord, one Doctor Currie of Watergate Street, Chester. It would seem that during the December of 1812, the Roberts family and their servants were plagued by a malicious spirit, that quite tore apart the calm of the household, and made the everyday business of the farm quite impossible.

 

The turmoil began on the 1st December with the breaking of windows by the throwing of stones, and at the time of his writing the letter, Roberts was claiming that the house was still in the throes of the haunting. Despite thinking it at first to be ‘malicious persons’, no evidence of human activity could be found, and as December lengthened, the dairy seemed to become the focus of the poltergeist. Pots of churning milk were broken and dung was thrown at the milkmaids as they tried to go about their business. The haunting intensified.

 

‘But last night it was so terrible that the women left this house and went to a neighbours house.’

 

The disturbances continued until the 16th December, when, rather abruptly, everything seems to have returned to calm. One can only imagine the relief. However, after ten days of quiet, on the 26th December the poltergeist returned - this time, more fiercely.

 

‘It was more dangerous this time than before. We went to bed about 10 o’clock Saturday night, and it began to kick and pinch the servants and pulling the bed clothes to the floor and the women along with them and has done a great deal of damage and if it will continue we must leave the House.’

 

It appears that Roberts was persuaded that the haunting was the result of conjurors by the ‘gentlemen of the neighbourhood’, and in truth you will find several tales within these pages where similar witchery happenings were the result of varied curses. But the haunting at Bodeugan Farm is the only one, as far as is known, which is written of in such a clear and certain manner. What today we would credit as a poltergeist, Roberts and his contemporaries knew as the acts of curses and conjurers.

 

It is hard to credit an ulterior motive to Robert Roberts’ assertions. The letter does not seem to suggest that he was incapable of paying his rent - indeed, the letter would seem to suggest that Roberts was fairly well-to-do. In fact he asserts his desire to stay as long as he can, ‘for the sake of you, sir’, but it is clear that he was coming to the end of his tether.

 

‘And if we leave it, no body will come here to live after us. Everybody wonders at us to stop in the House and I will not last long.’

 

Whatever his motivation - whether suspicious or simply curious, Doctor Currie was minded enough to ask John Lloyd, vicar of St Trillo’s at Llandrillo in the Edeirnion Valley and a colleague, a Mr Hughes to investigate the claims. Having spent some time at the farm, they found nothing untoward until on declaring their intention to leave, were informed of a disturbance in the dairy. On arriving hurriedly, they were confronted with a maid making right a mess - pots which had been said to have been thrown to the ground by an invisible force. It was then that Hughes was struck by a stick, which Hughes felt had been thrown by the maid. He also believed that he saw her throw a potato, and felt more certain that she had hurled a pepperpot in his direction. Initially, Hughes and Lloyd felt this was evidence that the whole business was in fact a prank. The maid was adamant that she had thrown nothing, and Hughes seems to have been sufficiently unsure of the matter to suggest that the poltergeist may well have used her without her knowledge to throw the items. Robert’s father-in-law later contacted the pair to insist on the innocence of the maid, since the disturbances continued into January, and at times the maids had been in full view.

 

Hughes’ doubts fit well with what many believe is the experience of a poltergeist disturbance. Those who have studied such activity believe that these disturbances centre on an individual - more often than not, an adolescent female, undergoing puberty or on the verge of. Such activity manifests itself in the household of the affected individual, often affecting others as well as the youth.

 

Nothing more is known of the fate of Robert Roberts and his household. No further letters have survived. His letter to Doctor Currie of Watergate Street, Chester remains one of the most intriguing and difficult to dismiss pieces of evidence for those fascinated by hauntings and the supernatural. Bodeugan Farm remains, a 17th century, stone built, 3-storey house, boasting a superb Jacobean staircase. The remains of a red brick dovecote can be seen from the A55 as you motor (or perhaps trundle) towards the west.

 

There have been no further disturbances… at least as far as is known.

*Please note that Bodeugan Farm is a private residence.*

 

 

 

Further Reading

 

Letter from Robert Roberts to Doctor Currie, 30th December 1812 - D/BC/911 North East Archives, Hawarden

 

[1] All quotes from the Letter of Robert Roberts to Doctor Currie, 30th December 1812 - D/BC/911 North East Wales Archives, Hawarden.

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