Page last updated at 07:31 GMT, Thursday, 11 March 2010

'Spirit' guides wanted for Conwy Tudor mansion

The search is on for guides with a taste for the paranormal at Plas Mawr house in Conwy, reputedly haunted by a host of spirits. George Herd took his own spooky look around the Tudor town mansion.

Plas Mawr, Conwy
Built in 1585, Plas Mawr in Conwy is now protected by Cadw

The steep wooden steps creak and groan underfoot as you make your way to the watchtower.

But be warned. You may find yourself catching more than just your breathe as you climb to the top of Plas Mawr in Conwy.

The Tudor mansion in the heart of this World Heritage town holds some deep and tragic secrets.

"On four or five occasions I have had a cold shiver whilst going up the tower," confesses the caretaker, Dewi Roberts.

"That can be in the middle of July or August. The house is quiet and shut. And then there is the cold shiver up your neck."

At the top of the stairwell a ladder of deeply polished steps stretches into the watchtower.

According to the stories handed down through the Conwy generations, it was here that Lady Dorothy Wynn would wait to glimpse her rich merchant husband Robert returning home from his latest voyage.

Tragedy

But on one stormy night in 1598, carrying a young child in her arms, she stumbled down the ladders and was mortally injured.

Steps to watchtower, Plas Mawr, Conwy
The steps from the watchtower proved to be fatal to Lady Wynn

"The maid took her and the child to their room, but she could see they were seriously hurt and sent for the doctor," retold the caretaker.

But the doctor who returned was inexperienced, and tried to flee the house, only to be locked in by the maid.

When Robert Wynn returned, both mother and child had died - and the doctor could not be found, he had disappeared from the locked room.

"The lord of the manor was distraught, saying 'Where was this doctor?'. In the night, he apparently ended his own life," said the caretaker.

"The maid came in the morning, after this storm had ceased, and found him dead at the foot of the bed, the lady dead and the child dead.

"The doctor was never found. It's believed he had climbed up the chimney. His bones were never found."

To this day, it is claimed the ghost of Robert Wynn still rages around the mansion searching for the doctor, while others report sightings of Lady Wynn, and even the missing medic.

More sightings

Margaret Williams has lived next door to Plas Mawr on Conwy's busy high street for the last 30 years, and vouches for the mysterious sightings.

Stood in the back yard of her home, she points to what was once a stone arch linking the two properties: "A little girl comes through the wall, she is dressed in blue crinoline. She's got auburn hair down her back.

Margaret Williams, Conwy
People can harm you more when they are alive.
Margaret Williams
Plas Mawr neighbour

"There's also a man who comes through, dressed in what looks like a civil war outfit. They walk through the yard here and up the stone steps and disappear. I've seen it many times.

"There is also a lady in a grey crinoline, but she just stands still in the yard."

Mrs Williams, a former local journalist and the owner of the Conwy quayside attraction, the smallest house in Britain, said the sightings gave her no cause for concern.

"They are gone in a few seconds. People can harm you more when they are alive."

Today, Plas Mawr is in the care of the assembly government's heritage body, Cadw, which has spent a small fortune restoring the house to its former glory.

'Ghost' tours

But while it always stressed that there is "no evidence" to back the supernatural claims at the property, it admits there is certainly an unstoppable interest in the incidents.

So much so, that it is now asking for potential guides to come forward, who would be willing to give 'out-of-hours' tours of the house, inviting visitors in as the sun goes down over the town.

"Centuries old buildings such as Plas Mawr are by their very nature susceptible to claims of haunting, strange sightings and sounds," said Jayne Rowlands, Cadw's head of presentation.

"While we have no evidence to say Plas Mawr is home to anyone other than its custodians and volunteers we are happy to have an open mind on the subject and look forward to hearing from anyone interested in undertaking the tours."

Cadw said the initial tours would be part of a pilot, and if successful they could become a regular fixture on the Plas Mawr calendar.



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