The exterior of Gregynog Hall looked wonderful in the photos of the online booking website. It was set in all of 750 acres which basically translated into unlimited acres of gardens for the children to explore. With satisfactory reviews and cheap rates it looked like a good deal. After a quick round of discussion with two other families, who we were travelling with, we made our booking.
And then one by one the worms started crawling out of the woodwork. A quick Google search threw up page after page stressing the haunted nature of the hotel. It had been featured on the TV program ‘Britain’s most haunted’ and on the Paranormal channel. Further Google investigations revealed that it was a multitude of ghosts that was doing the hauntings not a single lone ghost as one would think. To make matters more exciting, we discovered that the bathrooms were located outside our rooms. Room number 7 was haunted by a ghost of a young girl, who chose to watch while you slept. The seating area was haunted by a spirit who disliked humans. The cellar was haunted by a servant. One of the rooms was haunted by a nurse who committed suicide by jumping out from the window of the room. Another school of thought believed that it was the lover of the nurse who was haunting the hall. The stories were numerous. One thing was for sure – our visit would be a memorable one, what with so many spirits wandering around the great house. I had toyed with the idea of spending a night in a haunted house in the past. I do not know whether I would have been motivated enough to actually book myself into one. Now I was being handed a haunted house on a platter and I was going to make the most of it.
We arrived mid-afternoon. The weather was cold and damp. It was Good Friday and the courtyard of the hotel was happily abuzz with children busy with their Easter trails. A lively barbecue was going on with the chef tantalizingly sizzling sausages with whole garlic and chopped onions – just the balm for a biting cold day.
The rooms in the courtyard, which was the newer part of the house and located outside the main house, had private bathrooms. We were thinking of getting our rooms changed to the en-suite ones in the courtyard. However when the lady at the reception suggested that we take a look at the allocated rooms first before making up our minds, we agreed and I was glad that we did. The rooms that had been allocated to us were absolutely superb. They were the size of a mini badminton court with wonderful views over the garden. For me these rooms had the added benefit of being located in the main house (and therefore more likely to be haunted). We could see that there were at least five other toilets and bathrooms of varying sizes located next to our room and since there was only one other family on our floor with their own set of bathrooms located close to them, without any hesitation we opted to spend the night in our allocated supposedly haunted room (it was not room number 7). My friends though decided to use the courtyard rooms. They were not as in thrall with the atmosphere of the house as I was and their belief in ghosts was absolute.
Meanwhile we had the full house to explore. We saw this old, dark gothic room which was built in 1640 and was and is used for weddings.
The library had all the major English classics, all of them in hardcovers. I could have gladly put up with several ghosts at once for a chance to spend a good amount of time in there.
The house was nearly 600 years old, huge and very easy to get lost in. Parts of it looked gothic. This boarded bathroom window for instance. I am quite sensitive to the atmosphere that places exude but this place simply did not feel eerie or ghostly. I just found it beautiful. There was just one part of the house that looked a little sinister and that was the stairway leading to the cellar. When we asked the exceptionally friendly and helpful staff member about the hauntings, she told us that the house had been a happy one with numerous parties being held in it at one time which really told us all that we wanted to know.
We sat for a while in the seating area where I played pranks on my friends by playing ghostly noises on my mobile phone and acting all nonchalant when asked where the noises were coming from. My friends were staunch in their belief that the house was haunted and found it difficult to entertain any thought to the contrary. They were not amused.
When we made our way to our rooms at night after an excellent meal, the passage to our room was dark, deserted and totally devoid of charm. It is amazing what a difference light can make. We searched for the light switch in that deserted corridor and only felt better after the light flooded in. When we entered our room we heard what can be described as a ticking sound. We noticed that it could only be heard when we walked around and so we decided to ignore it. This was an old, creaky mansion and it was bound to make these unexplained noises.
Finally we settled down. For all my bravado, I found that I could not relax and could not close my eyes because of the totally irrational fear that I would see someone sitting by the edge of my bed when I opened them. I had to remind myself a number of times that I was a science loving rational individual living in the twenty first century, spending the night in a lovely house and that was all there was to it. Finally at around 2:00, I fell asleep. The ghosts did not trouble us.
We woke up to the lovely view in the morning and I was jubilant not to have changed my room and glad not to have let the ghosts (or the thought of them) get the better of me. I was still the sane, rational individual that I knew myself to be.