Penyffordd Farm: Wales' Most Haunted House Put Back On The Paranormal Map By New BBC Documentary Series
Photo: © Eric Jones
Nestled in a remote area near Mold in Flintshire, Wales, lies Penyffordd Farm, a 15th-century farmhouse that became the epicentre of one of the most captivating ghost stories in the country. Between 1997 and 2010, this seemingly quaint, historic dwelling became known for a series of otherworldly occurrences that led some to deem it 'the most haunted house in Wales.'
Penyffordd Farm is currently the focus of the BBC documentary 'Paranormal: The Girl, The Ghost And The Gravestones', hosted by Radio 1 DJ Sian Eleri. In the refreshing series, viewers are taken on a journey through the mysterious occurrences reported at the farm. In the series, Sian gets her hands on the original case files, which have been locked away until now. Throughout the four episodes, Sian embarks on a quest to track down the original witnesses, piecing together the fragmented narratives.
The story begins in 1997 when the Gower family—David, a headmaster and a chemist, his wife Rose-Mary, and their children—moved into Penyffordd Farm. A pivotal moment that would later be deemed as the catalyst for the hauntings occurred when they moved a gravestone leaning against the house, which bore the name Jane Jones. The stone revealed that Jane had died in 1778 at the young age of 15. Rose-Mary Gower later claimed to have seen an apparition of a pregnant girl, cloaked and appearing mournful, wandering through the garden of the property. Historical records seem to align with this vision, as there was indeed a Jane Jones in the area who died at the age stated on the gravestone, likely in childbirth and denied a church burial due to her unmarried status.
The moving of Jane's gravestone, whether coincidentally or consequentially, seemed to open a floodgate of paranormal phenomena within the home. Words in Welsh, such as "peace," began to mysteriously materialise on the walls, their appearance eerie and unsettling despite the calmness of their meanings. Objects around the house appeared to move of their own volition. But perhaps the most startling incident was reported by the Gowers' daughter, Nicolette. After her parents moved to Eastbourne in 2002, Nicolette remained in the house with her husband and baby son. One night, she awoke to an alarming sight: a hooded figure, resembling a monk, was leaning ominously over her baby's cot. This vision, if genuine, would be enough to petrify anyone, and Nicolette's recounting of the event was imbued with palpable terror.
But as with many tales of the supernatural, skepticism shadowed the Gower family's claims. Rose-Mary was not a reclusive, quiet figure; she spoke openly about the haunting experiences on television shows and to the press, which prompted whispers within the community that she might have concocted the stories for attention. Could the haunting of Penyffordd Farm simply be an elaborate, theatrical ruse?
Further skepticism arose from the scientific community. A chemist posited a theory that the mysterious words appearing on the walls could have been craftily created by writing with salt water and painting over it with silver nitrate. Exposed to light, this chemical concoction would reveal the ‘ghostly' words—a clever trick, and one within the skillset of David Gower with his background in chemistry.
Complicating the story further was a psychologist Malcolm Schofield's notion of 'priming.' A year before the Gower's haunting experiences commenced, Irish hikers in the area claimed to have seen an apparition of the Virgin Mary in a nearby field. Could Rose-Mary have been subconsciously influenced by these reports, her mind thus 'primed' to perceive paranormal occurrences in her own home?
Amidst the swirling storm of spectral claims and skeptical rebuttals, the Penyffordd Farm narrative is tinged with the tragic. At the heart of this tale is a young girl, Jane Jones, whose short life ended in sorrow over two centuries ago. Whether her spirit truly lingers at Penyffordd Farm or not, her story, resurrected through a gravestone, has become inextricably woven into the haunting legacy of this ancient Welsh farmhouse.
To this day, the haunting of Penyffordd Farm remains a divisive topic. Some view the Gower family's experiences as genuine encounters with the unknown, while others regard them as elaborate tales spun from the fabric of imagination and circumstance. It is a story that, much like the apparitions themselves, lingers in the space between reality and the supernatural, leaving us to ponder where the truth truly lies.
'Paranormal: The Girl, The Ghost And The Gravestones' is available to watch in full on BBC iPlayer now and will air tonight, August 16, on BBC One.
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