"...we should pass over all biographies of 'the good and the great,' while we search carefully the slight records of wretches who died in prison, in Bedlam, or upon the gallows."
~Edgar Allan Poe

Monday, December 25, 2017

The Poltergeist That Stole Christmas

Unwanted houseguests over the Christmas holidays are always a pain.

Especially if they're poltergeists.

On December 25, 1812, Robert Roberts, a tenant farmer in the Welsh village of Bodeugan, wrote to his landlord what may go down as the best excuse ever for not sending a Christmas gift. Roberts explained that he had been unable to send the customary holiday geese because his home was haunted.

On the first day of the month, he wrote, "Something" began breaking his windows by throwing stones and coals through them. The following day, the "Something" began plaguing the farm's dairy by shattering the pots containing milk, and throwing "cans and other things" at the household. "That night it was so terrible that the women left the house and went to a neighbour's house...it threw stones bricks and the like that they had no quiet to milk by throwing dung upon them."

For several days after that, the "Something" was quiet. Unfortunately, it started up again, throwing water and glasses at the residents "that we were so wet as we had been in a river." All manner of household articles were tossed around and destroyed.

Ten days of peace followed, and the Roberts household thought their eerie ordeal was over. Then on Christmas Eve, "Something" returned, "more dangerous" than ever. The servants were kicked, pinched, and hurled to the ground by invisible forces. Bedclothes were thrown on the floor. The spirit did "a great deal of damage," and so terrified Roberts' wife that she became seriously ill. Roberts could only conclude that "some malicious person or persons had been with some of the conjurors." In other words, where modern-day observers would think "poltergeist," a 19th century Welshman would immediately assume he was the target of witchcraft.

Understandably enough, the landlord wanted to know more about the demons visiting his property. He sent two men named Hughes and Lloyd to investigate the matter. These paranormal sleuths claimed to have caught one of the servants in the act of throwing a potato and a pepper-pot. The girl denied this allegation, but Hughes and Lloyd saw it as "case closed." The farm was being plagued by nothing more than mischievous household help. The Roberts family, however, took the servant's side, asserting their belief in her innocence. Hughes and Lloyd conceded that it was possible "that the Ghost might have made use of her hands to throw things."

Unfortunately, the surviving documentation on this case (preserved today in the Flintshire County archives) ends on this irritatingly inconclusive note. History is silent on when life at the Roberts farm returned to normal, and if the cause of the family's persecution was indeed a troublesome servant...or something a great deal more inexplicable.

[Note: the farmhouse--which dates from the late 17th century--is still extant. Truly, it is a case of "if only walls could speak..."]


  1. Is it me, or is Wales an extraordinarily haunted country?

    Merry Christmas to you, Undine, and to the cat staff of Strange Company. I hope your Yuletide is peaceful and content, untroubled by ghosts, demons, poltergeists, bizarre crimes (or normal ones) or anything else that you may be able to report upon.

    1. I'm not sure if Wales is unusually high in numbers of ghosts, but they certainly seem to have unusually interesting ones.

      Hope you and your four-legged crew had a great Christmas, John! (Although, I don't know what my Yuletide would be without ghosts and demons.)

  2. Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to you Undine! Once again you have filled the year with highly entertaining posts about mysterious events from the past which have provided us all with laughs, consternation and a great deal of food for thought. I used to live in Wales and sadly never had anything happen to me there that was half as interesting! I'm very much looking forward to seeing what stories you will tell us in 2018...

    1. Thank you! I hope you all enjoy the weird year I've planned ahead.

  3. ""Something" began breaking his windows by throwing stones and coals through them."

    Damn, can't even punish these spirits by giving them coal for Christmas!


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