Welcome back horror author Catherine Cavendish, who returns to regale us with another true spooky tale.
I have been asked many times whether living in Wales, with its wealth of legends, myths and mysterious places, gave me ideas for my stories.
Let’s just say that it never hurts, as a horror writer – particularly one who specialises in the ghostly and gothic – to live in a location so steeped in history and the supernatural.
So let’s take a trip around one of the most significant of these – North Wales Hospital, down the road from me in Denbigh.
Also known as Denbigh Asylum, this is a vast, imposing building standing out in its solitary and neglected position in the countryside, just outside the small market town of Denbigh in North Wales.
It is said that it stands on ground cursed by witches who were once tried and executed there. Their restless, evil spirits are believed to still roam that lonely place….
Built between 1844 and 1848, the North Wales Hospital was the first psychiatric institution of its kind to be built in Wales and was then known as The North Wales Lunatic Asylum. It was considerably extended over the years, culminating in a capacity of 1500 live-in patients and1000 staff by 1956.
Here were performed many ground-breaking procedures for the first time: malarial treatments, insulin shock treatments, use of sulfur-based drugs and later, the controversial electro convulsive therapy (ECT) and personality-changing prefrontal lobotomy treatments, introduced in the early 1940s.
Major reforms of the National Health Service over many years led to the hospital’s eventual closure in 1995 and the building has been crumbling ever since. It is now in a dangerous condition and should not be visited by anyone, as their safety cannot be ensured. In April this year a fire badly damaged a wing of the building. One day, it will be demolished and redeveloped, turned into offices and houses – or maybe a hotel. They’ve been saying so for years, so it must be true. Right?
Of course, that is not to say it is empty. The wind whips through collapsed roofs and whistles along vast, meandering corridors. Paint peels from walls and the many wards have long been stripped of anything of value. Its warped windows bang shut. Glass shatters from rotten frames. Pigeons and other birds make nests in its rafters. It’s a playground for the local feral cat population.
But they are not alone. Not according to armies of paranormal investigators who have set up camp there. A team of fans of the paranormal who travel around the UK investigating possible hauntings have reported their evidence on their fascinating website Totally Haunted. See what you make of the sounds they captured.
With so much notoriety, it was inevitable that the producers of the UK TV program ‘Most Haunted Live’ should choose to pay it a visit and, in October 2008, they performed a special week-long investigation there. Their presenter, Yvette Fielding, produced more than her usual quota of trademark, bloodcurdling screams as unexplained bangs, crashes and unusual sounds and sightings sent viewers scurrying for cushions to hide behind. Black magic, witches’ spells, curses and a ritual cleansing are just some of the phenomena that saw Dr. Ciaran O’Keeffe, their resident parapsychologist, reaching for his latest techno-gadget. You can capture the flavour of it here:
As for the hospital: is it or isn’t it? Are there any haunted places, or are they just echoes? Memories of times and events locked into a location and stored for posterity? Will we ever know for sure? In a way, I hope not. It’s nice sometimes to keep a little mystery….
Meanwhile, as they say in all the best crime shows – and paraphrased at the end of each episode of ‘Most Haunted’:
“Don’t have nightmares. Sleep well…”
There are ghosts and devils and paranormal activity in my novella The Demons of Cambian Street. Here’s what to expect:
Sometimes evil wears a beautiful face…
After her illness, the quiet backwater of Priory St. Michael seemed the ideal place for Stella to recuperate. But in the peaceful little town, something evil is slumbering, waiting for its chance to possess what it desires. When Stella and her husband move into the long-empty apartment, they’re unaware of what exists in the cupboard upstairs, the entrance to an evil that will threaten both their lives…
You can buy The Demons of Cambian Street here:
Following a varied career in sales, advertising, and career guidance, Catherine Cavendish is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. Cat’s novels include the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy – Wrath of the Ancients, Waking the Ancients and Damned by the Ancients, plus The Devil’s Serenade,The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine.
Her novellas, Cold Revenge, Miss Abigail’s Room, The Demons of Cambian Street, The Devil Inside Her, andThe Second Wife have now been released in new editions by Crossroad Press.
She lives with her long-suffering husband, and a black cat who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshipped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue. Cat and her family divide their time between Liverpool and a 260-year-old haunted apartment in North Wales.
You can connect with Cat here: