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The ghosts of Llanelly House

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screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-12-06-48GERAINT HOPKINS is known in many parts of the world as ‘The Snakeman’. He has appeared in films and on TV on numerous occasions.

Geraint’s passion for snakes and other creatures, which at best are most people’s worst nightmares, extend into the paranormal, ghosts, ghouls and the macabre. ITV’s Phillip Schofield named him the ‘Gothic Ghost Hunter’. Geraint is able to tell many a story of ghosts who frequent a large number of properties across Wales but more specifically in his home town of Llanelli.

The Herald caught up with the Gothic Ghost Hunter at one of his spooky retreats, where he spilled the beans on one such ghost, who is rumoured to haunt Llanelly House.

Mira Turner was a servant at Llanelly House in the mid 1800s. Nothing unusual about that. Numerous girls went into servic e in the large houses in the Llanelli area at that time. There were even hiring fairs around the county where parents would take their sons and daughters in the hope that they might find work on a farm or at one of the large homes.

Mira would have gone into service, possibly as a naive young woman housed in a small room at the top of the building, where other servants might have dwelled. Of course, if you throw a lot of people together of the opposite sex, something will inevitably develop.

The theory Geraint puts forward is that Mira had a relationship with the house butler, Charles Howells. As anyone who ha read a trashy novel or watched old films knows, the butler always ends up ravaging the young servant girls or the lady of the house. It is a plausible theory so far.

Geraint claims that Mira has haunted Llanelly House since her death in 1851. The sightings have been handed down through history. They range from members of staff at the house claiming to have seen Mira walking down the stairs to recent visitors claiming that they felt a cold presence in the building.

Stories have circulated that Mira had taken a quantity of the poison laudanum after being found to be with child through the attentions of the butler. One explanation suggests that she fell down the stairs at Llanelly House having taken the poison. Geraint asserts that there is a definite presence on or around the stairs at Llanelly House.

Another version of the story is that having taken a swig of the poison, which we cannot rule out was not put there by that cad the galloping butler, poor Mira leapt from the window and landed with a splat on Vaughan Street. A recent local press release hailed a photograph of the said ghost, which had been taken by an ‘elderly gentleman’ who believed he had captured the ghost of Mira Turner. The internet quickly revealed the photo to be the product of that horrifying ghoul ‘an app’.

There is a record of Mira being buried on August 9, 1851, that we are certain of. She was a mere 22 years of age and her body lies in an unmarked grave near to the Georgian House. Cleaners, painters and decorators and other upright tradesmen and women of the town have said that they have caught sight of Mira at the house.

Geraint had the opportunity to look investigate the house long before what it is today: fully restored and the centrepiece in Llanelli’s history trail.

Armed with a ghost buster’s toolkit and enough electronic gadgets to fill a Maplins store, Geraint left no table cloth unturned as he crept through the house in search of vibrations, smells and gusts of wind. It is a good job he hadn’t visited The Herald offices or he would have found all of that in abundance.

Geraint has not been able to go back to the house to investigate since the renovations have taken place. However, the area of Llanelli in which the house is situated is synonymous with ghosts.

Geraint told us that there is also a horse drawn coach, which has been seen careering out of control down the hill at Gelli On and in some instances has driven clean through and out the other side of those who claim to have seen it. The coach, he told The Herald, was part of the funeral cortège of Sir Thomas Stepney, another name associated with Llanelly House.

The Herald has been known to frequent Llanelly House on occasions and we have indeed been up the stairs and into many of the rooms for various exhibitions.

In relation to the Sir Thomas Stepney coach, we were told: “You could hear the hoof beats pound as they raced across the ground. And the clatter of the wheels as they spun round and round. And the horse galloped into Stepney Street with a crest upon his chest. It was the funeral coach of Stepney and the fastest in the west.”

There really is only one way to find out if this is truly a tale to be feared.

Llanelly House is open for business most days and hosts a range of exhibitions upstairs and downstairs.

Geraint’s last words of warning to us were: “If it vibrates, smells bad and you feel a gust of wind, get out of there quick.”

Wise words, whether you suspect the presence of the undead or not.

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Conservatives in disarray over alleged Christmas party lockdown breach

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THE CONSERVATIVE Party is investigating the attendance of senior Senedd members and staff at a Christmas party held during December’s lockdown.

Lockdown restrictions prohibit mixing with people outside your own household.

The Welsh restrictions barring such gatherings follow the basic outline of those imposed by the Conservative UK Government in December.

Those attending the drinks party included Paul Smith, the Conservative Chief of Staff at the Senedd, Darren Millar, the Party’s Chief Whip and campaign coordinator, and Preseli Pembrokeshire MS and Conservative Senedd Group Leader Paul Davies.

The Herald understands that a Labour Senedd Member who attended the Party has been suspended by the Labour Senedd Group pending its own investigation.

The Conservatives’ embarrassment at talking the talk but not walking the walk is intensified by Darren Millar’s presence at the shindig.

In May, Mr Millar led calls for Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething to be sacked for eating a bag of chips in a park with one of his own children.

If the Conservative Party follows the logic of their previously stated positions, Mr Millar’s and Mr Davies’ futures look bleak indeed.

With a Senedd election only months away, the revelations have thrown the Conservatives into disarray.

If they do nothing, the Conservatives will – at the very least – face claims they are hypocrites.

If the Conservative Party acts decisively, it faces massive internal problems.

The Conservatives responded to our request for a response to our story.

Those involved stressed they did not host a Christmas Party.

The incident happened on December 8, when the above met in the members’ tea room to discuss legislation for possible inclusion in the Welsh Conservative manifesto with a Labour backbencher.

During the evening they did drink a glass or two of wine.

They stress that at no point were there more than four people in the room at any one time and that they maintained social distancing.

A joint statement from Paul Davies, Darren Millar, and Paul Smith said: “We are profoundly sorry for our actions.

“While we did not break the rules, we recognise that what was part of a day’s work would not be seen to be following the spirit of them, especially given the tough time the country has been going through.”

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Family tribute to Carole Patricia Fowler

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Carole was a teacher for 30 years at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Llanelli. She loved children and they loved her. 

As one of her past colleagues said: “I know she made such a difference to every child she taught.” She was very popular with staff and well respected and loved by parents. She was dedicated and conscientious, always 100% for the children. She led the music there and was always popular with her guitar accompaniments for services and concerts. 

Likewise, she was a valued member of the choir at Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church, Gendros, Swansea, where she would often accompany hymns with her guitar and gave guitar lessons to the children in the church’s Saturday Music Club. She was also a keen member of Côr Persain, Ammanford. 

She was talented, loved and in demand. A convicted and devout Catholic all her life, through good and bad.

Carole was an avid and very gifted crocheter and was always crocheting or knitting something for someone. She had been spending her time recently, during the Covid crisis, crocheting NHS teddies in scrubs and rainbows, with many given to practising nurses. Carole had recently started learning to make bobbin lace. She was also capable of some very decent sewing, too. 

She was also learning Welsh, doing ‘pilates’ and was considering taking up yoga lessons as well.

She was a busy lady! As one of her work colleagues said of her: “She was wise, strong, beautiful, generous, devout and feisty. And I loved her for all those qualities.”

Above all, she was an immeasurably loved Mam, daughter, sister and a doting Mamgu and so much loved by her fiancé. Having been together for 14 years, they would have been married last July 20th had covid allowed! 

Her premature passing at 61 is tragic and she is already sorely, painfully missed. She leaves behind a huge chasm in so many hearts that cannot be filled.

“Eternal rest grant unto her, o Lord, may perpetual light shine about her, may she rest in peace.”

If anyone witnessed the collision or may have been travelling on the M4 at the relevant time, please contact the Serious Collision Unit quoting police reference DPP-20210113-317

Police can be contacted either online at: bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

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Tip off leads to pensioner’s drug stash

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A BRIEFCASE full of drugs has been recovered during a raid in Swansea suburb.
Police acting on information provided by a member of the public executed a warrant in Gorseinon and recovered a large quantity of cannabis.
A man was arrested on suspicion of possession of the class B drug, with intent to supply.
A South Wales Police spokesman said: “At around 5.40pm on Wednesday, January 6, following an intelligence led operation, a 68 year-old man from Gorseinon was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply cannabis.
“He was taken to Swansea central police station for questioning. He has been released under investigation”.

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