|Posted by Paranormal History / CJ Linton on June 8, 2010 at 7:32 AM|
Tredegar House stands today as an impressive late 17th century building, both the building and the grounds cover around 90 acres of land and tell the history of this part of Britain for many centuries, but mainly for only one family, the Morgan’s.
For five hundred years the Morgan family lived at Tredegar House, obviously their first home would have been a much different affair than the grand manor home we see today. In 1402 Llewellyn ap Morgan held the land and had a house built on the site, this time period, and indeed this year of 1402 was during the period of the Welsh uprisings headed by Owain Glyn Dwr (Owain Glyndŵr) and as a result of this the English passed a series of laws against Welsh people, known as the Welsh Penal Laws. This forbade welshmen from holding senior official titles, the bearing of arms or buying Property in England. Education of Welsh children was forbidden as well as people being allowed to gather for public assembelies, these rules applied to Englishmen who married Welshwomen too. Overall they were designed to stop the Welsh from gathering together and heading off to give the local English lord a bloody nose. It is debatable if this system worked or even if it was implemented to its fullest extent, the laws were ended in 1535-42 by the Laws in Wales Acts. However this highlights the question, were the Morgan’s Welsh?
The answer is… probably, it is thought the Morgan heritage actually goes back as far as 1089 when Bledri, third son of Cadifor Fawr Lord of Cil-Sant, was on good terms with the Norman conquererors of England. They in turn gave Bledri lands in Monmouthshire, where his name appears as one of many witnesses to a church grant to Bassaleg of Glastonbury. So where does the Morgan name come in? Well sixth in line from Bledri is Llywellyn ab Ifor who marries the sole daughter and heir of Sir Morgan ap Maredydd and their children inherit the lands of their grandfather, of which Tredegar is named.
The Morgan family seem to have kept themselves to themselves during the turbulent times of the Welsh Revolts, in fact despite laws preventing Welshmen from doing so it seems the Morgans took part in political goings on in this period, Llywelyn ap Morgan himself sat on a jury in this time period. Llywelyn passed on Tredegar to his son Jevan, who in turn gave tredegar to his son John, known in welsh as “Y Marchog Tew”. He is remembered in a bard written in 1460, this story / poem tells of his trip to Jerusalem where we was created a Knight of the Holy Sepulchure. Sir John came home to once more find the land in trouble, for it was the time of the Wars of the Roses and although it seems his family had always tried to stay on the fence Sir John Morgan instead fervently supported one side, or rather one man. Luckily for the Morgans that man was Henry ap Tudor who won at Bosworth (with Morgans help) and went on to create the Tudor dynasty. Sir John Morgan, despite going to Jerusalem and fighting in the Wars of the Roses still found time to father ten children! His eldest, Sir John Morgan was knighted after the Battle of Blackheath. The lands and house of Tedegar passed from father to son and some of these men lived truly remarkable lives and held various Welsh titles and estates, from Sherrifs to Sea Captains. In fact one Morgan, Miles Morgan, married Catherine Morgan, a relative of his and died when his ship, the Red Lion, sunk in a colonizing expedition to the America’s in 1578. When Miles’ ship went down he had no heir, but in his will (written before he left) he gave the lands of Tredegar to his brother in law Thomas Morgan, he was both Sheriff of Monmouthshire and a member of parliament, as was his son, who in 1603 was knighted Sir William Morgan. Again a Morgan found himself in a land beset by civil war, the Morgans this time chose the wrong side and opted to support the King in his fight with Parliament.
Or did they? King Charles stayed at Tredegar on the 16th and 17th July 1645, no doubt he was in much remorse for his main army in England had been destroyed at Naseby in June, however at this time there was still hope for Charles as in Scotland the Royalists there, under Montrose, had fought well at the battle of Alford in Aberdeenshire. If Montrose could come south then Charles would still have an army in the field to perhaps salvage victory from defeat, in the end Montrose’s men were defeated in August at Philliphaugh and the war was truly lost. But what part did any Morgan play in this, well in the aftermath of Naseby people within the Royalist army began to look for reasons for their defeat, one of these scapegoats were the Morgans who were branded as “Hinderers” to the Kings cause, both Sir William Morgan and his son-in-law Sir Trevor Williams were arrested on the 11th September by orders of the King. It was Charles however who lost his head before anything could become of Sir William and so Sir William Morgan was reinstated as MP for Monmouthshire in 1654, his lands and title were passed to his eldest son by his first marriage, Thomas Morgan MP passed on to his third son his position as MP, also named William Morgan. There was also a Sir Anthony Morgan of Kilfigin who was not allowed his lands back post civil war because he was a “Papist delinquent”. Sir Anthony was a son of Sir William, but by his second wife, where as Thomas and William came from his first wife.
Thomas was succeeded by his eldest son William, who married his first cousin Blanche Morgan (do these people have three ears?) Next in line was another Thomas Morgan, who gave Tredegar to his brother John when he died without an heir, He was appointed custos rotulorum for Monmouthshire in 1700 and Lord Lieutenant of Brecknock and Monmouthshire in 1715 . He was a strong supporter of the Whigs and represented Monmouthshire in Parliament from 1701 till his death. In the late 1600’s and early 1700’s the reign of Britain was taken from James II to William of Orange and his wife Mary. In other words from a Catholic family, to a Protestant one. John Morgan, who held Tredegar at this time, amassed a fortune and was known as “the merchant” for his trading empire, with these funds he rebuilt Tredegar House from its fifteenth century base to the house we can still see today, as well as the house there are stables and an orangery, this was a place where exotic citrus fruits could be housed during winter, a little like putting that exotic palm fern into a modern day greenhouse today.
Thomas Morgan passed on his estate and fortune to his son William Morgan who was MP for Monmouthshire, his brothers had died before him and as he had no children the Tredegar lands went to his uncle, Thomas Morgan of Rhiwpera (an estate bought by Thomas “the merchant” Morgan). Thomas Morgan of Rhiwpera was also known as “The general” and was MP for the Borough of Brecon. His eldest son was also named Thomas Morgan, this time with the nickname Thomas “the Younger”. This Thomas was also an MP, firstly for Brecon and then for Monmouthshire. Devoting his life to politics meant that Thomas never took a wife and so he left everything to his brother Charles Morgan of Dderw who also took up positions at parliament for both Brecon and Brecknock. Charles lived as his elder brother did and died without an heir, therefore the estate of Tredegar (among other estates) passed to the third brother and son of “the General”, John Morgan. John Morgan’s right to being MP for Monmouthshire was at first contested by a “nabob”, Valentine Morris of Peircefield. Morgan won and became the MP for Monmouthshire. For a brief period the Morgan line died out as after John Morgan the line of succession passed through his elder daughter Jane, she had married Charles Gould. This Charles Gould held very prominent positions within the government of Britain, including being MP for Brecon.
Charles Gould was knighted and given a baronet in 1779, the day after he changed his name to Charles Morgan, thus re-establishing the Morgan name in the region and country at large. Charles and Jane passed on their wealth and estates to their eldest son, also named Charles; he in turn passed on everything to his eldest son, again another Charles Morgan. This Charles was famed for his liberal views and in protecting his agricultural workers in the Brecon and Monmouthshire regions; he was the first Baron of Tredegar. This Charles had three sons and split the estates between all three, his first son Charles was MP for Brecon, his second son Godfrey became Baron and Viscount of Tredegar whilst his third son Frederick took control of Rhiwpera Castle. Godfrey and Frederick, unable to enter parliament as their elder brother had took to the military to better themselves. Both fought during the Crimean War with Godfrey being commissioned as Captain in the 17th Lancers, a Regiment involved in the “Charge of the Light Brigade” episode of the battle of Balaclava. Godfrey passed on Tredegar to his nephew (after dying unmarried in 1913) Courtenay Morgan. Courtenay lost the Vicountancy when his uncle died but he still became Baron Tredegar, his son however took the Tredegar title and became Viscount F.C Morgan in 1926. This Morgan in turn passed on Tredegar to his only son, Evan Morgan who lived until 1949.
After the death of Evan Morgan the lands of Tredegar never had a Morgan in control again, a sad end to a long and illustrious succession. Tredegar house became a school for around 20 years before being taken over by Newport County Council who still hold reign over the property today.
Ghosts of course abound in this old house, of course not only would the Morgan family call Tredegar home but also the army of servants would too. Up in the attic, where many servants would sleep, the spirit of a Victorian or Edwardian period man has been sensed by mediums, he is said to be annoyed at people being in the area. Within the attic is the Architects office where there are stories of a haunted hat-stand. A man named Vernon Morgan worked there in the 1980’s, one day he placed his coat on the hat stand, at which point his co-worker told him it was a waste of time as it would fall off, surely enough the next time either of them looked at the stand Vernon’s coat was indeed on the floor. The hat stand was moved to a smoking room further below and the strange phenomena stopped, presumably whatever was throwing coats about is still in the office.
Whilst as a school a pupil reported being moved in his bed (again as a boarder his bed was in the attic area). He claims to have seen a man in waistcoat and round glasses standing over him whilst he was trying to sleep. Other parts of Tredegar are haunted too, namely the Bells passage and Family Dining room are both haunted by a little girl in a white dress, she has been seen and sensed in both these areas many times, in fact this little girl has touched people, pulled on fingers and peoples dresses though it may only be women she is capable of communicating with in such ways. In the corridor leading to the bachelors staircase people have reported hearing their names, or other words called out. Despite the name of the location within the building the voice has been reported as that of a lady, and not as you might presume that of an inebriated young bachelor dragging himself from the billiard room to his bed. A woman has been seen dressed in white here too, but not for around 90 years.
Rumour has it the woman in white could be named Gwyneth Erica Morgan, sister of Evan Morgan the last Morgan in possession of Tredegar. Gwyneth lived in London in the 1920’s and one evening simply left her home and was not seen for some months, she finally reappeared floating dead near Lime House Dock. Many stories abound as to how and why she met her death, it is thought her pockets were full of stones and she had committed suicide. It is believed she haunted Tredegar because her father (Courtenay) refused to bring her body home and bury it at Bassaleg, the ancestral family burial grounds. Suicide at this period of history was worse than Murder and Courtenay could not forgive his daughter for this shame she had supposedly brought on the Morgan family.
It is also said the ghost of John Morgan “the Merchant” haunts his old bedchamber, strange goings on have been reported here, especially when it comes to camera batteries (in fact this happens in other parts of the house too). One medium on a tour of the location suddenly developed a limp, complained of a bad back and went blind in one eye. Only one member of staff knew that these symptoms were also suffered by John Morgan some 300 years previously and the only place this information was kept was in a box at the Wales National Library.
So why do so many ghosts call Tredegar home? Obviously it’s a very old building with lots of occupation, both in its own walls and on the site in general. However it is believed by some that when people practice the occult it draws spirits into locations, and it is this reason which may point to Tredegar’s supernatural goings on. The last Morgan in control of Tredegar, Evan Morgan, was a keen practitioner in the occult, during the late Victorian age all the way to the late 1940’s people living in stately homes would often attempt séances after the grand dinner parties, usually more for their entertainment than any actual attempt at contacting the dead. Evan Morgan however was different, he took the séances to a whole new level and even had his own “magic room”, this meant a room full of curiosities such as hairy fish or skeletons of mermaids, all fake of course, in fact many people wrote in their own diaries about visiting Tredegar and being part of Evan’s strange occult practices.
Aleister Crowley, probably the best known practioner in the occult at this time period described his visit to Tredegar in his own journal, an excerpt of which states the house had “the largest and best equipped magic room that I have ever seen”, praise from Caesar indeed! Occult images and adornments were said to have festooned the entire house and upon Evan’s death they were all taken out by a loyal footman and buried in the grounds somewhere, just like the exact location of Evan’s magic room the place where these are buried is a mystery.
In fact Tredegar is just that itself, a massive house of mystery, history and ghosts.
Thank you for your time.
Categories: Haunted Buildings