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Monday, 29 October 2012

Witches and Ghosts in Wales

Vivid impression of a courthouse of the period.
Court House, Beaumaris, Anglesey.
As Hallowe’en approaches we should remember the first witch who was executed in Wales over four hundred years ago. In 1594 Gwen ferch Ellis of Betws-yn-rhos, near Conwy, was apprehended for leaving a charm in Gloddaeth, the home of Sir Thomas Mostyn.  She was taken to Flint castle, then partly used as a prison.  Witnesses were examined at the old parish church in Llansanffrasid Glan Conwy, since rebuilt, and some of Gwen’s neighbours claimed that she had harmed them through witchcraft. Gwen was later tried at the Denbighshire Great Sessions, found guilty of witchcraft, and sentenced to be hanged. One can still visit some of the places associated with Gwen’s tragic life. Gloddaeth still survives as St David’s College, and the courthouse at Beaumaris still gives a vivid impression of a courthouse of the period.
There is a full account of Gwen ferch Ellis and other Welsh witches in Richard Suggett’s book, A History of Magic and Witchcraft in Wales, published by The History Press (ISBN 978-0-75242-826-0)

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