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Elizabethan Mansion House. High Street, Conwy, Gwynedd.

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      12.03.2002 22:29
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      Growing up in a very run down area of inner city Manchester in the 1960's could have been a very bleak childhood indeed, however I had the best childhood anyone could have wished for, all due to the hard work of my Mum and Dad. We didn’t have a car so travelling distances was not always easy. Then in 1969 when I was 9 years old (I am giving my age away now!!) My uncle came picked all my family up, drove us to Conway and left us at a caravan for 1 week. I was the first person that I knew that had been on holiday for 1 week. We had the time of our lives. That was the first of many visits..the last being just a couple of years ago. Each time I see the castle coming in to view I feel 9 years old again. Conway is a very relaxed little town, but has a wealth of history to be explored,as well as a wonderfull little harbour and the Castle towering above it all. One of my lasting memories is my first visit to Plas Mawr, a large Elizabethan House which still stands proudly on High Street. It was built by Robert Wynne, son of Sir John Wynne of Gwydir, and he lived in the house with his wife Dorothy. Although as a tourist you now enter Plas Mawr through what used be the gatehouse, the original front faced Crown Lane and the doors still have massive draw bars by which they were secured. Behind the massive doors each room is full of the original furniture that was there and more lately exhibits of kitchen equipment give it real atmosphere..but it is not until you reach the Lantern room that you get the real feel of the house. In such an old house it is inevitable that thoughts of ghosts immediately spring to mind, and whilst the atmosphere can be creepy on a bright summers day, the Lantern room really comes into its own after dark. The story of the Lantern room is well known in the area for it has been recounted many times to each generation. It is said that one dark stormy November afternoon the
      lady of the house climbed to the top of the look out tower to see if there was any sign of her husband returning from sea. She had her small child with her and was also heavily pregnant, the climb tired her more than she realised, and after a while she grew weary of looking into the empty horizon and began to descend the stone spiral stairs, she took a terrible fall and dragged the child with her. On hearing the noise, the housekeeper rushed to help, and put her mistress and child to bed in the Lantern room, so called because it was from here that the light shone into the courtyard below. She sent a man servant rushing to get the doctor and sat with the mistress. The servant did not return, sending another servant after hours had passed was all she could do. He came back, not with the doctor that normally attended the family but with Doctor Dick, his young assistant. When Dr Dick announced that nothing could be done to save the child, his mother or her unborn baby, the housekeeper , anticipating the wrath of the master who was due home shortly, locked the Doctor in the room. Hours later the master returned, demanding to know where his wife was told the housekeeper to unlock the door. Dr Dick was nowhere to be seen, only the terrible sight of his dead child, dead wife and still born baby. Already tired from his long journey he walked around and around the room, wracked with grief until he dropped dead with exhaustion (A real bundle of laughs isn’t it!) The only escape for the Dr was up the wide chimney so it was assumed he climbed up to escape and died as he was never seen again. It is said that the master of the house still walks in the Lantern room and will do so until the bones of Doctor Dick are found and buried in the churchyard. When I first heard that story I cannot put into words the feeling I had when I first walked into that room, or the fact that I felt compelled to walk to the massive fireplace
      and take a look up to see if I could spot Dr Dick in there. I have since been back with my own children and told them the story, and looked into their wide eyes as we approached the room. If you are ever in Conway it really is worth a visit, last time we were there it cost us about £10 to get in, that was for all 4 of us, we had the use of a recording to listen to as we travelled around the house, whereas in 1969 a little wisened old man took us round and told the story..that couldn’t have been Dr Dick could it !!!!!!

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