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A curious night at Swansea Museum with Mark Rees

The Swansea Devil and The A-Z of Curious Wales by Mark Rees

Please join me for a curious night at Swansea Museum!

Is the Swansea Devil really cursed? We’re about to find out on what promises to be the most curious night in Swansea Museum’s illustrious history!

In search of the curse

It sounds like an unlikely story, but the Swansea Devil is said to be cursed and, as such, was responsible for burning down a church.

To find out for certain, a world-exclusive paranormal experiment will be conducted at Swansea Museum to establish once and for all if there’s any truth to the legend.

On Friday, August 2, 6.30pm, writer Mark Rees will launch his new book THE A-Z OF CURIOUS WALES with an evening’s entertainments at the historic venue.

The author will be in conversation with Swansea Sound favourite Phil Hoyles, and will be joined by some special guests for an hour or so of storytelling, talks, and a few spooky surprises along the way.

Also joining in the curious fun will be one of Wales’ leading paranormal investigation groups, Cymru Paranormal.

The gang will be putting their years of experience to the test by using the latest in ghost hunting technology to see if they can pick up anything unusual with the satanic statue.

The Swansea Devil at Swansea Museum

The curse of the Swansea Devil

According to the legend, a prophesy placed on ‘Old Nick’ at the end of the nineteenth century claimed that he would would watch on as St Mary’s church burnt to the ground.

Perched on the adjacent building, his creator declared: ‘My devil will be able to leer and laugh, for at some future time he will see St Mary’s burning to the ground.’

During the Second World War the church, along with much of Swansea city centre, did indeed get destroyed during the Three Nights’ Blitz. But the building on which the devil rested survived unscathed.

Coincidence? You can read the whole story in THE A-Z OF CURIOUS WALES, and learn more of his move to Swansea Museum in this Folklore Thursday article.

The A-Z of Curious Wales by Mark Rees

A “curious” night at the museum

It would be great if you could join Mark Rees and guests for a “curious” night at the museum:

Where: Swansea Museum, Victoria Road, Swansea SA1 1SN

When: Friday, August 2, 6.30pm

How much: Entry is free

Please in get in touch if you have any questions, check out the Mark Rees: Books page for all available titles, and see you at the museum!

The A-Z of Curious Wales, the new book from Mark Rees, is OUT NOW!

The A-Z of Curious Wales, the new book from Mark Rees, is OUT NOW!

After months of blood, sweat and tears (OK, maybe not blood and sweat), my new book THE A-Z OF CURIOUS WALES is available now from all good bookshops.

Published by The History Press, it’s an alphabetical journey through the weird and wonderful history of Cymru, from awe-inspiring ancient monuments to the more recent magical yarns of Harry Potter.

The book has been modelled on similar collections which were popularised during the Victorian era, and crams in more than 100 unusual accounts from throughout the centuries.

Is that a different cover?

The eagle-eyed among you might have noticed that the finished cover (below) looks a little different to the one I posted previously.

Apologies, if it was up to me I would have kept the old one, but I can assure you that the contents inside remain the same!

The A-Z of Curious Wales, the new book from Mark Rees, is OUT NOW!

What’s The A-Z of Curious Wales all about?

Here’s the blurb from the publisher:

The A-Z of Curious Wales by Mark Rees

“Wales’ history is packed with peculiar customs and curious characters. Here you will discover alien landscapes, ancient druids and a Victorian ghost hunter.

Find out why revellers would carry a decorated horse’s skull on a pole door to door at Christmastime, how an eccentric inventor hoped to defeat Hitler with his futuristic ray gun, and why a cursed wall is protected by a global corporation for fear it might destroy a town.

From the folklore surrounding the red dragon on the flag, to the evolution of the song ‘Sosban Fach’, this compendium of weird and wonderful facts will surprise and delight even the most knowledgeable resident or visitor.”

Will there be a book launch?

Oh yes!

I’ve got a suitably “curious” book launch lined up at Swansea Museum on Friday, August 2, 2019, 6.30pm – full details TBC soon.

If you can’t make it to the Swansea date, fear not – I’ll be popping up in all sorts of places throughout the summer, and if you’d like a signed copy please let me know.

Want to know more?

If that’s whetted your appetite, you can buy THE A-Z OF CURIOUS WALES online here.

You can also read about my previously published works in the MARK REES: BOOKS section.

Enjoy!

NEW BOOK: The A-Z of Curious Wales is available for pre-order

My next book The A-Z Of Curious Wales is available to pre-order… now!

You can also have a sneak peek at a low-quality proof the cover (below), which might change before publication (UPDATE: Yes, it did change before publication!):

The A-Z of Curious Wales by Mark Rees

Here’s the publisher’s blurb:

The A-Z of Curious Wales by Mark Rees

“Strange Stories of Mysteries, Crimes and Eccentrics. Why would revellers carry a terrifying horse’s skull on a pole door-to-door at Christmastime? Why is the cursed wall of Port Talbot protected by a global corporation for fear it might destroy the town? How did a Swansea genius help to defeat Hitler by inventing a futuristic radar gun?

From the origins of the red dragon on the flag to the true identity of the Men of Harlech, this compendium of weird and wonderful facts will surprise even those who thought they really knew their country.”

The book will be in all good bookshops in June 3, 2019. More updates soon, and to pre-order visit: A-Z Of Curious Wales.


I’m writing a new “weird Wales” talk to coincide with the book’s release, and will be touring venues / shops / libraries this summer. If you would like me to pay a visit, please get in touch – the more the merrier!


Ghosts of Wales on Folklore Thursday

Mark Rees/ Ghosts of Wales on Folklore Thursday

Mark Rees’ research into the “Ghosts of Wales” can be read on the Folklore Thursday website

The “Ghosts of Wales” are no ordinary ghost stories, and Folklore Thursday is no ordinary website.

On Mark Rees’ Folklore Thursday page you’ll find tales of:

• A murderer who returned from beyond the grave.

• A two-headed phantom which terrorised a community.

• A pesky poltergeists which haunted industrial workplaces.

• A cursed statue of the Devil which is said to have burnt down a church.

You can read all about them and more here: Mark Rees on Folklore Thursday.

Ghosts of Wales on Folklore Thursday

Mark says:

“Anyone who follows me on Twitter will know that I’m a huge fan of Folklore Thursday.

It’s a wonderful way for like-minded people around the world to get together and spend an entire day sharing weird and wonderful snippets of folklore, beliefs, customs and traditions every Thursday using the #FolkloreThursday hashtag.

But as well as being an ever-growing social media craze, Folklore Thursday is also one of the one best websites out there.

In 2018, I contributed three pieces which relate to archive accounts published in Ghosts of Wales. In 2019, I added an account of the diabolical Swansea Devil.

You can check them out by following the links below, and after reading them why not stick around and explore the rest of the site while you’re there?

But beware – with so much fascinating folklore to discover, it might feel like you’ve been whisked away by the fairy folk for seven years!

What stories are available?

THE PIT OF GHOSTS: EXPLORING THE HAUNTED MINES OF VICTORIAN WALES

THE TWO-HEADED GHOST THAT TERRORISED A WELSH COMMUNITY

DEADLY GHOSTS: THE MURDERER WHO RETURNED FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE

HOW A “CURSED” VICTORIAN DEVIL STATUE DESTROYED A WELSH CHURCH

Be sure to keep an eye out for more as they materialise…

Read more in Ghosts of Wales: Accounts from the Victorian Archives

Ghosts of Wales: Accounts from the Victorian Archives by Mark Rees

For more real-life Welsh ghost stories check out Ghosts of Wales: Accounts from the Victorian Archives, available now from all good bookshops and online.

Signed copies are available from The Comix Shoppe in Swansea.

You can also read out more about “haunted Wales” here.

Ghosts of Wales on the Weird Wacky Wonderful Stories Podcast

Mark Rees was the guest on new episode of the Weird Wacky Wonderful Stories podcast

Did I ever tell you about the real-life Scooby-Doo dog who hunted ghosts in Victorian Wales? No? Well, now you can hear all about it in an interview I recorded for the Weird Wacky Wonderful Stories Podcast.

Hosts Shelly and Bella were kind enough to invite me on the show to chat about Ghosts of Wales: Accounts from the Victorian Archives, and lots of other paranormal subjects as well.

Topics included ghost hunting TV shows and Wales’ “most haunted” places.

I narrated some tales from the book, including some pesky farmyard poltergeists and “the two-headed phantom of Abersychan“, and it also gave me a chance to talk about some unpublished yards which failed to make the final book.

I was also allowed to get on my soapbox and have a little rant about one of my pet hates when it comes to some paranormal investigators – those who keep their findings to themselves and refuse to share!

I’ll be writing a full blog post on that soon, but seriously (mini rant warning!) – if everyone is out searching for the same thing, why not work together like one big happy family and help each other?

How can I listen to Mark Rees on the Weird Wacky Wonderful Stories podcast?

It’s episode 39, entitled “Mark Rees – Ghosts of Wales.”

You can find it on their website, or Apple Podcasts here.

Read more Ghosts of Wales stories

Ghosts of Wales: Accounts from the Victorian Archives by Mark Rees

To read more about these tales, and plenty more spine-chilling stories which have gone unseen for more than a century, check out Ghosts of Wales: Accounts from the Victorian Archives.

NEW BOOK: The Little Book of Welsh Landmarks out now

The Little Book of Welsh Landmarks by Mark Rees

The Little Book of Welsh Landmarks is available now from all good bookshops.

The Little Book of Welsh Landmarks, the second “little book” from Mark Rees, is available now.

Following on from The Little Book of Welsh Culture (The History Press, 2016), this was by far the most challenging book that I’ve written to date.

From the research to the planning stage, this was a tough one. In fact, it was quite a relief to hold the finished article in my hands and to know that it was all done and dusted – finally!

It’s available in all good bookshops and online retailers, but if you have any trouble finding it, or would like a signed copy, as always please get in touch.

What’s the book about?

Here’s the publisher’s blurb from the back of the book:

From the snowy peaks of Snowdonia to the glorious Wales Coastal Path, this compelling compendium is a fact-filled journey through Wales’ most iconic landmarks and popular tourist attractions.

Experience the country’s immense history, from the breathtaking World Heritage Sites to the UK’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the countless castles, secluded beaches, mystical rivers and hidden gems which can be found across the land.

This handy book can be dipped into time and time again to reveal something new about the people, the heritage and the secrets of Cymru.

Can I order The Little Book of Welsh Landmarks online?

You can indeed! Click here to order The Little Book of Welsh Landmarks.

What about The Little Book of Welsh Culture?

First published in 2016 by The History Press, The Little Book of Welsh Culture is also available from all good book shops.

Here’s the blurb from the back of the book:

The Little Book of Welsh Culture by Mark Rees
The Little Book of Welsh Culture by Mark Rees

The Little Book of Welsh Culture is a fast-paced, fact-filled journey through the cultural heritage of Wales, exploring the rich history of its literature, festivals, performing arts, visual arts and music, and unearthing some fascinating secrets and hidden gems along the way.

Crammed full of myths, traditions, birthplaces and personalities, experience the country’s immense artistic legacy as never before, from the medieval legends surrounding King Arthur and The Mabinogion to its modern-day transformation into a thriving film location for big-screen blockbusters. Discover the truth behind the druidic rituals of the National Eisteddfod, separate the facts from the fiction that surround Dylan Thomas’ infamous lifestyle, and learn how Wales successfully regenerated the Doctor Who franchise.

Click here to order The Little Book of Welsh Culture by Mark Rees

Mark Rees records Christmas ghost story special for BBC Radio Wales

Mark Rees, author of Ghosts of Wales, will be talking about corpse candles and death omens on a special episode of festive ghost stories for BBC Radio Wales.

Mark Rees, author of Ghosts of Wales, will be talking about corpse candles and death omens on a special episode of festive ghost stories for BBC Radio Wales.

Ahead of Christmas, the BBC in Wales are broadcasting a series of creepy specials with each looking at a different supernatural subject.

Mark has recorded an episode dedicated to these eerie omens and death, and other supernatural phenomena.

When can I listen to Mark Rees on BBC Radio Wales?

The corpse candles episode – or canwyll corff, to give them their correct Welsh name – forms a part of BBC Radio Wales’s series of Christmas ghost stories.

It will be broadcast twice on Friday, December 21, 2018, and can be listened to on-demand on BBC iPlayer soon afterwards.

What are corpse candles?

Corpse candles are mysterious spectral lights which have haunted the lonely roads of Wales for centuries.

Here’s a brief description of these ominous death portents taken from Ghosts of Wales: Accounts from the Victorian Archives:

The ghostly lights, which are interpreted as a sign of impending death, were common throughout Wales, but were particularly prevalent in ‘the counties of Cardigan, Carmarthen, and Pembroke’. They are called candles for ‘their resemblance, not to the body of the candles but the fire’.

“The candles are said to travel on a fixed route, possibly the same path a sick or a dying person will follow on the way to their upcoming funeral.”

Mark Rees, Ghosts of Wales: Accounts from the Victorian Archives

The candles are said to travel on a fixed route, possibly the same path a sick or a dying person will follow on the way to their upcoming funeral, and will change in appearance if they come within close proximity of a human being:

‘In their journey, these candles are sometimes visible and sometimes disappear, especially if anyone comes near to them, or in the way to meet them. On these occasions they vanish, but presently appear again behind the observer, and hold on their course.’

The colours, quantities, and the direction of the corpse candles can also affect their meaning: ‘Sometimes these candles point out the places where persons shall sicken and die. They have also predicted the drowning of persons passing a ford.’

Tell me more about corpse candles and other Welsh death omens

For more about corpse candles and other death omens such as Jack y Lantern, the Welsh jack-o’-lantern, check out the Ghosts of Wales: Accounts from the Victorian Archives book.

You can also visit the page dedicated to all things Ghosts of Wales, keep an eye on the news page for updates, and get in touch for more details.

Halloween premiere for Ghosts of Wales theatre show

Yes, you read that right – Ghosts of Wales is now a theatre show!

I’m very pleased to announce that my spooky stories have been adapted for the stage, and premiered in Swansea this October.

It’s called Phantoms, and it was the perfect way to count down to Halloween

Where did the idea come from?

Sitting at home reading spooky stories by candlelight is all well and good, but there’s something EXTRA special about experiencing them in a dimly-lit auditorium.

So for Halloween 2018, I teamed up with my good friends at Fluellen Theatre Company to bring three long-lost ghost stories to the theatre stage.

And not just any old ghost stories. To make things even creepier, these are all based on real-life paranormal activity reported in Wales.

Yes, as they like to warn us on TV and at the cinema, this ghostly show is “based on true events”!

Phantoms: A stage play based on Ghosts of Wales by Mark Rees
Phantoms: A stage play based on Ghosts of Wales by Mark Rees

So what’s the Phantoms theatre play all about?

Entitled Phantoms, the script was adapted by playwright extraordinaire Francis Hardy.

It premiered to a packed Swansea Grand Theatre Arts Wing on Saturday, October 27, 2018 – just in time for Nos Calan Gaeaf – and the performance went very well.

And by well, I mean everyone jumped and laughed in all the right places, and the feedback has been fantastic.

Phantoms: A stage play based on Ghosts of Wales by Mark Rees
The finished article: Mark Rees proudly pointing at the finished Phantoms script.

The cast and creative team behind Phantoms

A huge thank you to the fantastic team who brought the magic to life:

The cast:

  • Brendan Purcell as The Storyteller

All other characters played by

  • Matthew Bool
  • Georgia Griffiths
  • Alison Lenihan
  • Christopher Pegler-Lambert
  • Director: Peter Richards
  • Stage manager: Claire Novelli
  • Sound and lighting: Richard Davies
Phantoms: A stage play based on Ghosts of Wales by Mark Rees
“She’s behind you!”: The cast of Phantoms at Swansea Grand Theatre

When can I see Phantoms in the theatre next?

Any upcoming dates will be announced by Fluellen Theatre Company. Keep an eye on their website, and be sure to tell them that you’d love to see Phantoms soon!

If anyone is interested in hosting the production, or maybe even staging your own version, then please get in touch.

What did you think?

If you were one of the lucky people in the audience who caught Phantoms (and survived to tell the tale!) I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Please get in touch via the contact page.

For more Welsh ghost stories, check out Ghosts of Wales: Accounts from the Victorian Archives by Mark Rees.

Photos from Ghosts of Wales – Live! at National Waterfront Museum, Swansea

Author Mark Rees with the Ghosts of Wales - Live! gang at the Swansea Fringe Festival:
(l-r) Owen Thomas, Lotus Sisters, Mark Rees, Owen Staton, Cymru Paranormal

We came, we saw… we told some ghost stories and took some photos! 

The now-annual Ghosts of Wales – Live! event brought the spookiness to the Swansea Fringe Festival in October, and here are the photos to prove it!

This time out our venue was the fantastic National Waterfront Museum in Swansea, and with Halloween looming it was the perfect time for a paranormal party.

Author Mark Rees talks about Ghosts of Wales at the Swansea Fringe Festival. Photo by Cymru Paranormal.
Author Mark Rees talks about Ghosts of Wales at the Swansea Fringe Festival. Photo by Cymru Paranormal.

What happened at Ghosts of Wales – Live! this year?

Once again, it was a great chance for like-minded people to get together and enjoy an hour or so of eerie entertainments.

The key thing about these events is to have fun – despite the subject matter, we don’t anyone to leave terrified! – and that’s exactly what happened.

which included real-life tales from haunted Wales, creepy yards from the days of folklore, handy tips on how to ethically conduct a paranormal investigation, a sneak preview from a new theatrical spine-chiller, and of course – spooky belly dancing!

Who was there?

The line up included:

• The “ghost host” himself Mark Rees (of course!) with some spine-chilling accounts of real-life ghost stories from across Wales.

• Legendary storyteller Owen Staton, who recalled some magical tales from the time between times.

• The incredible Lotus Sisters, who wowed the crowd with some folkloric belly dancing (yes, folkloric belly dancing!).

•Welsh paranormal investigators Cymru Paranormal, who gave a quick talk on how to hunt ghosts responsibly.

•And making his Ghosts of Wales Live debut, Welsh playwright Owen Thomas, who gave an exclusive preview of his upcoming creepy new play The Night Porter.

When’s the next one?

Ghosts of Wales – Live! has now become an annual event, and will return each and every October for Halloween.

Keep an eye on the events page for future dates, as well as all other talks and appearances.

Until then, a HUGE thank you everyone who made a success of this year’s get-together.

It’s wonderful to see so many people returning time and time again, and it’s just as wonderful to see so many new new faces joining the Ghosts of Wales family for the first time.

And none of it would be possible without the performers, who all gave up their time to make this event a success.

See you all again at the next Ghosts of Wales – Live!

PS If anyone has any suggestions for future events, please get in touch

Photos from Ghosts of Wales – Live! at the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea

Author Mark Rees with the Ghosts of Wales - Live! gang at the Swansea Fringe Festival: (l-r) Owen Thomas, Lotus Sisters, Mark Rees, Owen Staton, Cymru Paranormal
Author Mark Rees with the Ghosts of Wales – Live! gang at the Swansea Fringe Festival: (l-r) Owen Thomas, Lotus Sisters, Mark Rees, Owen Staton, Cymru Paranormal
Owen Staton at Ghosts of Wales - Live!, part of the Swansea Fringe Festival. Photo by Cymru Paranormal.
Owen Staton at Ghosts of Wales – Live!, part of the Swansea Fringe Festival. Photo by Cymru Paranormal.
Lotus Sisters spooky belly dancers at Ghosts of Wales - Live!, part of the Swansea Fringe Festival. Photo by Cymru Paranormal.
Lotus Sisters spooky belly dancers at Ghosts of Wales – Live!, part of the Swansea Fringe Festival. Photo by Cymru Paranormal.
Sarah from Cymru Paranormal talks at Ghosts of Wales - Live!, part of the Swansea Fringe Festival. Photo by Cymru Paranormal.
Sarah from Cymru Paranormal talks at Ghosts of Wales – Live!, part of the Swansea Fringe Festival. Photo by Cymru Paranormal.
Playwright Owen Thomas talks at Ghosts of Wales - Live!, part of the Swansea Fringe Festival. Photo by Cymru Paranormal.
Playwright Owen Thomas talks at Ghosts of Wales – Live!, part of the Swansea Fringe Festival. Photo by Cymru Paranormal.

Folklore Thursday: Read about the two-headed phantom from Ghosts of Wales

Ghosts of Wales by Mark Rees: A Haunted House in Wales
Ghosts of Wales by Mark Rees: A Haunted House in Wales

Did I ever tell you about the two-headed ghost which terrorised a Welsh community? No? Well, now you can read all about it in my latest Folklore Thursday article!

What’s this Folklore Thursday article all about?

I stumbled across this strange case while researching Ghosts of Wales: Accounts from the Victorian Archives, and it quickly became one of my favourite spooky stories from the Victorian archives.

It involves a ghost with two heads – hence the name! – and was corroborated by multiple witnesses.

It’s always a good thing when there are plenty of witnesses, but especially in this case because the phantom was reported to be hunting in the vicinity of a drinking establishment – and booze can do strange things to the eyes late at night! 

But the real reason I love this story is the reason behind it having two heads.

Two headed ghosts really are rare, and this one really does have an inventive – and somewhat grisly – explanation for its second head.

Read all about the two-headed phantom on Folklore Thursday

Anyway, I won’t spoil the story here.

You can read all about the two-headed Welsh ghost on the Folklore Thursday website:

The Two-headed Phantom of Wales by Mark Rees from Ghosts of Wales

Also, be sure to check out my other Folklore Thursday articles here: Mark Rees on Folklore Thursday.

Listen to the tale of the two-headed phantom on the Ghosts & Folklore podcast

Update: This spine-chilling tale is now available to listen to on the Ghosts & Folklore podcast channel!

Just hit play on the player below, and for more spooky tales and to subscribe check out the Ghosts & Folklore podcast page.

Ghosts of Wales books, podcast and events

The tale of the two-headed phantom was originally published in my book Ghosts of Wales: Accounts from the Victorian Archives.

For LOTS more real-life 19th century ghost stories, it’s available from all good bookshops and online from the books page.