6. Jack the Dog and the Haunted Staircase to the 2nd Floor
There remains one original staircase which dates back to the Adelina Patti era, never removed in the century since she died in 1919, despite the Castle being gutted and remodelled as a TB Hospital for 40 years, and then a Hospice for another 20 years.
The old staircase gently ascends, with wide, shallow steps, from the first-floor landing to the second floor, abruptly finishing at a 1930’s Hospital era wall, behind which there is an old lift shaft.
Ghost Hunters have regularly found this staircase ‘highly active’, with many a shadowy image caught on camera, though others argue the images are just shadows.
Aware of this, during a Franchise conference for our then main business (a national cleaning agency), I took a few of the franchisees up to the derelict area for an impromptu look-see, one dark winter’s evening.
Unlike our ghost hunters, I personally was not anticipating anything paranormal. Purely for my own amusement, I warned the assembled franchisees how ‘active’ the staircase was. I advised ‘for health and safety reasons’ that if for any reason, the dog (Jack) stopped on said staircase, no one must panic or move. I impressed upon them how Jack the Dog was sensitive to spirit and to stay still.
This was I confess, untrue, I made it up - but my franchisees did not know this.
Impressed and sobered by my warnings, my franchisees followed me on a tour of the derelict upper levels. We made it all the way to State Room 2 (shown on this link much as it is now) without incident. But on the way down the long staircase from the top floor, Jack the dog stopped.
He stopped and did not move, rooted to the spot.
Jack had stopped half way down the staircase, by the window, the exact spot where an image, several orbs, and numerous indeterminate shadows have been duly caught on ghost hunters’ cameras.
Jack’s hackles were raised. This I have never seen before or since, for golden retrievers have thick fur, are good natured, and ‘raising hackles’ is not something they really do. Refusing to descend, Jack growled aggressively, then barked, all the while remaining half stood, half sat, stock-still on the staircase.
The franchisees, crowding behind me and in the middle of their descent, stopped dead in their tracks. The other-worldly tension and surprise which we all felt, myself included, made for an unforgettable moment.
After a long few seconds of this, I told Jack to ‘go on down’, and the moment passed.
What made Jack the dog stop dead on the ‘haunted staircase’? I have always wondered about this since. It has never happened before or since. So why did it happen after my mischievous attempt to worry the franchisees?
Jack is just a dog. He has no ability to understand what we humans were talking about in the bar. He cannot respond to ‘suggestion’. So, what had he responded to?
Had some other worldly presence listened to me tell my little story to the franchisees, and decided to give us all a surprise? Or had the story so impressed the franchisees, that the dog picked up on their concern going down that staircase?
Martin Gover / Craig y Nos Castle