Sker House

Posted: August 1, 2013 in Historic Buildings

SKER HOUSE PIC

Sker House situated near Porthcawl in South Wales, is a Grade I listed building which dates back to the 12th century.
The building was originally a monastic grange of Neath Abbey, where it provided accommodation for the brethren along with a chapel for daily monastic services.
The house was later acquired by the Roman Catholic Tuberville family after the dissolution of the monastery, where Jenkin Tuberville accommodated the house in 1561, residing there for over a decade.
During his time at Sker Jenkin Tuberville transformed the house by spending considerable amounts of money in extending and redecorating the former grange.
The original house began with just one storey, but was raised to provide two separate upper floors as well as a spacious attic area, and access to all floors could be reached from the east front of the building. Inside the house lies the Great Hall, the size of which is the whole width of the first floor of the property. There is a great stone fireplace in the centre of the west wall, with the room having three very large windows, two situated on the east wall with the third on the west side, which would provide the room with plenty of light. A doorway at the end of the south side provided access to a parlour, which is believed to have been the family’s private apartments. The ground floor of the house is thought to have been the service areas, with the living area occupying the north and south wings.
With Jenkin Tuberville succeeding his father at Penllyn, Sker House, with its isolated location became the perfect refuge for the priests.
Jenkin Turberville died in 1597, some say due to the vigorous questioning and torture after he had been discovered to harbour Jesuit priests, and promoted Catholicism within the district.
Christopher Tuberville then replaced Jenkin at Sker House and in 1598 a Jesuit priest, Father Phillip Evans, was arrested at Sker House where after a trial at Cardiff he was hung, drawn and quartered.
With increasing persecution for his beliefs, Christopher Tuberville sold the property, and travelled abroad in 1697.
Sker House then passed to tenanted farmers, where gentleman farmer, Issac Williams lived at Sker House with his two daughters, Mary and Elizabeth. The two sisters often went dancing in Kenfig’s Town Hall where there was a resident harpist named Thomas Evans. Thomas and Elizabeth fell in love. Elizabeth’s father was furious when he found out his daughter had been associating herself with Thomas. He felt Thomas was just a mere carpenter and was not good enough for his daughter. The couple secretly continued to meet and planned to elope. One night Thomas hired a coach and horses, yet on approaching the house, the barking of dogs made so much noise he turned round and left without his beloved. Issac Williams, angered by what Thomas had planned, locked Elizabeth in her room and she was unable to leave the house.
In 1701, although still in love with Thomas Evans, Elizabeth was forced to marry Mr. Thomas Kirkhouse, who was from Neath. The couple had four children, although it is believed the couple endured a loveless marriage due to Elizabeth having secret meetings with her true love, Thomas Evans, every time she heard of him playing in the district of where she lived, in Briton Ferry. It is said when her husband found out about the secret meetings he was infuriated.
In 1710, after nine years of marriage, Elizabeth died, rumoured to be from a broken heart, and lies buried at Llansamley Churchyard. Issac Williams is believed to have died in 1776.
Around 1772 Morgan Howells and his family were tenants of Sker House, where his daughter Martha went through a similar tale as that of Elizabeth Williams. Martha had fallen in love with William David, a local labourer. Despite having been pursued as far as Bristol by her father, Martha and William’s elopement was successful, and were married in Bath during 1793.
From around 1797 Sker House became neglected and abandoned where over the years it no longer resembled the historical building from the heyday of the Turberville’s, but was a ruinous shell and need of major repairs.
An historical trust purchased the house in order to conduct the renovations needed. One of the conditions from the trust was that it would be open to the public on certain days of the year. However, a private buyer bought the property after the renovations were completed and no public access is permitted.
Various unusual incidents are said to occur at Sker House, with numerous reports of the sighting of a monk, the clanking noise of chains, and the sound of a male struggling for breath, which is heard in a certain room of the house.
It was during 2002 when a BBC camera crew had to withdraw from filming, and rapidly vacated the building due to an unexplainable high pitched noise of which was emanating from the Great Hall.
The most common sighting reported is that of the ghostly figure of Elizabeth Williams, who having been locked away in a room by her own father to prevent her eloping with her true love, has been seen by many in the upstairs window of the room of which she was incarcerated
The captain of the Sampamta ship, which was wrecked on Sker Point on 23 April 1947, is also reported to haunt the area.

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