Monday, 4 July 2016

Unusual Experience at Margam Abbey

The experience we are about to relate happened to Jonathan in person a number of years ago during 2008. The time of year was February and this experience happened on a very cold but sunny afternoon; In fact the sky was clear and bright. The location of this particular experience was in the grounds of the medieval abbey at Margam Park, South Wales. Like the majority of medieval ecclesiastical sites in both Wales and Britain, the structure is ruinous.  

We have read many stories of everyday people hearing and seeing things when they do not expect to, but we never thought that one of us would be fortunate enough to experience what might have been referred to in the early days of the Society for Psychical Research as an ‘auditory hallucination’.  Except this was no hallucination: the experience was objective. This is further confirmed as another witness was present who also heard the sounds.

 (Early Eighteenth Century view of the former Tudor/Jacobean mansion at Margam, near)

This experience is best described in Jonathan's own words.....

'The experience was ephemeral, lasting for no longer than ten seconds. The actual ‘substance’ of my auditory experience was the chanting of what I presume to be monks.  It started off faint and very quickly came on stronger and seemed to increase in volume and enveloped me briefly. When I really understood what was happening the chanting faded and gradually stopped. The sequence was a chant which quickly increased in volume then gradually ceased, all within a very short space of time. The best way I can describe it is that it was a plaintive sound. There was no mistaking it for something other than what it sounded like; a full body of medieval monks singing Gregorian style chant. During the whole experience the chanting was never particularly loud and could accurately be described as 'being in the background.' 

'Of course every exertion possible was made to find a grounded and earthly explanation, but there was no obvious source for it. In fact, other than myself and my partner there was perhaps one or two other persons in the whole area. I have no doubt that what I experienced was a form of recording and not something which had a conscience or awareness, perhaps conforming to the Stone Tape Theory that somehow, due to natural electronic or magnetic earth forces, certain experiences or events become imprinted on the environment around the immediate area concerned and, under certain conditions are somehow occasionally played back. Despite my best endeavours in returning numerous times hoping for some repetition of this experience, my return visits were in all instances met with failure.'

(Antiquarian print of the ruined chapter house at Margam)

'My state of mind is worth some consideration though as this is something that might perhaps be a factor. It can best be described as absorbed. I was at the time in the middle of studying for my archaeology degree and, as most students will confirm, I was feeling the burden of a heavy work load of essays to research and write and presentations to prepare for, this was weighing on my mind at the time.'  

'This experience was not a part of any organised investigation and I was simply out for the day with my partner.' 

It is interesting that during all of our deliberate investigations into the paranormal over the years, we have never heard anything (discounting some of the excellent EVPs we have captured) like this, and to hear this when not expecting to seems typical of the elusive and spontaneous nature of the paranormal. This seems to be common with most people’s experiences both audio and visual, they tend to happen when not expected; perhaps this is a part of the trigger mechanism?

We also be interested to hear from other people who have had similar experiences in Glamorgan or beyond. 

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