‘Johnny’: The Ghost of Gladstone Villa
Written by wolverat on January 13, 2020
The following is a creepy account that has made the rounds, in various forms, over the years. The author’s name is Andrew Dexter and it was forwarded to me by a colleague in Canada. I’ve been involved with a fair number of haunting investigation/ remote viewings throughout south Wales, so this particular location and activity is familiar:
“What you are about to read is a true story, this is a genuine case that took place many years ago, it really did happen to me and my family and I would like to share it with you as my story needs to be told!
My family and I lived at a large property called Gladstone Villa in the former mining town of Bargoed in the Caerphilly county borough of the South Wales throughout the 1970’s.
We experienced many unusual phenomena that simply defied any rational explanation like footsteps in the main bedroom that would be heard on a regular bases, mainly in the evening but sometimes during the day when we would all be sat down stairs watching television, one of us would turn the volume down to hear the footsteps more clearly.
We also had some minor poltergeist activity, I witnessed electrical cables being pulled by unseen forces from upstairs and my grandfather said he had a glass bottle thrown towards him as he entered the main bedroom, just missing him, I saw him with the broken glass in his hand as he told us.
There was also the occasional sighting, so rare in fact that in all the years I was living at Gladstone Villa I didn’t see any manifestations or apparitions but my mother saw it on at least three occasions as well as my grandfather.
There were four family members that lived at Gladstone Villa, my maternal grandparents William and Rita Higgs, William, who preferred to be known as Bill to his family and friends was a former miner who worked at Bargoed colliery in the 1950’s.
Then there were my parents, Douglas and Caroline Dexter, they met at the bake house in Baldwin street in Bargoed, they dated for three years before they married on April 1st 1968 at 2 pm, so it wasn’t such a foolish thing to do after all, but the Beatles were number one in the charts with “Lady Madonna.” Very apt!
They didn’t get a place of their own, they stayed at Gladstone Villa with my grandparents Bill and Rita, and I was born in the August of 1969 and it was soon after that my mother told me that the strange activity began.
My mother said it all started off rather quietly, with little taps here and there, but hardly noticeable, nothing to be too concerned about, it didn’t take long for the activity to increase.
I was still a baby at the time it all started in the Summer of 1969 so my mother told me about how it got worse, she said the family heard what sounded like somebody jumping down from the attic and on to the landing floor!
Naturally thinking this was somebody trying to break in they went to see what was going on, when they got upstairs they found nothing, nobody was to be seen, but the found the hatch to the attic was open, very curious indeed.
Whatever it was eventually occupied itself in the main bedroom, which incidentally belonged to my grandparents Bill and Rita and it didn’t take long for the spirit to make its presence felt, may an evening footsteps could be heard walking around the room!
There were typical signs of poltergeist activity, when I was still a baby my mother said she checked my cot and she saw that the pillow was torn right in half, I don’t think I was in it at the time.
Another occasion, the family went out for the day, when they got back they found that the furniture in the living room had been turned upside down, there was no signs of a break in and nothing was missing, no forced entries.
One evening, my mother went into the main bedroom to get my father up for the night shift at the bake house, she saw that his slipper were thrown out on to the landing, but more was to come, when she went inside she saw that the ironing board was carefully placed on my father’s torso as he slept, when she managed to wake him and he came to, he was astonished to see the situation he was in.
My father Douglas was quite suspicious of my grandfather Bill, thinking that it was my grandfather doing it, but as time passed he realized it wasn’t him doing it at all and he became convinced this was a genuine haunting.
At some point Bargoed police were involved for some reason, they checked the attic but found nothing but they suspected that it was my father Douglas playing pranks on the family from the bake house.
My parents separated and my father left Gladstone villa sometime in 1972, but it wasn’t because of what was going on at the property, it was just a break down of the marriage.
I have no memory of my dad living at Gladstone villa at all, but he would come to see me every Saturday to take me to places, I enjoyed going to the Cameo cinema in Bargoed with him.
They finally divorced on the 25th of April 1975, the famous Scottish group at the time were ‘The Bay City Rollers’ and they were number one on the British charts with “Bye Bye Baby,” again, very apt, and almost amusing in this sad situation.
As I got older, I experienced the phenomena for myself, I too heard all the footsteps in the main bedroom, I remember my grandfather Bill looking up to the ceiling and pointing up trying to point out just exactly where the footsteps were coming from, he would say, “He’s by there” and “He’s by here now.”
I also witnessed the electrical cables being pulled from the television and my grandfather Bill would be angry just in case it caused any serious damage.
The activity got so bad that we slept downstairs with the lights on all night as we were too scared to sleep upstairs, only my grandfather Bill slept in that room, he was the only one who was supposedly brave enough, but my grandmother Rita knew that he was just as scared because every time he would go upstairs he would whistle a tune.
My grandfather Bill claimed to have had an unpleasant experience in that room.
One night he was alone there, when all of a sudden he said he felt a presence there, heard what sounded like floorboards creaking by the door, then he was paralyzed on the bed, he just couldn’t move, not even shout out to call us to help him!
I too also had an unpleasant experienced while alone in that room.
I still remember it well, the bedroom light was on as I was scared of the dark, it was very quiet, I was lying on my left hand side face the window that overlooked the street we lived in, Cardiff road when all of a sudden I felt something pounce on the bed! I heard the bed springs going just the once.
I was naturally too scared to look straight away, being a child at the time, but when I did eventually look there was nothing there at all, I went downstairs to tell my mother and my grandparents and they came up to see what was going on. When we got there we saw three distinctive paw marks, that that of an animal. It never happened again.
Mrs Ivy France was a family friend, more of a friend to my grandmother Rita, she was well in her 50’s by the 1970’s and she enjoyed a game of bingo at the old people hall next to Gladstone Villa, she used to read the tea leaves from the cup but was rather skeptical when my grandmother told her Gladstone villa was haunted.
I still remember Ivy now going up into the main bedroom, looking around, and saying it was the vibration from the traffic outside on the main road causing it, but her opinion was soon to change when she experienced it for herself when she visited one evening.
It was then the local press was suggested but my grandmother Rita quickly declined for fear of ridicule but then a local medium was suggested, one that Ivy France knew of, his name was John Matthews.
When John Matthews arrived he started by asking the family questions then he began by challenging the spirit to perform by knocking on the ceiling and the entity immediately knocked back at him.
At some point the medium John went into a trance to try and make contact with it, he failed to get a name but he later confirmed the obvious, that there was indeed a presence there and it was an earthbound spirit.
A priest by the name of Graham Jones was also called to Gladstone Villa, he blessed the property and after a few prayers he duly left and it was quiet for a few short months after that, but the activity returned , the footsteps continued as well that the noises and bangs and sounds of dragging, only this time it started to show itself.
One night we were watching television when my mother Caroline just so happened to look to her left to where my grandmother was reading a book when she saw the full solid figure of a monk standing behind the sofa that my grandmother was on, near the doorway.
My grandfather and I didn’t see it as we were watching television butt she later described what she saw in detail, which was a monk, with typical brown habit, complete with hood over the head so she didn’t see his face, she said it was there for a few moments and it was gone.
There was another sighting but this took place in the day time!
My mother and I were in the front room, when my mother went over to the sofa to get something, she looked to her left and I saw the confused expression on her face.
I didn’t see this as I was behind the door that was wide open, obscuring the hallway but she later told me that she saw the face of an elderly man with a shock of white wavy hair looking into the room from the hallway that lead up to the bedroom.
Fred Davies was another family friend, he was my grandfather Bills work mate from Bargoed Colliery.
Fred was a tall slim man who would always wear a flat cap and glasses and smoked homemade cigarettes which he kept in his mouth as he spoke to us, every time he would visit he would sit in his favourite chair by the open fire.
One day he came up, it was quiet, I was playing by the side board quite happily when all of a sudden there was a very loud bang, just once, it was so loud that it made Fred duck his head and I ran to my mother Caroline for safety.
When it was all quiet again we all went up stairs to see what had happened, my grandfather Bill would be the first to go and I would be last.
When we got there we could not find anything that could account for that one loud bang, Fred later told us that he ducked his head because he thought it was going to come through the ceiling, it was like someone had dropped a large heavy trunk.
My grandfather Bill always liked to look out the landing window over the the street of Cardiff road, facing Bargoed town centre, on this occasion Fred Davies joined him, he said he felt some brush pass him, when he looked there was nothing there!
We had the ghost for so long that my grandmother Rita gave it a nickname, she called it ‘Johnny,’ my grandfather Bill would mock it by shouting out that name to get a reaction, but nothing would happen.
Every time my grandmother would watch the TV show “Songs of praise” on the Sunday, Johnny would start, as if he would take any exception to religious music being played, the same thing would happen when my grandfather Bill would play his records and LP’s, particularly the 70’s band ‘Slade’. One occasion, my granddad Bill played their album “Old new borrowed and blue” from 1974 in the bedroom, Johnny would turn the electric off. This would annoy my granddad Bill.
Yet another family friend, Derek, he would also come to experience the phenomena.
One night Derek came up to paint the living room door green for us, my mother was cooking sausages in the kitchen when the noises would start, this would quite naturally frighten Derek into stopping for a while until the noises stopped, but Derek was determined to finish the job he had started and he did so.
Both my mother and grandfather once claimed to have heard a baby crying there in the main bedroom, but as I didn’t hear this at the time I took very little notice of this.
We left Gladstone Villa in the summer of 1978 when two local business by the name of John and Aldo Ricci bought the property and the name was changed to ‘Parc villa’s’ when John’s son moved in, but he made no claims that the property was haunted, curious!
It was eventually converted into a hotel and the name was changed again to ‘The Parc hotel’ The then proprietor was a Londoner by the name of Roland Butler, but he also made no claim that the place was haunted.
It wasn’t until new management took over that rumours surfaced that it was actually haunted, the name was changed again to ‘Redz’ When the McBurney family took over.
On our last night at Gladstone Villa, we still experienced things.
Our belongings were packed in black plastic bin bags in the hallway, we were getting ready to settle down for the night ready for the big move the next day.
The lights we on, my granddad Bill was upstairs when it all started up again.
We heard the bags in the hallway being thrown around, then the old fashioned rounded door knob was being turned, as if someone was trying to get in, but it didn’t, this frightened my mother so that she called out to my grandmother Rita in panic!
I had my 40th birthday in the August of 2009 at Redz parc hotel for old time sake, and it was the staff who told me of their own personal experiences, particularly the barmaid Debbie.
They said there were sightings in the bar and in room five, footsteps and and eerie feeling and they didn’t like going down to the cellar as they heard noises down there, especially Debbie’s husband Neil who thought someone was trying to break in.
I did some research in into the history of the property and the whole of the Cardiff road area and I found out some very interesting things indeed.
I discovered from local newspaper archives and Bargoed library that Gladstone Villa dates back to the 1900’s.
I found out that a family lived there in 1924, the Kimmett family, their baby son Elvin Rowlands Kimmiet died at Gladstone villa in 1924, he was just four months old, according the the family notices of the South Wales echo of that year, this explains the baby my mother and my grandfather heard, makes sense now.
The Jones family lived there during the second world war, I discovered a letter written by Henry Jones from Gladstone Villa, his son was taken prisoner.
The Mills family were also there at some point and Edgar Mills also claimed that Gladstone Villa was haunted, maybe this was the old man my mother saw.
I also discovered that there was also a monastery in Baldwin street, where my parents worked! this explains the monk my mother saw, and a priest hide is said to be in an old listed building that dates back the the 17th century that has tunnels leading up to the local villages of Gelligear where there is a church called ‘St Catwgs’ and Nelson where there is an old manor house called Llancaich Fawr manor, which is well known to be haunted and was featured in “Most Haunted” It was once owned by the Pritchard family.
What I have said here is the truth and I wouldn’t share this if I couldn’t possibly back this up and I challenge any hardened skeptic to stay there, I can assure them that they will most certainly indeed question their own belief system, of that I have no absolute doubt at all whatsoever, I am deadly serious about that and and I’m quite sincere, I wouldn’t risk losing my credibility.
Check it out, the property is still there in Cardiff road in Bargoed, google it. I have used real names as I have nothing to hide, and every detail I shared can be verified.
Most of the people I mentioned above have now died but those who are still with us still remember it and still talk of it. My mother and I wouldn’t want to go through that again. Dex1969
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