In 1835,Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot had married Lady Charlotte Butler, the daughter of the first Earl of Glengall, There were four children from his marriage – Theodore, Emily Charlotte, Bertha Isabella (who marries John Fletcher of Saltoun) and Olivia.
The History of Margam Castle
The house flourished, in its heyday it was visited by the gentry. The Prince and Princess of Wales, later to become Edward VII and Queen Alexandra came for lunch on 17th October 1881 and planted a tree in the gardens to commemorate their visit.
One frequent visitor to Margam Castle was Talbot`s cousin, Henry Fox Talbot of Lacock. A pioneer photographer, he succeeded in taking one of the earliest photographic views which clearly shows the corner of the southwest facade.
Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot died in 1890, his only son Theodore Mansel Talbot had died in 1876 and his daughter Miss Emily Charlotte Talbot inherited her father’s Margam and Penrice estates. She made various changed to the house, new bathrooms and plumbing was installed, the heating improved and in 1891 – electricity was installed. The billiard room was added, being built over the small inner courtyard. Jacobean in style it became the popular haunt of gentlemen guests invited to her large house parties in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A large skylight of plain coloured glass lit the room. The fireplace had an elaborately carved mantle bearing the date 1892 and the initials ECT, Emily Charlotte Talbot. Miss Talbot maintained a large retinue of servants in the house and on her estate including an army of gardeners.
Following the death of Miss Talbot in 1918, her nephew Captain Andrew Mansel Talbot Fletcher (1880-1951) inherited the Margam Estate. He and his family frequently stayed here during the summer holidays. He often opened the grounds to the public hosting fetes and celebrations.
He altered the castle little, although did convert the old stable block into a squash court and garage in 1930.
Following the outbreak of war in 1939 the Government requisitioned the Orangery and part of the Castle. The trustees of the Margam estate decided to sell the greater part of the property, and Captain Fletcher and his family returned to their Scottish estate at Saltoun.
The four-day auction organised by Christies of London took place between 27th and 30th October 1941.The sale was to attract dealers from all over the country as well as many local people anxious to have a last opportunity to view the treasures and maybe purchase an inexpensive memento. Monday was the sale of the 18th and 19th century collection of silver, Tuesday that of the many fine books which raised more than the silver.
Wednesday saw the highlight of the sale with the disposal of Talbot’s fine collection of paintings, sculpture and ancient marbles. They included work by Canaletto, the National Gallery represented by Sir Kenneth Clark secured the dell’Abbate of “The Story of Aristaeus”, Gentileschi’s “Repose on the Flight to Egypt” was sold to the Duke of Kent, and the Rembrant to a Dutch buyer whilst the National Museum of Wales acquired seven watercolours of Welsh scenes by Ibbetson.
Of the sculpture and marbles, some were acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Swedish National Museum in Stockholm and Lord Trent. One item was left unsold, a life-size statue of an obscure Roman Emoporer called Lucius Verus, this is now housed in the Orangery where it can be seen today. The final day saw the sale of the furniture, tapestries and household effects.
The contents of the Castle were soon dispersed leaving an empty and forlorn mansion.
During the war years both British and American troops were housed at Margam Castle. In 1942 the estate was sold to Sir David Evans-Bevan, the proprietor of the Vale of Neath Brewery. He never actually lived in the building and it gradually fell prey to vandals and thieves, and into decline becoming an empty shell.
The Ghosts of Margam Castle
One frequently encountered spirit is thought the be Robert Scott a gamekeeper at the house for many years. It is thought that Scott was murdered by a poacher and his spirit still rages around the grounds today. Robert Scott has often been seen purposefully ascending the Gothic staircase leading the Castle. His presence has come forward regularly with psychic investigators, all of whom have insisted his spirit is consumed with rage over his unjust killing.
The sound of giggling children is heard frequently through the long corridors and dramatic rooms of the family areas. There have been reports of children in Victorian dress seen drifting in and out of doorways and mischievously moving objects.
The large figure of the blacksmith is a familiar vision to many of the gamekeepers and gardening staff who maintain the vast castle grounds. At night security guards have reported running footsteps and chattering voices with no sign of any living intruder.
In recent years the high reports of paranormal activity have brought psychic investigations to the property. Reports of cold spots and orbs in the Castle were frighteningly abundant, it seems the the Castle is flushed with psychic energy.
Rocks have been thrown at those who hold seances and endeavour to speak with the spirits. The most violent and angry spirit is certainly Robert Scott who is said to have slammed doors and hurled projectiles, and emit a foreboding presence.
Margam Castle is an impressive and dramatic site and was only recently been reoccupied after many years of disrepair. The number of paranormal stories coming from the site on a regular basis could make this property a contender for most haunted house in Britain.