Our 13 week picnic marathon started on Friday 13 April, we’ll be visiting a haunted location every Friday until Friday 13 July 2018. Each week we set off armed with sound recording equipment, digital cameras and an original Polaroid camera – to take an unfakeable and unique Polaroid image at each location.
For our 11th week we decided to revisit Newtown in Powys where we had spent some time back in 2013 making work for the Be Our Guest exhibition at Oriel Davies. As well as making a piece for the exhibition called Who is this who is coming? we interviewed a number of people who had experienced uncanny and ghostly phenomena at the gallery as well as in Newtown at large.
We were delighted to make the acquaintance of Rory Evans at that time who very generously shared a great many ghost stories about the region with us. We spent the day visiting some of the locations Rory had spoken about hoping to get a glimpse of the many spectral residents of the town.
We started with gallery itself where lots of spooky occurrences have been reported from books flying off shelves to mysterious telephone calls. Rory thought the culprit may be Sarah Briscoe, a descendant of the Pryce family of Newtown who donated the clock tower (known as ‘Sarah’) to the town and died in 1901.
We then headed into town to have a look at the haunted pubs that Rory mentioned, The Sportsman, The Victoria Vaults, The Buck and The Black Boy.
Next we drove to The Vastre, a road heading out of town towards the village of Kerry. Rory had told us some particularly unsettling stories, firstly a woman dressed in Victorian attire has been seen, apparently extremely tall she seems actually to be hovering above the ground. Also the tale of a motorist who encountered a terrifying medusa like red-headed woman appearing in the back of his car after the temperature dropped to below freezing on a warm summer’s day.
We also visited the area of Bryn Bank hill fort where Rory had told us Charles I had been taken during his visit to the town during the civil war.
We’d hoped to drop in to see Maesmawr Hall, now a hotel in Caersws on the way home. We’d previous heard tales from both Rory and our friend Rhowan about ghostly goings-on at the location, but the hotel was bustling with a Prom event happening that day, so we decided to save our visit for another day.
We picnicked in the dappled shade of the trees on the bank of the river Severn near the Oriel Davies gallery. We had 13 smoky spiced mini bean burgers with 13 ingredients (Kidney Beans, Onion, Garlic, Carrot, Tomato puree, Chipotle smoked chili, Cumin, Oats, Soy Sauce, Pepper, Oil, Lime Juice, Salt); a 13 ingredient rice salad (Rice, Red Pepper, Green Pepper, Pickled Jalapeno; Garlic, Coriander; Sweetcorn, Cumin seed, Lime Juice; Tomatoes, Olive Oil, Salt, 13 slices of Avocado) a 13 ingredient sweet potato salad(Sweet Potato, Onion, Garlic, Tomatoes, Coriander, Chilli, Salt, Black Pepper, Spring Onion, Caraway Seeds, Black Onion Seeds, Mustard Seeds); 13 arancini with 13 ingredients (Eggs, Parmesan, Parsley, Black Pepper, Oregano, Salt, Sundried Tomatoes, Olives, Mozerella, Stock, Rice, Breadcrumbs)
Our desserts this week were a 13 ingredient apricot and raspberry tart (Flour, Butter, Eggs, Caster Sugar, Ground Almonds Almond Essence, Apricots, Raspberries, Apricot Jam, Salt, Water, Flaked Almonds, Icing Sugar) and 13 aztec chocolate mini cupcakes with 13 ingredients (SR Flour, Egg, Granulated Sugar, Butter, Cocoa powder, Chili powder, Milk, Kahlua, Icing Sugar, Cinnamon, Salt, Water, Vanilla Essence).