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The legend of Silver-John, whose body is said to haunt Llyn Hilyn

Wales does legends rather well. You could say that we are steeped in them, from Merlin, the Greatest of Welsh Wizards to tales of the Mabinogian, possibly the earliest prose stories of Britain. The mountains echo to the sounds of roaring dragons, beautiful girls rise from lakes, falling in love tragically, King Uthr Pendragon gave his son into the care of Merlin and the legend of King Arthur was born. It is true that every sleepy valley in Wales seems to hold some secret.

One of our local legends is about Silver John, possibly a John Jones, living in the Harley Valley between Fforest Inn and New Radnor, in the late eighteenth century. He was a local sheep farmer, famed for his kindness and his ability at setting bones. His coat is said to have ‘twinkled’ with silver buttons given to him by grateful patients. Not only silver buttons but Sir William de Broase a descendant of the de Broase who came over with William the Conqueror is said to have paid him with silver buckles for mending a broken ankle and probably his most famous payment in kind was a beautiful silver-topped walking stick, which became his trade mark. All these were missing when his body was eventually found.

Travelling home from a Michaelmas fair in Builth Wells he stopped at the Fforest Inn and there is said to have got in to an argument with some men. He left but was followed, his horse and cart arrived home empty but no body was found.

Llyn Hilyn.jpg

Llyn Hilyn Ice

Some months later, at the Radnor Candlemas Fair held in April, behind the Fforest Inn at Llyn Hilyn, Mary, the landlord’s daughter was skating on the frozen lake when she spotted a body beneath the ice, staring up at her, it was Silver John! A short verse that has been handed down through the years seems to confirm that he was murdered and the body, when found, is reputed to have had no eyes, grim!

‘Silver John’ is dead and gone
So they cam home a-singing
The Radnor boys
Pulled out his eyes
And set the bells a-ringing!

The story re-occurs with various different names given for Silver John, could he have been John Lloyd, or John Jones but there is a report from the Court of Great Sessions on the 12th of December 1773 which heard the a case of the murderers of one John Jones of Llanfihangel Rhydithon, after a drunken fight. More than once John Jones is referred to as Silver John.

Silver John is said to haunt the lake at Llyn Hilyn and on moonlit nights when the lake is frozen you can still see his eye-less body staring up at you!

There are some wonderful walks from the lake, up to the hills and it is a bird spotting hot-spot.

Next time I shall tell you about the sleeping dragon on Radnor Forest and the five churches, dedicated to St. Michael, the slayer of dragons, built to keep us safe in case he wakes!

We hope that you can come to Fforest Fields and start your own legends this summer, we are here to help with . Please take a look at all the different ways you can stay with us.

Or call us on 01982 570406 and speak to Katie or Jessie (sometimes even George!)

Today the Fforest Inn is a very welcoming hostelry with delicious home cooked food and a really excellent carvery on a Sunday. It is a firm favourite of visitors to Fforest Fields. Call Colin or Nicky on 01544 350526 or visit thefforest.co.uk

The Fforest Inn

The Fforest Inn

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  • Bill

    A great story and one I can relate to every time I pass that lake. Funny some one emailed me a few years ago asking about a giants grave up on the hill behind the lake.

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