Seaman’s Chapel complete with its idyllic adjoining cottage and boatshed appeared, on paper, to be a property developer’s dream.
Sitting on the banks of what is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful waterside locations of the River Cleddau – Pill, in Milford Haven – the former manse and historic chapel retained enormous potential for property developer Peter Harrop who bought the property just over 12 months ago.
But since renovation work commenced at the property on Cellar Hill in the autumn of 2022, Peter has been made increasingly aware of unexplained presences that are attracting his attention in the most deliberate and direct ways.
“The first time I began to suspect that there was some kind of ghostly presence here was a few weeks after I started working on the property,” he said.
“I was standing outside the front door, looking towards the water, when I heard one of the ladders which I’d left propped up on a wall inside, being dragged across the floor. And as soon as I turned my head to see what was going on, it stopped.
“There’s absolutely no explanation for what happened that day as there was nothing at all inside the building that could have caused the ladder to move.”
Peter believes the Seaman’s Chapel dates back to the 17th century, when it was regularly used to store the bodies of sailors, fishermen and other seafarers found at sea. The adjoining cottage, believed to be the manse built around 1860, was once the home of a blacksmith who was accused of stealing money from the adjoining chapel. Unable to deal with the accusation, the blacksmith is believed to have hung himself inside the property.
Both buildings were gutted by their previous owner with the result that Peter, who lives in Barry, sleeps in a campervan inside the chapel whenever he carries out work on the property. With no electricity nor running water his living conditions, particularly in the depths of winter, are grim.
He regularly sees unexplained shadows flitting around the interior of the property and earlier this winter he was woken by the sound of someone knocking loudly on the side of his campervan.
“But it was impossible for anyone to do this, as the campervan is parked inside the chapel,” he explained. “Nobody can get in through its main door and neither could anyone get inside from the house, as the front door was locked. Yet the knock was loud and clear and seemed to be coming from here.”
Peter points to a spot around two-thirds from the base of the van, which equates to an average person’s shoulder height.
“All my life I’ve never paid the slightest interest to ghosts or anything spiritual as I’ve always considered it to be a load of nonsense. But this is making me wonder what’s going on.”
It also appears that the building is using up excess energy, which Peter is discovering in the most unexpected way.
“My vape tends to last me around 24 hours,” he said. “But as soon as I go into the house, it doesn’t last anywhere near as long. They say that spirits go to the energy source and I suppose this includes batteries.”
Given what he’s currently experiencing at the property, I ask Peter how he can continue sleeping there at night and spend so much time alone there throughout the day.
“It isn’t bothering me,” he says. “In fact it’s the living that I’m more concerned about, not the dead.
“Even though I can’t explain who’s here or what’s happening, I don’t think they’re particularly concerned that I’m restoring the property. I’d like to think that they’re pleased.”
To help Peter unravel the mysteries surrounding the Seaman’s chapel, he’s enlisted the help of local paranormal investigation group Haven Ghost Hunters, run by Philip Picton and Jemma Pillock.
Using a range of ghost hunting equipment including EVP voice recorders and SBox spirit scanners, they hope to discover key words and elements which will lead them to the root of the spirit’s awakenings.
“Every historic building has its own story, but our aim is to prove or disprove whether there may be ghostly activities happening here in Cellar Hill,” explained Phil.
“And hopefully the words that may appear to us in our investigations will help us identify the spirit.”
Meanwhile Peter is confident that the cottage will be ready for habitation later this year. He intends living there while the chapel and adjoining boathouse will subsequently be made available for Airbnb once their restoration is complete.