Thursday, 2 May 2019

Lore - Rope & Railing . . .

I've recently started listening to a podcast called 'Lore'. It's a series that covers folklore around the world and unexplainable history. Each episode provides a scary story that shows, as they say, the 'dark side of human nature'. Me being me, I quickly become addicted to listening to it and am slowly working my way through past episodes of the entire podcast.

One episode in particular struck me, episode 23 - Rope and Railing. It's one of those tales that doesn't really show the dark side of human nature as much as it does sheer bad luck. It takes place around Smalls Lighthouse on a rocky island off the shores of Prembrokeshire, Wales, UK. The original lighthouse was built between 1775 - 1776, but one grisly episode in 1801 brought about a revision in the whole lighthouse policy.

Thomas Howell and Thomas Griffth made a two-man team who run the lighthouse, ensuring it was lit every night for months at a time. The pair never really got along, and were often seen arguing when they come home to the mainland. The state of their relationship was common knowledge, so it was understandable that when Griffth died in a tragic accident on the island, Howell was concerned it might look like murder. He considered throwing the body in the sea but knew this wouldn't bode well for him, so kept Griffth in their room until the smell of his decompostion got too much. Howell then went about gathering what wood he could, from floorboards to pieces of furniture, and made his colleague a makeshift coffin. He then placed this outside and strung it up to the railing with rope.

He didn't foresee the storm that hit soon after. The waves battered the island, smashing the coffin to pieces, but the body become entangled in the ropes that was supposed to hold it secure, and as the storm abated, Griffth remained hanging from the railings right outside the window. Howell, unable to retrieve the body, had no choice but to spend the next four months alone on the island, watching his colleague decompose outside. When he was finally retrieved from the island, he was a shadow of his former self. He said the way Griffth was hanging from the railing made it look like he was continuously beckoning to him, with his arm swinging in the wind, driving him crazy.

The coastguard said that numerous times within the span of those four months, they rowed out to the island to check the pair were ok, and always saw the figure of one of them standing against the railing, waving to them to let them know all was good, so, satisfied, they turned around and rowed back home. Poor Howell. Talk about bad luck.

After this, the lighthouse policy was changed so that no fewer than three men should be present at all times.

I'm eagerly listening for more interesting tales to come...


  1. Fabulous story! What happened to Thomas Howell? Did he escape the murder charge? Did they buy his story?

    1. Isn't it? I defnitely thought it worthy of a share. I actually don't think Howell was convicted of murder but I get the impression he wasn't right mentally afterwards.

  2. There always seems to be some horror around lighthouses... even when Gerard Butler is the lighthouse keeper.... Or my dear David Oakes in Cold Skin recently....