I loved visiting Carew Castle, near Tenby in West Wales, (I like visiting any castle, to be honest – and Wales has hundreds of them) so I took the opportunity to use it as a location in The Colour of Death. Not only was it the perfect atmospheric place to have in a story about vampires, but it had its own spooky history.
The castle was built by Gerald de Windsor around the year 1100. He married Nest, princess of Deheubarth, who was rather on the flighty side. When she caught the eye of another man, she persuaded her husband to escape using the privy (old word for toilet) shaft while she allowed herself to be abducted. Apparently, she had a couple of children by her abductor, before she was returned to her husband. It is said her white ghostly form haunts the castle to this day.
Carew is also rumoured to be haunted by the ghost of a Barbary ape. In the eighteenth century, the castle’s owner, Sir Roland, rescued an ape from a Spanish galleon. When Roland’s son eloped with the daughter of a merchant (Roland wasn’t too pleased with this news), he rowed with the merchant and Roland set the ape on the man, mauling him badly. The merchant cursed Roland, and later that night the ape turned on its master and ripped Sir Roland’s throat out. Stories vary as to whether the ape also died or whether it disappeared, but whatever happened to it, it is said that the animal’s ghost haunts the battlements.
Add an atmospheric water mill and a misty lake to the castle’s location, and you have a fantastically atmospheric backdrop to a scene in The Colour of Death.
Psst, don’t tell anyone, but I have at least one more gothic ruin up my sleeve when it comes to settings for The Colours series – but more on that at another time.