There are thought to be several ghosts haunting Carew; a Celtic warrior is said to haunt the battlements and the ghost of a kitchen boy may be responsible for the clanking sounds of pots and pans heard coming from the kitchen.
However, the most intriguing and traceable ghosts are that of a ‘white lady’
who has been witnessed drifting from room to room and that of a Barbary ape..
Many people from Carew village will tell you of their encounters with a white lady; a kindly spirit who walks the ruins in daylight or in the flood of the full moon. This is the ghost of Princess Nest, the most beautiful woman in Wales, who still welcomes visitors to her castle just as she would have done 900 years ago.
Nest was the daughter of Rhys ap Tewder, the king of Deheubarth, and spent some time in the court of Henry I in London around the end of the 11th century. Henry fell in love with her and very soon she gave birth to his son.
Nest's ghost is said to haunt the Castle at night.
It is said that to avoid embarrassment within his court, Henry arranged that Nest would marry a Norman knight, Gerald de Windsor, Constable of Pembroke Castle. This did not please Nest as she had never met Gerald. However, to pacify her, Henry allowed her to take with her to Pembroke her servant and great friend Branwen who spoke the Welsh language and had been with Nest since her birth.
Gerald was a bold, handsome knight who was well respected by all who knew him. He had never met Nest but he had heard of her beauty. When he was ordered to marry her it is said he was very upset as he was mourning the death of his mistress. However, the marriage did take place and as the years went by they both grew to love each other dearly. As part of her marriage dowry, Nest had some land at Carew and here they built a castle of earth and wooden stakes in which to bring up their family of at least five children.
Nest had many admirers including her cousin Owain who met her at a banquet. He was so overcome by her beauty that he laid siege to the castle in order to capture her. Gerald escaped through the sewers with the children but Nest was taken hostage. Some say she went willingly!
She was held ‘prisoner’ at Cilgerran Castle for six years and during that time she bore Owain at least two children. Eventually Gerald rescued Nest and killed Owain in battle, but sadly, Gerald died a year later.
Princess Nest then married Stephen, castellan of Cardigan Castle and she bore Stephen a son just a year after Gerald had died.
Nest died soon afterwards but it is at Carew, her true home, that her spirit
can be seen walking the grounds of the castle on a still night.
The Barbary Ape
Sir Rowland Rees, believed to be a tenant of the castle in the 18th century, was a well travelled man who had visited the Barbary Coast and brought back with him an injured ape he had rescued from a wrecked Spanish galleon. It is said he was able to train his devoted pet to respond to his every wish with a series of whistles.
The story goes that Sir Rowland had one son who ran off with the daughter of a local merchant, not a union that Sir Rowland approved of.
On the fateful night there was a storm brewing. The wind screamed around the castle and the rain lashed at the windows. The ape was restless, sensing Sir Rowland's evil mood. There was a knock at the door and the girl's father, a merchant by the name of Horowitz, demanded admittance, distressed and upset that his daughter had run away with Sir Rowland's son. Sir Rowland did not believe his story and after a fierce argument he released the ape from its chains and ordered it to kill Horowitz.
The merchant fought off the ape and, although badly injured, managed to drag himself from the room. He shouted for help from the servants who tended him for the night. Horowitz cursed Sir Rowland with an evil fate and, as he cursed, great piercing screams were heard from the tower room. The servants, who were terrified of their master, were unwilling to venture into the tower room to find out what had happened.
At first light the following morning they summoned up the courage to enter the silent room. There, lying in a pool of blood was the body of Sir Rowland, but of the ape there was no sign.
Legend has it that the ghost of the ape returns to the castle on dark, stormy nights where he has been seen and heard by passers-by. Why does the ape return? Nobody knows...