The Egryn Lights, or the Harlech Lights Flap, was a wave of unexplained light phenomena that occured in Gwynedd, North Wales, in around 1905. One day a huge arc, like a kind of aurora, was seen spanning from the mountains into the sea. After that, the lights came. At the time there was a religious revivial which had been started by a Mary Jones, who preached at a small chapel in Egryn between Barmouth and Harlech. The lights soon came to be associated with the revival.
Journalists from London and other cities flocked skeptically to the area, but were soon shocked by the lights and wrote back a series of very intriguing articles. Kevin McClure summarised these events in a well known book of the 1980s called Stars and Rumours of Stars.
The area has a history of strange lights. As Fiery Exhalations in Wales notes, the 1905 flap wasn't the only one in the area: there was another in 1693 and 1694. At this time it was called the Harlech Meteor, meteor being the general name for any unexplained light, which at the time included what we now call meteors. Pennant's Tour in Wales, Vol. II., p. 372, ed. 1810, describes the phenomenon as follows:
“Winter of 1694. — A pestilential vapour resembling a weak blue flame arose during a fortnight or three weeks out of a sandy, marshy tract called Morfa Byden, and crossed over a channel of 8 miles to Harlech. It set fire on that side to 16 ricks of hay and 2 barns, one filled with hay, the other with corn. It infected the grass in such a manner that cattle, etc., died, yet men eat of it with impunity. It was easily dispelled: any great noise, sounding of horns, discharging of guns, at once repelled it. Moved only by night, and appeared at times, but less frequently; after this it disappeared.”
A few decades later, John Mason Neale, in The Unseen World (1847), describes the same incident after recounting his own experience with a Will-o'-the-wisp:
“Of a less innocent kind was the celebrated Harlech meteor of 1694. Between Harlech and the Caernarvonshire side of the Traeth Bychan intervenes a low range of marsh land, running up some way into the country. Just before Christmas, 1693, a pale blue light was observed to come across the sea, apparently from the Caernarvonshire coast, and moving slowly from one part of the neighbouring country to another, to fire all the hay-ricks and some of the barns which it approached. It never appeared but at night. At first the country people were terrified at it; at length, taking courage, they ventured boldly close to it, and sometimes into it, to save, if it might be, their hay. As summer came on, instead of appearing almost every night, its visits were confined to once or twice a week, and almost always on Saturday or Sunday. It now began to cease from firing ricks, but was hurtful in another manner; for it poisoned all the grass on which it rested, and a great mortality of cattle and sheep ensued. At length it was traced to a place called Morvabychan, in Caernarvonshire, a sandy and marshy bay, about nine miles distant from Harlech. Storm or fine weather seemed to make no difference to this meteor; but any loud noise, as shouting, firing guns, blowing horns, appeared to prevent its doing mischief. It was seen for the last time in the August of 1694.”
5th — Mary Jones starts her revival work at Egryn Chapel. She sees a large auroral arc, stretching from the mountains into the sea, and what she calls a star. The meeting at Egryn Chapel was not well attended.
8th — Mary Jones holds a second revival meeting at Egryn Chapel, this one much better attended.
15th — The Barmouth Advertiser gives the first media report of Mary Jones, but not the lights. In the week that followed, the same paper reported “close upon 40 converts” being enrolled.
22nd — Three people see a large light to the south of Egryn Chapel, with a “bottle or black person” in the middle and “some little lights scattering around the large light in many colors.”
2nd — A man sees three lights in formation like a Prince of Wales feathers over a farmhouse. In what is described as probably the same sighting, a woman saw lights between Dyffryn and Llanbedr in early January too.
5th — Mary Jones attends a meeting at Pensarn. A Machynlleth train driver reports seeing a strange light “shooting out of ten different directions, and then coming together with a loud clap”. A strange light was also reported near Towyn.
13th — The Cambrian News publishes the first mention of the lights in the press.
16th — Mary Jones writes to the SPR saying that she had seen the lights several times, and that they started about six weeks ago.
31st — Beriah Evans sees five separate lights with Mary Evans around Islawrffordd and Egryn Chapel. He went on to write a famous article about these events which was published on 9th February. The Times claimed that the revival in South Wales was at somewhat of a peak.
9th — (Thursday) An article by Beriah Evans is published in the Daily News and the Guardian, giving his account of the lights of 31st January. This article prompts the Daily Mail and the Mirror to send journalists to investigate, and the media frenzy last for about a week.
10th — (Friday) Mary Jones gives a service at Bryncrug, and according to Beriah Evans, lights are seen not just as the meeting but also by various people as they walk home.
11th — (Saturday) Mary Jones is at Bontddu and lights reportedly pale the lights of her room. She gives a service in the evening. The Daily Mail reporter sees several lights around Egryn Chapel. The Daily Mirror reporter rides back with Mary Evans in the dark, and as they enter Barmouth they see a strange kernel of light above their carriages.
12th — (Sunday) Possibly on this day a clergyman with Mary Jones sees a light travel from Islawrffordd and alight on the roof of Egryn Chapel.
13th — (Monday) Stationmaster R. Bowen at Towyn sees the light through a telescope, heading towards Harlech. He had also been observing the lights in January. The Daily Mail correspondent, Bernard Redwood, and two others, also attempt to conduct a scientific investigation of the lights by Egryn Chapel. They only see a distant flash to the north. Mary Jones was in a village fifteen miles away.
14th — (Tuesday) The Daily Mirror journalist sees a bar of light by Egryn Chapel, and though some standing by him see it, others just a little further off hadn't observed it.
20th — The Times reports that the revival in South Wales is starting to lose its power due to its main proponent, Evan Roberts, suffering a nervous breakdown.
24th — The Cambrian News start to take a peculiarly harsh line towards Mary Jones and the light sightings.
4th — According to the Atlanta Constitution, a light follows Mary Jones's carriage back from a meeting at a place whose name is sadly not legible in the record.
5th — According again to the Atlanta Constitution, a reporter from the Express saw lights from a summit of the road apparently north from Egryn Chapel and before Islawrffordd. The lights were visible in the hills behind Egryn Chapel.
10th — Mary Jones holds a revival meeting at Arthog, but no lights are seen there.
13th — The Rev. H. D. Jones sees a strange light accompany them and Mary Jones from Ty'n-y-Drain near Llanbedr a mile of the way to Egryn. The light turned sharp left to follow them at a junction rather than going straight on.
15th — Lights are seen by a lady at West End in Pwllheli, where Mary Jones is holding a meeting.
25th — Mr. L.M. and others see a variety of lights at Capel Bethel in Llanfair, where Mary Jones was holding a meeting. Some of the lights sprang from a field adjacent to the chapel.
13th — Strange noises are heard by Miss Jane Jeffreys, with whom Mary Evans is residing.
19th — A party sees lights at Froncysyllte: “We posted ourselves on the north end of the Pontcysyllte (Aqueduct) at 11.30pm, and watched continuously for over an hour over the valley of the Dee, and particularly over some fields near the Argoed farm. Twice I distinctly noticed a large ball of fire rise from the earth and suddenly burst luridly.” Mary Jones was in the area.
20th — Mary Jones had been preaching at Wrexham, and the lights had been seen there.
25th — In the early hours of the morning, Rev. E.W.E. reports seeing lights towards Penrhys Hill, near Ystrad in Rhondda, from his home after attending a meeting with Mary Jones.
27th — Dr. R.J.M. sees a light at Libanus in Rhondda, where Mary Jones was holding a meeting.
Unfortunately, Capel Bethel in Llanfair is no longer in quite the tranquil setting it was some decades ago, as represented in an old photo by Paul Devereux. Instead, it now has a whacking great big major road by it, as is evident from Google Maps (centre) and Geograph (very far right, centre). Compare also Walk 2 (now in Bilingual™!).
I'm confused as to which reporter the Daily Mail sent out. An SPR report and Stars and Rumours of Stars says Bernard Redwood, but Frank Dilnot writes a whole chapter about being dispatched to Egryn in his book. Perhaps they sent out both?
I've been able to find Bryn Hyfryd in Llanbedr on the 1901 map, but not Ty'n-y-drain. For that matter, Islawrffordd isn't marked on the 1901 map either.
Paul Devereux dates three of the most important events as follows:
Devereux must be wrong about (b) because it is reported as having occurred at “seven o'clock” one night, and then “the minister who was with us was so shaken that he was unable to work the following day”. It was then “given to the Daily Mirror in North Wales yesterday”, relative to the 14th. So the story was given on the 13th, and by then the minister must not have been able to go to work. Therefore the latest the event could have happened, the night preceding the minister not turning up for work, is the 12th February.
Though Devereux then dates (c) relative to (b), and (a) relative to (c), these relatives can't be deduced from relatives in the original media reports, only absolutes, so I don't think that (a) and (c) are affected.
From what I can tell, the events of the week were as follows:
How sweet a pastime 'tis to wander,
Mochras, on thy lonely shore,
And o'er thy many treasures ponder,
List'ning to th' Atlantic roar!
— Rev. C. Lesingham Smith
December ’04 — Auroral Arch — Black Bottle — January ’05 — Prince of Wales Feathers — Shooting Clap — Towyn Observations — Beriah Jones's Lights — February — The Bryncrug Lights — Defective Arc-Lamp — Bontddu Glow — Kernel of Fireworks — Chapel Roof Arcs — Northern Flashes — Rainbow Bottle — Bar of Light — March — Gleaming and Scintillating — Ty'n-y-Drain — The Pwllheli Light — Llanfair Lights — May — Froncysyllte Lights — Wrexham and Rhondda
5th December 1904
(1) On Mary Jones's first meetings: “She was full of expectation but the first meeting, on a Monday evening, chilled her very heart. However, another was announced for the Thursday. It was better attended, and people took part more readily, she herself making the first attempt.”
— British Weekly, Rev. Elvet Lewis, 26th Jan 1905; via McClure
(2) On Mary Jones: “It was quite recently that she first saw a mysterious star in the air before her, pointing out the way. It was not like any ordinary star, being infinitely more powerful and looking like a brilliant white light hung in the air only a short distance away. She followed the path it indicated and won converts by the revival message she was taking round the neighbourhood.”
— Daily Mirror, 13th Feb 1905, p.6
(3) “The 'stars' and 'lights' appeared for the first time on the night that Mrs Jones commenced her public mission at Egryn. The star was heralded by a luminous arch, of the character of the 'Aurora Borealis', one end resting on the sea, the other on the hill-top (a distance of well over a mile), bathing the little chapel in a flood of soft effulgence. The star soon after appeared, its light flooding the chapel itself. Ever since then, up to the middle of February, the star and the lights have always accompanied Mrs Jones' mission.”
— Occult Review, Beriah Evans, March 1905; via McClure
Devereux cites the Manchester Guardian, 9th February, one of the famous series of articles by Beriah Evans, for the same information as in quote (3) above. Presumably Evans's piece in the Occult Review reused material from his earlier series.
22nd December 1904
(1) At 5:18pm, three observers saw a large light “about half way from the earth to the sky, on the south side of Capel Egryn, and in the middle of it something like [a] bottle or black person, also some little lights scattering around the large light in many colours. Last of all the whole thing came to a large piece of fog, out of sight.”
— Psychological Aspects of the Welsh Revival, A. T. Fryer
2nd January 1905 [?] — “I saw the light you refer to one night at the beginning of January (between 10 and 10.30pm). At first I saw two very bright lights, about half a mile away (it was between Dyffryn and Llanbedr) one a big white light, the other smaller and red in colour. The latter flashed backwards and forwards, and finally seemed to have become merged in the other. Then all was darkness again. It did not appear in the same place again, but a few minutes after we saw another light which seemed to be a few yards above the ground. It looked like one big flame, and all around it seemed like one big glare of light. It flamed up and went out alternately for about ten minutes, very much in the same way as some lighthouses.” (SPR Letter)
5th January 1905 — “On Thursday night of last week Mrs Jones attended a meeting at Pensarn, where hundreds of people congregated. The chapel can be seen from the railway and as a train, driven by a Machynlleth man, was passing, a strange light was seen shooting out of ten different directions, and then coming together with a loud clap. ‘Never do I wish to see anything like it again,’ said the driver in relating his experience. Both he and his mate saw the light which, since then, has been seen by other people, but in a different form.” (Cambrian News, 13th January)
Mid January 1905 — “Mr R Bowen, the stationmaster at Towyn, yesterday stated to a correspondent that he had seen in the Manchester Guardian that Mr Beriah Evans claimed to have seen a luminous star which made a dart towards the hills of Dyffryn, and other erratic movements. The star was observed by Mr Bowen about a month ago. It is a large, luminous body, with 3 large sparklets emanating from it, apparently about a foot in diameter, similar to that observed round the moon, (this seems to refer to a yellowish ring seen around it) and generally accepted as an indication of a coming storm.” (Manchester Guardian, 17th Feburary)
Late January or Early February 1905 — “One night it remained practically in the same position from 6.30 to 7.50pm When sought for again, it had travelled in 12 minutes from a point opposite Towyn to the North-West, and stood opposite, as far as he could judge, Bardsey Island.” (Manchester Guardian, 17th Feburary)
31st January 1905 — “We had just passed the level-crossing of the Cambrian railway in the fields, when Mrs Jones directed our attention to the southern sky. While she yet spoke, between us and the hills, and apparently two miles away, there suddenly flashed forth an enormous luminous star flashing forth an enormously brilliant white light, and emitting from its whole circumference dazzling sparklets like flashing rays from a diamond. [...] the star made a sudden huge jump towards the mountains, returning almost immediately to its old position, and then rushing at an immense speed straight for us. [...] And a second light, very different in character from the first, became [...] perceptible at some distance below the star, both obviously rushing towards us. As the train drew nearer the 'star' disappeared. With a rush and a roar the train was past. [...] the mysterious star reappeared nearer, and if possible more brilliant than ever. Then it vanished as suddenly as it had first appeared. [...] In a moment, high up on the hillside, quite two miles away from where the 'star' had been a moment previously, a 'light' again flashed out, illuminating the heather as though bathed in brilliant sunshine. Again it vanished - only again to reappear a mile further north evidently circling the valley, and in the direction for which we were bound. [...] So far the 'light' and 'star' had been equally visible to and seen alike by the five who formed our company. Now it made a distinction. Having left the fields and proceeded some distance along the main road, all five walking abreast, I suddenly saw three brilliant rays of dazzling white light stride across the road from mountain to sea, throwing the stone wall into bold relief, every stone and interstice, every little fern and bit of moss, as clearly visible as at noonday, or as though a searchlight had been turned on that particular spot. There was not a living soul near, nor a house from which the light could have come. Another short half-mile, and a blood-red light, apparently within a foot of the ground, appeared to me in the centre of the village street just before us. I said nothing until we had reached the spot. The redlight had disappeared as suddenly and mysteriously as it had come - and there was absolutely nothing which could conceivably account for its having been there a moment before.” (Daily News, 9th February)
10th Feburary — “at Bryncrug, between Towyn and Abergynolwyn, twenty-five miles from Dyffryn, the chapel where the meeting was held became bathed in mysterious light. After the meeting a professional gentleman returning homeward suddenly saw a gigantic figure rising over a hedgerow, with right arm extended over the road. Then a ball of fire appeared above, a long white ray descended and pierced the figure, which vanished. This extraordinary manifestation was witnessed simultaneously by a prominent local farmer from another standpoint. A party of youths returning from a Bryncrug meeting saw a ball of fire preceding them high above the road. Hastening forward they overtook the light, which then remained still. They knelt in the roadway, bathed in this mysterious light, and united in prayer, while the light remained stationary." (Daily News, 16th February)
11th February 1905 — “At 8.15pm I was on the hillside, walking from Dyffryn to Egryn. In the distance, about a mile away, I could see the three lighted windows of the tiny Egryn chapel, where service was going on. It was the only touch of light in the miles of countryside. Suddenly at 8.20pm I saw what appeared to be a ball of fire above the roof of the chapel. It came from nowhere, and sprang into existence simultaneously. It had a steady, intense yellow brilliance, and did not move. [...] It seemed to me to be at twice the height of the chapel, say fifty feet, and it stood out with electric vividness against the encircling hills behind. Suddenly it disappeared, having lasted about a minute and a half. [...] The minutes crept by and it was 8.35pm before I saw anything else. Then two lights flashed out, one on each side of the chapel. They seemed about 100 feet apart, and considerably higher in the air than the first one. In the night it was difficult to judge distance, but I made a rough guess that they were 100 feet above the roof of the chapel. They shone out brilliantly and steadily for a space of thirty seconds. Then they both began to flicker like a defective arc-lamp. They were flickering like that while one could count ten. Then they became steady again. In the distance they looked like large and brilliant motor-car lights. They disappeared within a couple of seconds of each other. [...] I set off to walk the four miles to Barmouth, stopping here and there for ten minutes to watch for fresh lights. [...] Just after half-past ten I was startled by a flash on the dark hillside immediately on my left, and looking up I saw I was comparatively close to one of the strange lights. It was about 300 feet up the hillside, and about 500 feet from where I stood. It shone out dazzlingly, not with a white brightness, but with a deep yellow brightness. It looked a solid bulb of light six inches in diameter, and was tiring to look at. I ran at the stone wall by the side of the road, climbed it, and made a run for the light. It was gone before I had covered a dozen yards, and I could find nothing but the bare hillside. When I reached the road again I looked back along the way I had come, and saw in the roadway near the Egryn Chapel another of the bright lights.” (Daily Mail)
11th February 1905 — “At Bontddu, near Dolgelly, on Saturday, the brilliant effulgence of a star paled the lights of the room she occupied. Returning homewards after a meeting, her carriage was suddenly bathed in mysterious light descending from a radiant ball in the heavens. Many Barmouth people witnessed this as they were rushing to meet the carriage on entering the town.” (Daily News, 16th February)
11th February 1905 [?] — “at 10.30pm [...] I then told Mrs Jones how anxious I was to see the light for myself, and she said she would pray that it might appear to me. I made arrangements to drive back behind her carriage. Both drivers consented to drive without lights. In the first carriage were Mrs Jones and three ladies, in my own with me, the Daily Mirror photographer, a keen witted, hard headed Londoner. [...] For three miles we drove in silence, and I had given up hope. It was close on midnight, and we were nearing Barmouth when suddenly, without the faintest warning, a soft shimmering radiance flooded the road at our feet. Immediately it spread around us, and every stick and stone within twenty yards was visible, as if under the influence of the softest limelight. It seemed as though some large body between earth and sky had suddenly opened and emitted a flood of light from within itself. It was a little suggestive of the bursting of a firework bomb - and yet wonderfully different. Quickly as I looked up, the light was even then fading away from the sky overhead. I looked up to see an oval mass of grey, half open, disclosing within a kernel of white light. As I looked it closed, and everything was once again in darkness. Every one saw this extraordinary light, but while it appeared to me of snowy whiteness, the rest declared it was a brilliant blue.” (Daily Mirror journalist, to the Society for Psychical Research)
[Cambrian News says Sunday; Beriah Evans in the Daily News says Saturday; Daily Mail says Saturday she was at Bontddu. But if the sighting was on the 11th, why didn't the Daily Mirror journalist see the light that bathed the Bontddu room? Perhaps because that refers to where Mary Jones was staying, and not the meeting?]
12th February 1905 [?] — “At seven o'clock I and my wife and a minister and his wife set out with Mrs. Jones from her house. We had just got outside the gate when we saw an extraordinary sight immediately over our heads, but high up in the air. It was an irregular mass of white light. It travelled with lightning speed in the direction of Egryn Chapel, a mile away. Arrived there, It suddenly took the shape of a solid triangle with rounded angles. I should estimate the length of the sides as 5ft. Immediately over one corner of the chapel it hovered, and, in spite of the distance, we could see every slate on the roof. The inside of the triangle sparkled and flashed as if set with a thousand diamonds. The brilliance of it was almost terrible. For a moment, while we stared spellbound, the mystic light rested there, and then, like the lightning flashes, described an arc in the air and again settled on the opposite corner of the chapel.”
13th February 1905 — “On Monday night the star was kept under observation through a telescope by Mr Bowen, and it travelled nearer to the land at 10.30pm. When opposite Harlech, as near as he could guess, it suddenly disappeared, and although watched for some time did not reappear. The night was clear, with a frost in the air.” (Manchester Guardian, 17th Feburary)
13th February 1905 — “suddenly in the northern sky a brilliant flash appeared, and shortly afterwards a second one, the first flash being followed by a distinct report. This light appeared momentarily, and did not seem to partake of the characteristics of lightning, but was peculiarly like the illumination produced by a magnesium flash lamp. Our delicate instruments did not respond in the slightest degree, and what these flashes really were it is impossible to conjecture.” (Daily Mail)
c.13th February 1905 — “It [a large square of light, half a mile from the observer over the tops of mountains a mile from Egryn Chapel] did not rest on the mountain-top, but was poised in mid-air about ten feet above. Between it and the mountain was a mass of white cloud. In the middle of the square was a bottle-shaped body, the bottom bright blue and the rest black. Out of the neck came a mass of fire of every conceivable colour. This [...] spreading on all sides, descended in a rainbow shower to the surface of the mountain. In less than a minute all was darkness.” (Daily Mirror, 16th February, via Devereux)
14th February 1905 [?] — “For several hours I had been watching with the Daily Mirror photographer near the little Egryn Chapel. We took our stand at 6.30 PM, and by ten o'clock had seen nothing. Then 400 yards away I saw a light which I took for an unusually brilliant carriage lamp. When I went in its direction and was about 100 yards from the chapel, it took the form of a bar of light quite four feet wide, and of the most brilliant blue. It blazed out at me from the roadway, within a few yards of the chapel. For half a moment it lay across the road, and then extended itself up the wall on either side. It did not rise above the walls. As I stared, fascinated, a kind of quivering radiance flashed with lightning speed from one end of the bar to the other, and the whole thing disappeared. ‘Look! Look!’ cried two women standing just behind me; ‘Look at the Light!’ [...] Within ten yards of where that band of vivid light had flashed across the road, stood a little group of fifteen or twenty persons. I went up to them, all agog to hear exactly what they thought of the manifestation — but not one of those I questioned had seen anything at all!” (Rider's Review)
5th March 1905 — “‘That,’ he said, pointing to a high brick structure which faced the road, ‘is Egryn chapel, where the revival started, and where already some fifty converts have been added to the church. I hope we may see the lights,’ he said, and added, half apologetically, half pityingly: ‘It is not given to every one to see them. Spiritual things are not discernable of all men.’ The road now rose quickly, and at the summit the farmer suddenly stopped, excitedly seized my arm, and shouted triumphantly: ‘Yonder are the lights!’ He pointed with outstretched arm and shaking finger to the spot where, among the uncertain shadows, the dark outline of the chapel appeared to rest upon the hills. Beyond I saw some half-dozen lights. They gleamed, scintillated, jumped, and then vanished, to reappear at brief intervals.”
13th March 1905 — “Mrs Jones was holding a revival meeting at a Methodist schoolroom, Ty'n-y-Drain, a mile and a half from Llanbedr in the direction of the mountains. [...] It was about 11 o'clock at night, Monday, March 13th, with a little drizzling rain, but not very dark. [...] After proceeding some distance the mysterious 'light' suddenly appeared above the roadway, a few yards in front of the car, around which it played and danced, sometimes in front, at other times behind Mrs Jones' vehicle. When we reached the crossroads where the road to Egryn makes a sharp turn to the left, the 'Light', on reaching this point, instead of following the road we had travelled and going straight on as might have been expected, at once turned and made its way in the direction of Egryn in front of the car! Up to this point it had been a single 'light' but after proceeding some distance on the Egryn road, it changed. A small red ball of fire appeared, around which danced two other attendant white lights. The red fire ball remained stationary for some time, the other 'lights' playing around it. Meanwhile the car conveying Mrs Jones proceeded onwards, leaving the 'lights' behind. These then suddenly again combined in one, and made a rapid dash after the car, which it again overtook and preceded. For over a mile did we thus keep it in view.” (Barmouth Advertiser, 23rd March)
25th March 1905 — “The night which I am going to relate you my experience was Saturday evening, March 25th, 1905, when Mrs Jones, the evangelist of Egryn, was conducting a service in the Calvinistic Methodist Chapel at Llanfair, a place about a mile and a half from Harlech, on the main road between Barmouth and Harlech. My wife and myself went down that night specially to see if the light accompanied Mrs Jones from outside Egryn. We happened to reach Llanfair about 9.15pm. It was a rather damp evening. In nearing the chapel, which can be seen from a distance, we saw balls of light, deep red, ascending from one side of the chapel, the side which is in a field. There was nothing in this field to cause this phenomenon, ie. no houses, etc. After that we walked to and fro on the main road for nearly two hours without seeing any light except from a distance in the direction of Llanbedr. This time it appeared brilliant, ascending high into the sky from amongst the trees where lives the well-known Rev.C.E. the distance between us and the light which appeared this time was about a mile. Then about eleven o'clock when the service which Mrs Jones conducted was brought to a close, two balls of light ascended from the same place and of a similar appearance to those we saw first. In a few minutes afterwards Mrs Jones was passing us home in her carriage, and in a few seconds after she passed, on the main road, and within a yard of us, there appeared a brilliant light twice, tinged with blue. In two or three seconds, after this disappeared, on our right hand, within 150 or 200 yards, there appeared twice very huge balls of similar appearance as that which appeared on the road. It was so brilliant and powerful this time that we were dazed for a minute or two. Then immediately there appeared ascending from a field high into the sky, three balls of light, deep red. Two of these appeared to split up, while the middle one remained unchanged. Then we left for home, having been watching these last phenomena for a quarter of an hour.” (Mr L.M., to the Society for Psychical Research)
|5th December 1904||Mary Jones||Auroral arch over Egryn Chapel from the hills to the sea|
|22nd December 1904||Three observers||On the south side of Capel Egryn|
|2nd January 1905 [?]||Anonymous||Two bright lights between Dyffryn and Llanbedr, half a mile from the viewer. Other lights, location not noted|
|5th January 1905||Machynlleth man||Near Pensarn chapel, seen from the train|
|Mid January 1905||R. Bowen||Darting towards the hills of Dyffryn|
|Late January or Early February 1905||R. Bowen||[Non-Mochras] From a point opposite Towyn to the North-West, and to standing opposite Bardsey Island|
|31st January 1905||Beriah Evans||(1) Between Islaw'rffordd Farm, Dyffryn, and Egryn, to the south of the Cambrian railway crossing, about two miles away. (2) Same position, between them and the hills. (3) Up on the hillside two miles away. (4) Striding across the road from mountain to sea. (5) Half a mile further on, just over the middle of a village road.|
|10th February 1905||Beriah Evans||[Non-Mochras] Surrounding the chapel at Bryncrug. Other people saw lights on the way home, in unspecified locations|
|11th February 1905||Daily Mail journalist (Redwood? Dilnot?)||(1) Lights over Egryn Chapel. (2) After 8:35pm left Egryn to go to Barmouth, and at 10:30pm saw lights a flash to his left on the hill 500 yards away. (3) Another bright light from there visible back towards Egryn Chapel|
|11th February 1905||Beriah Evans, 2nd hand||(1) Where Mary Jones was in Bontddu. (2) When entering Barmouth, from Bontddu.|
|11th February 1905 [?]||Daily Mirror journalist||Three miles from some place (Bontddu? Egryn Chapel?), towards Barmouth|
|12th February 1905 [?]||Clergyman||From Islaw'rffordd Farm darting towards Egryn Chapel and settling on the chapel roof|
|13th February 1905||R. Bowen||[Non-Mochras?] Light opposite Harlech (from Towyn?), seen through telescope|
|13th February 1905||Bernard Redwood||A flash in the sky north of Egryn Chapel, from the hills by Egryn Chapel|
|c.13th February 1905||Farmer||One mile from Egryn Chapel, over a mountain top|
|14th February 1905 [?]||Daily Mirror journalist||Bar of light 400 yards, then 100 yards, from Egryn Chapel|
|5th March 1905||Express journalist||Directly behind Egryn Chapel, as apparently observed from the road in the north not quite as far as Islawrffordd|
|13th March 1905||Rev. H D Jones||Some distance from Ty'n-y-Drain, a mile and a half from Llanbedr; the light then followed them along the road to Egryn, including turning sharp left where the road turns sharp left; visible for about a mile|
|25th March 1905||L.M.||(1) Lights from the field adjacent to Llanfair Chapel. (2) Light in the distance, about a mile away, in the direction of Llanbedr. (3) At Llanfair Chapel. (4) Just outside of Llanfair Chapel, on the road in the direction that Mary Jones went. (5) From the same place, towards the right about 175 yards, and from a field|
Approximate distances from Egryn Chapel:
|5th December 1904||Auroral arc, Capel Egryn|
|22nd December 1904||Large light, south of Capel Egryn|
|2nd January 1905||Feather lights, Dyffryn and Llanbedr|
|5th January 1905||Bursting light, Pensarn|
|5th January 1905||Light at Towyn|
|31st January 1905||Many lights at Islawrffordd and Capel Egryn|
|Jan or Feb 1905||Between Towyn and Bardsey Island|
|10th February 1905||Lights at Bryncrug and in the surrounding area|
|11th February 1905||(1) Capel Egryn, (2) Bontddu, and (3) Barmouth|
|12th February 1905 [?]||Islawrffordd to Capel Egryn|
|13th February 1905||(1) Harlech and north of (2) Capel Egryn|
|14th February 1905||400 yds to 100 yds from Capel Egryn|
|4th March 1905||Location not legible|
|5th March 1905||South of Capel Egryn|
|13th March 1905||Llanbedr and a mile towards Egryn|
|15th March 1905||West End in Pwllheli|
|25th March 1905||Capel Bethel in Llanfair|
|19th March 1905||Froncysyllte|
|20th March 1905||Wrexham|
|25th May 1905||Penrhys Hill, near Ystrad in Rhondda|
|27th May 1905||Libanus in Rhondda|
Mochras: 15, Non-Mochras: 8, Uncertain: 1
The following excerpts are contemporary reports taken from the Daily Mail in the months of February and April 1905. These aren't all the reports for this period; sadly some of them are missing from the online interface.
February 1905 -
April 1905 - 6th · 14th · 21st
WELSH SEER AND HER STAR.
Peasant Woman About Whom Shines a Mysterious Radiance.
Whole District Converted by Her Marvellous Powers.
Wales, worked up to a state of religious frenzy by the revival fervour of Evan Roberts, is roused to a state of mixed enthusiasm and dread at the mysterious happenings in the county of Merionethshire.
On the lonely farm of Islaw'rffordd, a couple of miles from Dyffryn Station, mid-way between Barmouth and Harlech, on the Cambrian Railway, lives Mrs. Mary Jones, over whom rests a mysterious heavenly Light as she goes about her revival work in the surrounding country.
Though a regular church-goer and communicant for seventeen years, Mrs. Jones's conversion only dates back about two years. Greatly impressed by the work which Evan Roberts was doing in the South of Wales at the end of last years, she lifted up her voice in public prayer for the first time, and broke down hopelessly. Then, in the privacy of her own chamber, she prayed long and earnestly that she might be the means of converting her friends and neighbours.
HER SERVICE ACCEPTED.
One night she had a vision in which she was told that what she asked was for another. In the morning she visited this friend, and imparted to her the message she had received.
“Oh, I can never do it,” was all her friend would say.
That night Mrs. Jones's “Star” appeared. It was December 5, 1904. She attended the little chapel, and told how the commission had been refused, and “my service is accepted,” she said.
From that moment she set about her new work, and within a fortnight all but four of the friends and neighbours whom she had prayed to be allowed to convert had publicly professed their convertion.
Led by her Star and Light, she then extended her mission, and the four chapels and two churches at Dyffryn fell under her influence almost at once.
And the mysterious Lights and Star. They have been seen all over the district in which she has so far carried on her work. It extends from Cricieth in the north to Aberdovey, forty miles to the south. When she arrived at Cricieth by train the Star was seen shining above the house in which she was to stay. At Harlech the Lights were watched by dozens of people.
Mrs. Jones never sets out upon a mission unless the Light is ready to accompany her, and it returns with her after the mission is accomplished.
Herself quite ready for her meeting, Mrs. Jones waits for the coming of the Star. Suddenly it springs into being, brilliantly white and infinitely larger than any other star, like a powerful light hanging in the heavens some two miles away.
It is impossible to suggest that it is an ordinary star, for it is to be seen when the sky is clouded, and its size is infinitely too great. From its surface flash rays as from some enormous diamond.
Perhaps it may remain steady, or perhaps, again, it may make a sudden great jump into the heavens, dropping at once to its old position, but all the time seeming to advance rapidly towards the missionary.
But the Star soon gives place to the Light. It disappears as suddenly as it first came into being, while, on the distant hillside, miles, maybe, from when the Star had last shone, breaks out a patch of softest radiance, but lighting up the heather as though with brilliant sunshine. Then, appearing and disappearing, the Light travels in the direction Mrs. Jones is to take upon her mission.
But the Lights are not always like this. Occasionally they take the form of brilliant beams of light flashing from hill to hill across the road before, illuminating every detail of the path on which they strike with the clearness of a searchlight. At other times the Light will appear as a blood-red lamp upon the path before her. And the woman herself. There is nothing about her to attract attention. For thirty-eight years she resided in the district unnoticed. Her attainments are most ordinary, and her education is that of her class—the peasant class.
As already stated, the mysterious manifestations have been seen by numberless persons, among them several clergymen, professional men, and journalists. Here are some representative names:
The Rev. Roger Williams, pastor of the Congregational Church at Dyffryn.
Mr. Beriah Evens, a well-known journalist of Carnarvon, and correspondent of the “Yorkshire Post.”
The Rev. Llewelyn Morgan, of Harlech. He was one of a crowd of several dozens of persons who watched the Lights at Harlech.
Mr. Evans Thomas, a solicitor, of Machynlleth. With a number of others, he accompanied Mrs. Jones to a meeting at Aberdovey.
These were ready to testify, and have already done so, of what they have seen. In each case their evidence, though taken separately, corresponds with that of each of them and of Mrs. Jones herself.
|WONDERFUL WELSH SEER.|
|Mrs. Mary Jones, of Islaw'rffordd Farm, near Dyffryn, in North Wales, and her daughter. She is said to be accompanied by a miraculous star when she goes about her revival work in the neighbourhood. Sometimes this star appears in the heavens to guide her on her way; at other times a soft radiance illuminates her path. These phenomena have been vouched for by many disinterested witnesses.||The farm, Islaw'rffordd, where Mrs. Mary Jones lives. It is about two miles from Dyffryn Station, midway between Barmouth and Harlech, on the Cambrian Railway. She has lived in the district for thirty-eight years, and only lately has been visited by the mysterious lights that now frequently accompany her. (See page 6.)|
“WELSH SEER AND HER STAR.”
Mr. J. Evans-Thomas, solicitor, Machynlleth, writes to deny the statement in the Daily Mirror that he attended one of the meetings of Mrs. Jones, the Welsh preacher of the mystic light.
He observes that he has never seen Mrs. Jones, and beyond making this contradiction feels no interest in the phenomenon and expresses no opinion about it.
A WELSH MIRACLE.
Seldom has a more curious story been reported than that of the miraculous lights which are said to accompany Mrs. Mary Jones, whose portrait is on page 1, upon her revivalistic journeys through the neighbourhood in which she lives.
Mrs. Jones is a typical woman of the fairly well-to-do peasant class, of no particular education, and certainly without any great measure of imagination. She has lived in the district where she now resides, midway between Barmouth and Harlech, in North Wales, for thirty-eight years without attracting any attention until just lately.
It was quite recently that she first saw a mysterious star in the air before her, pointing out the way. It was not like any ordinary star, being infinitely more powerful and looking like a brilliant white light hung in the air only a short distance away. She followed the path it indicated and won converts by the revival message she was taking round the neighbourhood.
Since then the star has been the constant companion of her journeys, though at times it rather takes the form of a soft radiance upon the path than a bright sort of light.
This extraordinary story by no means rests upon Mrs. Jones's word alone, for a large number of other people have seen the phenomenon, and many clergymen, professional men, and others, whose position makes them credible witnesses, testify from personal experience of its reality.
WOMAN WITH THE HALO.
What Is the Strange Light, and How Is It Caused?
Data for Speculators from Evidence of Eye-witnesses.
Can anyone explain the mystery of the strange light which accompanies Mrs. Mary Jones, the revival preacher, as she journeys through the secluded valley of the Mawddach?
Is it supernatural?
Is it “a sign from Heaven”?
Is it marsh gas or “will-o'-th'-wisp”?
Is it electric or St. Elmo's light?
These are some of the queries suggested by Daily Mirror readers. Others ask:—
Is it an “astral body” attempting to “materialise”?
Is it due to radium?
Is it “imagined” by Mrs. Jones and “induced” in others by “hypnotism”?
Is it a trick?
To assist speculators and investigators we recall some of the descriptions of the light already given:
Daily Mirror correspondent:
A soft shimmering radiance flooded the road at our feet. It spread around us, and every stick and stone within twenty yards was visible, as if under the influence of the softest limelight.
It was a little suggestive of the bursting of a firework bomb, and yet wonderfully different.
“BRILLIANT MOTOR-CAR LIGHTS.”
“Daily Mail” correspondent:—
Suddenly I saw what appeared to be a ball of fire above the roof of the chapel. It had a steady, intense, yellow brilliance, and did not move.
Later two lights flashed out, one on each side of the chapel. They seemed about 100ft. apart, and considerably higher in the air than the first one. In the distance they looked like large and brilliant motor-car lights.
Just after half-past ten I was startled by a flash on the dark hill-side. It looked a solid ball of light 6in. in diameter, and was tiring to look at.
Mr. Beriah G. Evans, a Carnarvon journalist:—
Between us and the hills, and apparently two miles away, there suddenly flashed forth an enormous luminous start with an intensely brilliant white light, and emitting from its whole circumference dazzling sparklets like flashing rays from a diamond.
Another short half-mile, and a blood red light, apparently within a foot of the ground, appeared to me in the centre of the village street just before us.
MYSTIC LIGHT CONVERT.
Sceptical Clergyman Testifies to the Welsh Revival Miracle.
An extraordinary corroboration of the halo was given to the Daily Mirror in North Wales yesterday.
The story is told by a local clergyman, who regarded the whole affair as the outcome of superstition.
“I ought to tell you,” he said to the Daily Mirror, “that, so far from being in sympathy with Mrs. Jones, I exhorted my congregation not to be led astray by any stories they might hear or anything they might think they saw.
“I shall never dare to do such a thing again. At seven o'clock I and my wife and a minister and his wife set out with Mrs. Jones from her house.
“We had just got outside the gate when we saw an extraordinary sight immediately over our heads, but high up in the air.
“It was an irregular mass of white light. It travelled with lightning speed in the direction of Egryn Chapel, a mile away.
“Arrived there, It suddenly took the shape of a solid triangle with rounded angles. I should estimate the length of the sides as 5ft.
“Immediately over one corner of the chapel it hovered, and, in spite of the distance, we could see every slate on the roof.
“The inside of the triangle sparkled and flashed as if set with a thousand diamonds. The brilliance of it was almost terrible.
“For a moment, while we stared spellbound, the mystic light rested there, and then, like the lightning flashes, described an arc in the air and again settled on the opposite corner of the chapel.
“We all saw it, and the minister who was with us was so shaken that he was unable to work the following day.”
WELSH SEER CONDUCTING REVIVAL MEETING.
A flashlight photograph of Mrs. Mary Jones, wife of a Welsh farmer, in the pulpit of Talsarnan Bethel Chapel, conducting a revival meeting. It is said that when Mrs. Jones is preaching in the little chapel mysterious lights of dazzling brightness are to be seen in the sky.
What Are the Mysterious Lights in the Welsh Sky?
The “balls of fire” seen in the neighbourhood of the Welsh woman revivalist's dwelling are probably a phenomenon similar to the Northern Lights, or to the more familiar meteors often seen in this climate.
They are obviously capable of some simple natural explanation.
FELLOW OF THE ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY. Burlington House.
At last a miracle is being performed, daily, hourly, and in the sight of all men!
Let our “competent witnesses,” let our men of science, let all who quibble, and doubt, and fear, make a sincere pilgrimage to Egryn and see that the “legend” of the Magi, led by their wandering star, is being realised once more in the case of a poor Welsh woman set apart for some great and mysterious purpose!
M. LEWELLYN. Barmouth, Wales.
SECRET OF THE MYSTIC LIGHT.
Scientist Suggests It Was Due to Marsh Gases.
RELIC FROM THE AGES.
The Daily Mirror has succeeded in obtaining some explanation of the mystic halo, associated with Mrs. Jones, the Welsh revivalist.
In a wire from North Wales last night, our special correspondent says:—
I have had from a resident in the Barmouth neighbourhood, who has attained some distinction in scientific studies, an explanation of the mysterious lights.
If not conclusive, it at least goes some way to the solution of the problem.
He attributes the whole thing to an easily explained scientific origin, and says this is a very ordinary natural phenomenon.
It occurs from time to time, and often takes the various reported weird shapes. It is due to the fact that the minds of those who have seen it have been in a state of unhealthy exultation through the religious revival.
“The origin on the whole thing,” he said, “is a marsh-gas or will-o'-the-wisp. This gas rises from putrefying animal or vegetable matter.
“It is given off by putrefying fish in greater volume than by any other substance.
“How, you say, could dead fish be carried up the mountain side where these lights have been so often seen?
“Very simply. Ages and ages ago those mountains were covered by the sea. When in the fulness of time the sea receded, perhaps through oceanic upheaval, millions of fish were left behind to die.
“Ages after that they would be covered by the gradual accumulation of matter and the natural changes of the soil's surface.
“Later on they would come to the surface again, and emit chemical matter, which in certain states of the atmosphere would ignite. The light so caused would be white, blue, red, or yellow, of various sizes and degrees of brilliancy.
“It has long been known to scientists that this marsh-gas can be carried distance by mist or fog.
Visions of Frenzied Minds.
“Now for the strange shapes in which these lights have appeared. I consider they took these shapes simply in the minds of those who saw them—minds strung up to the required pitch as the minds of all these people are under the influence of the revival.
“I do not say they have seen what does not exist. All I say is that, having seen a light actually in existence, their half-frenzied minds have given it an unearthly and unnatural shape.
“It is a remarkable thing that only to the emotional Welshman has the light taken these strange forms.
“While the ‘Daily Mail’ correspondent has seen the light he has seen it in its natural form as a ball of fire or star, and as for the light you yourself saw on Saturday night, your description of it makes me feel sure that it was a flash of globular lightning, uncommon perhaps, but by no means unknown.
An 1859 Precedent.
“I remember the same kind of things were seen in the revival of 1859, and even then scientists said it was quite capable of a scientific explanation.
“I myself spent several hours last night on the road near Egryn Chapel, and certainly I saw many flashes of light on the hills, which could not have been caused by lamps.
“They would appear at one place, disappear, and appear in another, or appear in two or three places at once, in the form of flashes. One flash was distinctly red, and a brilliant light appeared on the estuary bank here, travelled rapidly across to the opposite bank, and disappeared.
“Those who saw it say it was impossible for anyone to travel across at that pace, but it is a significant fact that about that time a man in the neighbourhood was caught manipulating a large lantern.
“I do not myself, think, however, that the various phenomena can have been produced by trickery. The area of the manifestations is too great.”
An interesting article on the scientific meaning of this mysterious light appears on page 11.
REAL OR IMAGINARY?
Scientific Inquiry Into the Lights in the Welsh Sky.
THE CAMERA TEST.
If They Can Be Photographed There Will Remain No Doubt of Their Reality.
The following discussion by a man of science of the mysterious lights seen near Egryn Chapel, between Harlech and Barmouth, in Wales, will be read with much interest.
The lights are supposed to be intimately connected with a mission at the chapel conducted by Mrs. Jones, of Islaw'rfford Farm. Mrs. Jones herself, in common with many of her co-religionists, believes that they are a direct sign of the Divine approval of her work.
She says they accompany her when she goes to preach as far distant from her home as Criccoth and Aberdovey, and that they usually appear over her chapel when a service is being held there—like the light on the Clock Tower when Parliament is sitting.
Mary persons profess to have seen these lights. Public attention was first called to their existence by Mr. Beriah G. Evans in the “Manchester Guardian” of last Thursday. Special correspondents of the “Daily Mail” and Daily Mirror, who have been sent to investigate the matter, report that they also saw them, and compare them to arc-lamps or “large and brilliant motor-car lights” shining on the desolate hillside above Egryn Chapel. Thus, they cannot be dismissed as merely one of those fictions which so often accompany periods of high religious or other emotional tension.
CELTIC BELIEF IN GHOSTLY LIGHTS.
It is notable that, from the earliest times, appearances of this kind have been supposed to accompany great religious or other events.
In Celtic countries, especially, popular superstition is full of stories of ghostly lights. All over the Highlands the belief in the “dreag,” a light in the sky which stops over the house in which a death is shortly to occur, may still be found. Wales, in particular, has long known various kinds of corpse-candles.
One of these, the “Tau-we,” has a curious resemblance to Mrs. Jones's lights. It appears in the lower regions of the air, and is distinguished from a falling star by its slow motion. “It lighteneth all the air and ground where it passeth, lasteth three or four miles or more, for aught is known, because no man seeth the rising or beginning of it; and when it falls to the ground, it sparkleth and lighteth all about.”
There are undoubtedly several physical explanations of these mysterious lights. First we have the meteor or fire-ball, which may be as bright as the full moon, and is seen flying through the air at a moderate elevation. Secondly, there is the will-o'-the-wisp, or “ignis fatuus,” due to the slow combustion of methyl hydride, or marsh-gas. Its characteristic bluish colour, and its occurrence only in marshy places, or where there is decaying matter present—as in insanitary burial grounds—explain most stories of corpse-candles. Thirdly, we have lights due to atmospheric electricity, such as St. Elmo's fire or the aurora. Fourthly, there are hallucinative or subjective lights, which have no real existence outside the brain of the person who thinks that he sees them.
The two former explanations seem to be out of the court in the present case. Bright meteors are of such rare occurrence that we cannot imagine a sudden rain of them to have coincided with the evenings of Mrs. Jones's mission, and to have been confined to her immediate neighbourhood. The “ignis fatuus,” which is easily recognisable by all who have once seen it, does not correspond to the descriptions of the Egryn lights.
Atmospheric electricity, however, might supply a possible explanation. Mrs. Jones described her first vision as “preceded by a luminous arch, like a misty rainbow, one end resting on the sea, the other on the mountain-top.” This might well apply to an aurora seen by an unpractised observer. Auroras are not common in these latitudes, but they do occur at times; and it is worth noting that they usually coincide with the appearance of great sun-spots, such as that which has been visible during the last fortnight.
THE PROBABLE HYPOTHESIS.
There remains the suggestion that these lights are mainly hallucinative, or subjective, phenomena due to the heightened expectation and peculiar nervous tension of the watcher. This is perhaps the most likely hypothesis.
A very important point in Mr. Evans's narrative is that he saw the lights whilst in company with Mrs. Jones and three other person; Mrs. Jones also professed to see them, but the other three saw nothing. This is conclusive as to the subjective character of some at least of these manifestations. At the same time, the correspondents of the Daily Mirror and “Daily Mail” are chosen from a class of observes who learn not to fancy that they see a thing merely because it is alleged to exist.
There is a very easy way to settle the question. If the lights can be photographed their objective existence will at once be determined. The spectroscope, also, would show us whether or not the characteristic auroral line appeared in them. The experiment seems worth trying. Till it is made, we can only suspend our judgment, with a leaning towards the hypothesis of hallucination.
There is, of course, a fifth theory—that some local pyrotechnist is having a practical joke.
WATCHING FOR THE MYSTIC LIGHTS
A flashlight photograph showing some people outside Egryn Chapel, where Mrs. Jones is conducting her revival mission, watching for the mystic lights. Mrs. Jones was conducting a meeting inside when this photograph was taken.
THE MYSTERIOUS WELSH LIGHTS.
Such phenomena as spirit lights are not unknown to investigators. It is notable that Professor C. Ricket, in his address to the Society for Psychical Research (6th inst), says: “For my part I should be inclined to believe in the reality of these luminous forms—these lights, these materialisations.”
C. DEHOLME. Willesden.
It is a libel on the Almighty to imagine for one moment that He would express Himself by such means as these lights. I take it the cause is brain trouble.
Delirium patients often say they have seen white birds, flashes of light, and so on.
I am afraid your correspondent is mistaken—at any rate, as regards the light seen by him whilst driving in the carriage with Mrs. Jones on Saturday night.
He mentions that just before midnight a bright light shone on the road in the immediate vicinity of the carriage in which he was driving.
This was simply an unusually bright meteor, or shooting star, which was visible over the greater part of Wales, and which I myself and a great many of my friends saw last Saturday night just before midnight.
W. WATTS. 21, Bellevue-street, Swansea.
The mysterious lights recently seen in North Wales, writes a Minsterley correspondent, were due to the searchlight of a travelling menagerie. “Strange lights on the hillside seen at Welshpool were certainly traced to this agency.”
“MIRACLE” LIGHTS OF EGRYN.
Welsh Prophetess Has a New Story of the Uncanny Flashes.
The Barmouth prophetess, Mrs. Mary Jones, is attracting great congregations in Denbighshire to hear the story of the weird things she has seen and heard.
At a revival demonstration in Cefnmawr, near Ruabon, she renewed her story of the supernatural lights of Egryn. A lady recently drove in a carriage to Egryn Chapel, and when nearing the chapel her horse suddenly halted and refused to budge.
Simultaneously an unknown voice was heard exclaiming, “Take off thy shoes, as the ground whereon thou standest is sacred.” The lady alighted and beheld mysterious lights, which traversed the earth's surface.
Mrs. Jones said her assertions had been mocked, but she strenuously maintained the lights existed, even as God did. She recounted an exploit of a London scientific expert who accompanied her from Bontddu to Barmouth, when half the light fell upon them like lightning in thousands of sparks, and illuminated the countryside for miles around.
Photographer Saw Nothing.
Two other men watched the light, which fell upon Egryn Chapel, and scattered into ten distinct lights. Electric wires to tap the lights were fixed, but at he crucial moment the lights would not be drawn. A photographer with a camera saw nothing.
A strange circumstance occurred yesterday morning. Miss Jane Jeffreys, with whom the prophetess is residing, awoke suddenly at five o'clock and distinctly heard wonderful music, like horns from Elfland faintly blowing to the accompaniment of mystic singing, which died away as though cut off by closing doors.
The prophetess told the Daily Mirror that this was another form of the manifestation.
MYSTIC LIGHTS OF EGRYN.
Parties of Sceptical Ministers and Others Watching Nightly.
Remarkable evidence respecting the mystic lights which are said to accompany Mrs. Mary Jones, of Egryn, in her revival peregrinations is given by two Nonconformist ministers, who, as the result of a vigil on Wednesday night, have abandoned their former scepticism.
The Rev. High Parri and the Rev. Lloyd Hughes, with others, watched at Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, adjoining the temporary residence of the seeress. Towards midnight Mr. Parri was startled by the appearance of a wonderful ball of fire which burst in a field bordering the adjacent river Dee. The phenomenon was soon repeated.
Mr. Hughes and Mr. Parri then clearly discerned another remarkable light, which travelled slowly towards Vronseyllt, where the prophetess had just concluded a revival meeting. This phenomenon was repeated twice.
[Adventures of a Newspaper Man
by Frank Dilnot (1913)
The Manchester papers in the beginning of 1905 contained reports of weird happenings on the coast near Barmouth, under the shadow of Cader Idris. This part of Wales, like many other parts, was under the revival influence, and you could feel the prevalent emotion in the ordinary everyday life, in the shops, in the little hotels, in the little post office, on the farms, among the roadside workers. Emotion was in the air. You went to any one of these districts as an English- man, with a kind of smiling derisiveness, and you were there but a day or two before you were compelled, at any rate, to accept the mood of the people seriously and to regard the revival spirit as an extraordinary and substantial fact. That has to be taken into account in reading the story I am about to relate.
When strange stories of supernatural visions began to emanate from the district of North Wales, of which I am writing, English people smiled tolerantly and said: "Well, well!" The story getting abroad was to the effect that a wave of religious enthusiasm was rolling over the district, that it was receiving its impulses largely from a simple farmer's wife, who, touched with inspiration, was bringing religious truths to the hearts of the people for miles round her home, and that as an accompaniment to the wonderful change in this woman, and the wonderful work she was accomplishing, heavenly lights of bright- ness and magnitude were appearing on the hill- sides and in the sky in the part of the countryside where she was carrying on her ministrations. I dare say this looks at once stupid and fantastic. If it were put into fiction it would hardly be possible to give it a touch of reality. Yet, as a matter of fact, this was the situation as reported in paragraphs and occasional longer articles in the Manchester papers. At first in London we thought it was not worth while paying attention to these statements they seemed so far-fetched and so obviously born of ecstasy. But presently there appeared in the Manchester Guardian a care- fully-written article, signed by a correspondent who had made a special visit to the place, in which details were given of some of these manifestations.
It was coldly and clearly stated by the corre- spondent that he had seen these weird lights on an evening when the farmer's wife went out to preach at some outlying chapel. He described them with particularity, and to him it seemed that they kept pace with the trap in which she was driving along, and their vividness and continuity were described with obvious genuineness.
This to matter-of-fact, materialistic Fleet Street was, in common talk, a staggerer. It was im- possible to think that the correspondent was wilfully writing what was not true ; it was clearly impossible that in writing his story he had been deceived absolutely by things which had a per- fectly natural explanation. What it all meant it was hard to say. There was only one thing for a live newspaper to do, and that was to send down a London correspondent to learn if he also could witness these strange visions, and, if he could, to try to find out what they arose from. It was on this mission that I left London for Barmouth, the nearest town of any size. With a feeling of disappointment, I ran against a correspondent from another paper, the Daily Express, when changing at a station on the way I think it was Welshpool. He was bound on the same errand as myself, and I had been hoping that I was on the way to an exclusive story.
Only a few days later, however, I found myself very pleased that a rival newspaper man was present, because he was not far from me on the night I saw some strange things ; and he was able to tell the public in his journal a somewhat similar story to my own. Why should I be glad ? it may be asked. For this reason : That after I returned to London I was met with a smiling disbelief from colleagues and friends. All kinds of suggestions were made that I had dined not wisely but too well ; that I had been over- anxious to secure a sensational narrative, and had exaggerated trivialities ; that I had whole- heartedly invented a fairy tale. It soothed me, therefore, to think that if I had been wholly off my balance, and had been deluded in a wholesale wa}', at least the influences were exercised simul- taneously upon a rival who saw the same as I did and gave to the world very much the same facts as I did. All this by the way.
Running northward from Barmouth by the side of the sea, the main road passes along at the base of a range of hills, and some three or four miles on enters the village known as Egryn, and then proceeds a mile or two further into the tiny grey town of Duffryn. That, in a sentence, is the lay of the country. It was Egryn which was the centre of the manifestations, and it was Egryn where lived Mrs. Jones, the farmer's wife, who was believed to be the objective round which the manifestations centred.
There were perhaps a dozen or so of houses in Egryn, and they were not grouped together, but were scattered over the countryside a farm- house here, a labourer's cottage here and there, and at a point on the roadside was the tiny Calvinistic Methodist chapel, removed from any habitation. Mrs. Jones worshipped within it, and the neighbourhood of the chapel was one of the places where the lights were frequently seen. My first thought on getting to Barmouth was to see if it were possible for these mysterious lights to arise from natural causes; to find out if they were " will-o'-the-wisps" or some kind of electric phenomena. I disposed of the first suggestion at once, for I found nothing in the configuration of the country to lead me to suppose that the lights resulted from marshy gases or similar influences.
As you went north along the road from Barmouth the hills sloped up from the right, and on the left were fields separating the road from the sea. At Egryn the margin between road and sea increased considerably, but there was nothing in the character of the intervening land to lead to an explanation of the strange lights, and, indeed, this supposition was disposed of by the fact that the lights were seen generally on the uplands; "in the sky" was a frequent descrip- tion of their location. On the sloping fields leading towards the steeper hillsides, there was nothing to lead to the discovery of the origin of the lights. The hills above the fields and meadows were barren of cultivation, and the desolate stretches of loose stony material were without so much as a cottage for miles, without even a shepherd's hut. There were no trees nor any means of concealment for possible organisers of a great practical joke. I covered- the ground pretty thoroughly and could find nothing to help me as to the cause of the lights.
The next step was to collect evidence from people who were not likely to be carried away by their emotions, and I quickly came upon a surprising state of things. I went to a local tradesman in Barmouth, to working people, and to ministers of religion. From nearly all of them I received the same kind of evidence about the lights. It seems that the lights varied a good deal varied in number though not very much in appearance. They were globular, bright lights which appeared suddenly high up away from the ground, some- times in groups of twos and threes or more, sometimes singly, and they lasted from periods of seconds to periods extending over an hour. They were described as sometimes being stationary half-way up the hillside, sometimes as moving along the hillside with the trap of Mrs. Jones as she drove to service (though there was not such overwhelming evidence of this as of the simple appearance of the lights).
The thing that impressed me most was the matter-of-fact and obviously sincere assertions of the different witnesses. Most of them took the appearance of the lights as something not calling for any great wonderment or, indeed, for more than passing comment. That Heaven should take upon itself to give some outward and visible sign of its approval of the prevalent enthusiasm was the most natural thing in the world. That was the general spirit. I remember going to a big chapel at Duffryn, the minister of which was a level-headed man who had a night or two before my arrival seen the lights. The service was pro- ceeding when I arrived, but in response to a message to the platform, the minister came down and had a chat with me about the matter, and his statement was clear. " I saw these lights," he said, "to the number of seven. They appeared to be in the sky."
My journalistic colleague and rival had made somewhat similar inquiries to my own in other directions, and his general conclusions were in consonance with my own, and we arranged to join forces at night in order to watch for the lights. It was during the afternoon before our first vigil that I made a journey on my own account to see Mrs. Jones, the reputed origin of all the strange happenings. She lived in a lone farmhouse at Egryn, between the sea and the hills.
I first saw Mrs. Jones's brother, a quiet-spoken Welshman, who told me that the lights were generally visible on the occasions when his sister went forth to preach. I learnt, too, how Mrs. Jones had taken no part at all in public speaking, but had been a reserved, home-loving woman, reticent of speech, only a few months before. Her influence over audiences, her con- fidence and power on the platform, had come suddenly.
Mrs. Mary Jones I found a simple-mannered country woman of thirty-five, her hair touched with grey. She was absolutely without self- consciousness, and had a quiet, easy mien. Her tone was deep and soft, but her brown eyes were alive with a strange light. I think she had natural powers of personality. She spoke to me quite freely about the strange lights. She did not associate them particularly with herself, she said, although it was true that they had been seen during the time she was on her way to chapel. She added, with a low-voiced intensity, she knew they were Heaven-sent, and that they were connected with the revival.
For two nights, on Thursday and Friday, my fellow-journalist and I paced the miles between Barmouth and Duffryn from Egryn, along at the foot of the hills, in the hope of seeing the lights. We saw nothing. We were particularly dis- appointed, because Mrs. Jones, on the second of the two nights, was out preaching at a village some two miles away, and it was on such occasions, we had been told, that the lights appeared. Saturday night came, and we went out for our third watch. Truth to tell, we had little expectation, because our previous experiences had left us with the increasing im- pression that in some miraculous way the whole population had deluded itself.
It has to be remembered that in walking from Barmouth the first place to be encountered was Egryn, and after that, some distance on, Duffryn. My friend and I had walked to Egryn about seven o'clock, and had then made our way on to Duffryn, keeping our eyes on the black hillsides meanwhile. We saw nothing. Somewhere between half-past seven and eight o'clock we started to walk back from Duffryn in the Barmouth direction. We strolled along, occasionally stopping and leaning over the breast-high walls which served in the place of hedges upon the roadside, looking out on to the blackness of the hillsides, and making our surmises as to the origin of the whole affair. Strolling along towards Egryn, he dropped a little way behind me perhaps as much as fifty yards.
A mile ahead, the situation of the little Egryn chapel was shown by its three -lighted windows, evidence that service was going on within. That was the only touch of light in the miles of countryside.
I remember sitting down on a big boulder on the side of the road waiting for my friend to come up, and sitting there, I was idly looking towards Egryn, when suddenly I saw what appeared to be a ball of fire above the roof of the distant chapel. It came from nowhere and sprang into existence instantly. It had a steady, intense yellow brilliance, and did not move. I whipped out my watch, for I wanted to be exact in any description of what I saw, and I found the time to be twenty minutes past eight. My friend came hurrying up with a shout, and we stood together trying to imagine that the light was easy of explanation. A labouring man was hastening to us from a hundred yards behind, and I said to him : " Do you see that?" pointing to the light, and he replied, excitedly : " Yes, yes, above the chapel. The great light."
The three of us stood and watched the light. It seemed to me to be about twice the height of the chapel say fifty feet and it stood out with electric vividness against the hills behind. We were, it should be remembered, about a mile away. Suddenly it disappeared, having lasted a minute and a half. With my journalistic colleague I remained leaning over the way- side wall, waiting for further developments, the countryman leaving us and making his way on alone. Again the chapel windows were the only lights in all the countryside. The minutes crept on, and it was about twenty-five minutes to nine before we saw anything else. Then it was that two new lights burst forth over the chapel like the one before, but this time con- siderably higher in the air. They looked to be about a hundred feet apart, and 1 guessed them to be about the same distance above the roof of the chapel. They shone out brilliantly and steadily for a space of thirty seconds, and then they both began to flicker like defective arc lamps. They were flickering like that while one could count ten. Then they became stationary again. From where we were they looked like large and brilliant motor-car lamps. They dis- appeared within a couple of seconds of each other, having lasted about six minutes.
We started off quickly in the direction of the chapel to find out what we could. The lights might have been described as appearing in the air above the chapel, although in view of the fact that they showed up against the dark background of the hill it was possible for them to have been placed on the hillside itself. The mental impression, however and I carefully noted the fact at the time was that they were in the air and not on the hills. Breathlessly we discussed the matter as we hurried on towards the chapel, and all kinds of guesses were put forward only to be thrown down again immediately. The chapel door was fastened, and I knocked. An elderly man came to the door.
" There have been some lights appearing above the chapel," I said. " Do you know anything about them?"
" No," he said soberly, " but they often appear when we are holding service here." For nearly two hours afterwards we paced up and down the road looking for fresh demon- strations, but we saw none ; and it was just before half-past ten that we decided to give up the vigil for the night. We had passed Egryn Chapel and were well on the way to Barmouth at about a quarter to eleven. We were walking along, chatting together, when we suddenly saw on the hillside on our right a flash. Immediately we realised that one of the lights was before us again. It was about five hundred feet from where we stood, and shone out with an intense yellow brightness. A bulb of light about six inches in diameter, is the best way to describe it. To look at it was tiring to the eyes.
Hurrying to the stone wall at the side of the road, we climbed over, and began to run across the intervening field towards the light. We had not covered a score of yards before it disappeared, and there was not a sound anywhere throughout the night except the low gurgling of the sea some few hundreds of yards on the other side of the road behind us. We went up the hillside over the intervening meadow and fields to the spot near about where we imagined the light to have been located. We found nothing but the loose shale on the hillside no sign of a human being, no available place of concealment, and nothing in the shape of a dwelling near by.
That, then, is what I saw at Egryn. There has been no explanation of it. The journal which I represented sent down, with characteristic enter- prise, highly-equipped scientific experts to explore the country, to test the hills for electricity, and to use whatever ingenuity was possible to find out the secret. They did not find it out. They came back with smiling incredulity at my story. The story remains for what it is worth. All that I can say is that I am not a Welshman, and that I was not moved by any of the revival enthusiasm of the district, and that I certainly saw the lights I have described.
[March 12 1905, p.23?]
REVIVALISTS SEE A GREAT LIGHT
WEIRD PHENOMENA OBSERVED IN WALES
Inhabitants Much Worked Up Over Illuminations That Accompany Devotions of a Successful Local Preacher
Special Cable to The Herald.
LONDON, March 11.—The Daily Mail says: Lights of unknown origin and of dazzling brightness are shining out by night on the hillside above the little chapel of Egryn, in North Wales. The people of the countryside, keenly alive to superstitious infliences, regard the strange lights with steadfast face and calmness, believing them to be material signs from heaven in connection with the revival.
The months ago the revivial spirit touched the little Merionethshire village of Egryn, and Mrs. Mary Jones, the wife of a local farmer, roused much fervor in the village and gained many converts.
Soon after this local revival began rumors were afloat that strange lights were to be seen in the sky when Mrs. Jones went abroad, that sometimes they acompanied her to the place of worship she was visiting, that they were always to be seen when she was preaching, and that they made their most frequent appearance over the chapel at Egryn, where the revival started.
Under these circumstances a special correspondent of the Daily Mail was sent to investigate the matter. He has seen the lights, and says of them: “At 7 o'clock in the evening I made my way through Egryn, watcing the black hillside. I walked back again across the lonely meadow, and saw nothing. At 8 o'clock I had decided that the whole thing was a local superstition.
“Half an hour later my views were changed. At 8:15 I was on the roadside, walking from Dyffrin to Egryn. In the distance, about a mile away, I could see the three lighted windows of the tiny Egryn chapel, where service was going on. It was only a touch of light in the miles of countryside. Suddenly, at 8:20, I saw what appeared to be a ball of fire above the roof of the chapel. It came from nowhere and sprang into brilliance and did not move.
“I set out to walk the four lonely miles to Barmouth, stopping here and there for ten minutes to watch for fresh lights.
“Just after 10:30 I was startled by a flash on the dark hillside immediately on the left, and looking up I saw I was comparatively close to one of the strange lights. It was about 300 feet up the hillside, and about 500 feet from where I stood. It shone out dazzlingly, not with a white brightness, but a deep yellow brightness. It looked a solid bulb of light, six inches in diameter, and was tiring to look at.
“I ran to the stone wall by the side of the road, climbed it, and made a run for the light. It was gone before I had covered a dozen yards and I could find nothing but the bare hillside. When I reached the road again I looked back along the way I had come, and saw in the roadway near the Egryn chapel another of the bright lights.
“That is, baldly, what I saw. The lights may be capable of some natural explanation, but I give the coincidences wor what they are worth.”
“The meeting, which was marked by many of the signs of religious exaltation which characterise the meetings of Evan Roberts (the South Wales Revivalist) ended at 1o.30 PM, and I then told Mrs. Jones how anxious I was to see the ‘Light’ for myself , and she said she would pray that it might appear to me. I made arrangements to drive back behind her carriage. Both drivers consented to drive without lamps. In the first carriage were Mrs. Jones and three ladies; in my own with me the Daily Mirror photographer, a keen-witted, hard-headed Londoner. The weirdness of that drive in semi-darkness at break-neck speed by river and mountain, round deadly corners, and down precipitous hills, I shall never forget. For three miles we drove in silence, and I had given up hope. It was close on midnight, and we were nearing Barmouth, when suddenly, without the faintest warning, a soft shimmering radiance flooded the road at our feet. Immediately it spread around us, and every stick and stone within twenty yards was visible, as if under the influence of the softest limelight. It seemed as though some large body between earth and sky had suddenly opened and emitted a flood of light from within itself. It was a little suggestive of the bursting of a firework bomb — and yet wonderfully different. Quickly as I looked up, the light was even then fading from the road overhead. I seemed to see an oval mass of grey, half open, disclosing within a kernel of white light. As I looked it closed, and everything was once again in darkness. Every one saw this extraordinary light, but while it appeared to me of snowy whiteness, the rest declared it was a brilliant blue. Mrs. Jones considered it a direct answer to her prayer. Is there any possible explanation? Was it a flash of summer lightning? No lightning I ever saw took that form, and the idea was laughed to scorn by others.”
Mrs. Jones, writing me her own account of this incident, describes the light as first of all enveloping her carriage and the horses, making the inside of her closed carriage as light as at mid-day, and then spreading to the roadway behind as described above. Contrast this, which occurred seven miles from Mrs. Jones's home, with the same journalist's experience in the immediate vicinity of her own chapel at Egryn. He writes:
“I have again seen the mysterious ‘Light’ in an entirely new form. For several hours I had been watching with the Daily Mirror photographer near the little Egryn Chapel. We took our stand at 6.30 PM, and by ten o'clock had seen nothing. Then 400 yards away I saw a light which I took for an unusually brilliant carriage lamp. When I went in its direction and was about 100 yards from the chapel, it took the form of a bar of light quite four feet wide, and of the most brilliant blue. It blazed out at me from the roadway, within a few yards of the chapel. For half a moment it lay across the road, and then extended itself up the wall on either side. It did not rise above the walls. As I stared, fascinated, a kind of quivering radiance flashed with lightning speed from one end of the bar to the other, and the whole thing disappeared. ‘Look! Look!’ cried two women standing just behind me; ‘Look at the Light!’ I found they had seen exactly what had appeared to me. Now comes a startling sequel. Within ten yards of where that band of vivid light had flashed across the road, stood a little group of fifteen or twenty persons. I went up to them, all agog to hear exactly what they thought of the manifestation — but not one of those I questioned had seen anything at all!”
By comparing the above statements with my own experience as given in a previous article, these two essential facts are established: (a) That the “Light” which is seen in the heavens, and which is variously described as a “star,” a “lamp,” a “ball of fire,” &c ., is visible to all, and illuminates everything within its radius. (b) That the “Light” which takes the form of bars — single or multiple — and is seen only on the ground, or upon solid objects, e.g., walls, comes from no perceptible source, and is visible to only a few out of many present at the same time. I may add from my own experience and that of others — (c) That the “Light” sometimes takes the form of a coloured ball of fire, which, while itself visible to the few and invisible to the many, does not illumine surrounding objects in immediate proximity to it.
Police-constable Jones of Dyffryn, with commendable zeal endeavoured to apprehend the “Light” as a disturber of the King's peace. His evidence is to the effect that on his late night beat he saw a light flashing on the road, and then resting on the top of the wall, and radiating in all directions. There arose also from the top of the wall three columns of fire of brilliant copper- colour, each of them about three feet in height, and about six inches wide. When he approached it, it disappeared. Let me again briefly quote the experience of some of the disappointed ones. Thus the Daily Mail special correspondent writes:
“Three lonely watchers stood on the mist-swept slopes of the Egryn Hills throughout the night waiting for the ‘Lights’ which the local people believed to come from Heaven. They were the two special commissioners (scientists) and the special correspondent from the Daily Mail. Powerful glasses ranged the hill sides, black with night, but never was there a sign of light save from the two windows of the little Egryn Chapel a mile away, where worshippers were praying and singing with ecstatic fervour. ‘Oh!’ said an old Welshman, ‘you won't see the Lights to-night, for Mrs. Jones has gone away!’”
[** In the interests of truth, however, it should be here stated that while, as a rule, the Light has always been seen when Mrs. Jones was present, whether at Egryn or at distances of ten or twenty miles away from her home, it has also occasionally been seen at Egryn when she herself was far away. — BGE]
Again the same correspondent on another date:
“The origin of the eerie ‘Lights’ is still wrapt in mystery. On Sunday night, in gusty rain, solitary pedestrians in mackintoshes made their way by the road above the sea, in the hope of seeing the mysterious ‘Lights.’ All were disappointed. For myself, I tramped the meadows and the roadway from half-past seven till nearly eleven. I saw nothing, and an old lady I met on the road professed to explain their absence, pointing out that there was no service that night at the little Egryn Chapel, and that Mrs. Jones had not gone out on her mission that night. Here to her was ample explanation of the absence of the ‘Lights.’”
Yet again the special correspondent of the Sunday Chronicle:
“After spending a week in nightly vigil, animated by the hope of running to earth the mysterious ‘Lights’ which have accompanied the Welsh Revival in the neighbourhood of the Egryn Hills, the most persistent inquirers have had to confess themselves baffled. The weird ‘Lights’ have refused to appear for examination, and the sifting of evidence concerning them has been made impossible in the meantime by the activity of practical jokers.”
With reference to the closing words of the last paragraph, it may be pointed out that no practical joker, however ingenious, could simulate the manifestations of the light described above in connection with (a) The Daily Mirror correspondent's night drive; (b) the same correspondent's experience near the chapel; and (c) Police-constable Jones's evidence. Similar instances could be multiplied ad. lib.; but I select these because the narratives cannot be charged with being “the visions of frenzied minds,” nor, as the Rev. G. Henry Sandwell charitably suggests in the Daily News, that “it is the Lunacy Commissioners and not the Psychical Research Society who have an interesting and very sad problem before them in Wales.”
I have already said, and reports in the daily papers go to show, that vulgar curiosity has been doomed to disappointment, and that sceptic scientists have been baffled. When the strong detachment of Philistine journalists had retired from the quest disappointed, Mrs. Jones, in the course of public prayer, thanked God “that He had not allowed His Sacred Light to be photographed by earthly-minded men, nor their curiosity to be satisfied by a sight of His glorious manifestations.” And immediately upon the retirement of this band of curiosity-hunters, the “Lights” re-appeared as brilliantly as ever!
A well-known Nonconformist minister* writes me that on the [* Here, as before, I should say that omitted names can always be urnishcd for verification, though not necessarily for publication. — BGE] first night after Mrs. Jones's return to Egryn after a prolonged absence on mission work in another county — where also I gather from newspaper reports the mysterious Light was in evidence during her visit — the “Lights” suddenly re-appeared at Egryn. He states that a fellow minister, himself a prominent Revivalist, who was on a visit to him at his home some miles away from Egryn, and who was, as most strangers are, somewhat sceptical about the bona fides of the claims advanced by Mrs. Jones in connection with the Lights, expressed a desire to see Mrs. Jones in person. She had only returned home that afternoon. During their visit both saw the “Lights” very much as described by me; and, adds my correspondent, “what we both saw on that occasion left no possible room for doubt, and fully convinced my ministerial colleague; the facts cannot be denied; these things are as real as anything I have ever seen in my life.” And giving his personal experience of the “Lights,” he adds: “I shall never forget those few minutes. I cannot describe my experience that night — but it was to me as the finger of God Himself.”
The Rev. HD Jones, Baptist Minister of Llys lolyn, Llanbedr RSO, Merionethshire, has just given me particulars of a remarkable personal experience of these Lights in connection with Mrs. Jones's mission. I give here his statement in full, with the names and addresses to authenticate it:
“Mrs. Jones was holding a Revival Meeting at a Methodist Schoolroom a mile and a half from Llanbedr. We had a most effective meeting, Mrs. Jones being at her best. A local farmer, Mr. Morris Jones, Uwch-law'r-Coed, drove Mrs. Jones back to her home at Egryn, there being three others also in the car. I, in company with Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Jones, Bryn Hyfryd, Llanbedr, followed on foot a short distance behind the vehicle. It was about 11 o'clock at night, Monday, March 13, with a little drizzling rain, but not very dark. Mrs. Jones had previously assured us that the ‘Lights’ had accompanied her there that night, though none of us had seen them.
“After proceeding some distance the mysterious ‘Light’ suddenly appeared above the roadway, a few yards in front of the car, around which it played and danced, sometimes in front, at other times behind Mrs. Jones's vehicle. When we reached the cross-roads where the road to Egryn makes a sharp turn to the left, the ‘Light’ on reaching this point, instead of following the road we had travelled and going straight on as might have been expected, at once turned and made its way in the direction of Egryn in front of the car!
“Up to this point it had been a single ‘Light,’ but after proceeding some distance on the Egryn road, it changed. A small red ball of fire appeared, around which danced two other attendant white ‘Lights.’ The red fire ball remained stationary for some time, the other ‘Lights’ playing around it. Meanwhile the car conveying Mrs. Jones proceeded onwards, leaving the ‘Lights’ behind. These then suddenly again combined in one, and made a rapid dash after the car, which it again overtook and preceded.
“‘For over a mile did we thus keep it in view. Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Jones were together the whole time, and saw what I have described, and we are each prepared to make sworn testimony to that effect if desired.”
Replying to questions I put to him, the Rev. Mr. Jones said he had frequently travelled that road before, late at night, but had never seen any such “Light” there before. He had made inquiries of respectable farmers, lifelong residents of the neighbourhood, and they all affirmed the same thing. Having answered my queries, Mr. Jones proceeded:
“And now I should like to put a few questions to scientists and sceptics:
“1. Where did the ‘Light’ we saw come from?
“2. Why did the ‘Light’ meet and accompany the car conveying Mrs. Jones?
“3: Why did it, on reaching the cross-roads, turn from the straight road and take the road turning sharp to the left, which Mrs. Jones would have to travel?
“4. Why did it then, after remaining stationary until the car had proceeded some distance ahead, make a sudden dash to overtake the vehicle playing around it again before finally disappearing?
“5. As there can be no question about Mrs. Jones's godliness, or of the successful and blessed work she is performing for the Master, will any one dare to say that the Spirit of Lies dwells with the Spirit of Truth in her heart?”
I have permitted Mr. Jones to tell his story in his own words, and I here make no comment upon it. He has, however, undoubtedly added an important factor towards the solution of the problem which these mysterious Lights present. How these articles impress others may be illustrated by another communication which I select out of a huge mass of unsolicited correspondence. The writer is a well-known public man, a Doctor of Divinity, the author of a number of standard works on theology, a popular preacher and lecturer. He writes:
“Many thanks for your article. It has filled me with amazement and I am dumb. I was on the point of writing an article to disapprove of what I considered extravagances in Mr. Evan Roberts, and his assumption of knowledge beforehand of the number to be converted, &c . Your article has made me stay my hand lest I be found writing against the Holy Ghost.”
This last communication opens up an interesting field of comparison and of speculation. There is a most remarkable coincidence between the experiences of Mr. Evan Roberts, the working-man Revivalist of Glamorganshire, and of Mrs. Jones, the peasant Revivalist of Merionethshire. Each claims to have been [...]
I now come to that part of the subject which has perhaps caused more excitement in the public mind than any other feature of the Revival. All my readers must have heard of the mysterious lights in Merionethshire associated with the name of Mrs. Jones of lslawrffond, near Dyffryn. This good lady is, I am told, a very simple, quiet person, whose life until recently has been passed in obscurity. Some time ago she read Sheldon’s book, In His Steps, and was much moved by it. She determined to work for the spiritual good of her neighbours, and she begin her ministry early in December, 1904. The story is that she is attended by lights of various kinds wherever she goes, and, as I shall show presently, there is more in this personal attention than might be supposed. I am spared the necessity of giving minute details, since Mr. Beriah G. Evans, a Carnarvon journalist, has taken care to inform the world as to the lights, and his account of what he and others have seen may be read in The Occult Review for March, April, and ,June, 1905. The numbers are in the S. P. R. Library. It is important to notice that the coast in the neighbourhood of Dyffryn has been favoured or disfavoured with lights of many shapes and sizes in former times. Pennant in his Tour in Wales gives a full account of the appearances of mischievous blue flames that alarmed people and did material damage near Harlech in 1694. Lights of a blue colour appeared also in the neighbourhood of Pwllheii in 1875, and the publication of Mr Picton-Jones’ account of what he then saw elicited from a correspondent the relation of a similar occurrence in 1869 or 1870. Again in 1877 lights of various colours were seen moving over the estuary of the Dysynni. Through the kindness of the editor of the Oswestry Advertizer I have received the extracts from his Bye-gones” columns, which give the notes on lights for the three years 1869, 1876, and 1877. These are quoted in my Appendix (16). I am not satisfied with the investigations that have taken place, and I think now, as I did at the first, that the Society might well employ a geological expert to go over the district and discover, if possible, what conditions are present favourable to the natural production of incandescent vapours. Mr. Bernard B. Redwood (Son of the well-known scientific expert, Sir Boverton Redwood) was sent down by the Daily Mail in February, 1905, but his report, (Footnote:This report was not published in the Daily Mail, but Mr Redwood kindly sent a copy of it to us – Editor) which I give in the Appendix (17), is not to me conclusive. He planned his investigation on the supposition of electrical disturbance, and I am not surprised that he was disappointed at the result. He says, with more approximation to what I think is the cause of some of the lights, that it is just possible that there may have been some lights caused by spontaneous ignition of phosphuretted hydrogen generated in the marsh at Egryn and distorted by mist. He adds that “Methane or marsh gas is never self-ignited, and may be left out of the question.’’ With his personal opinion of Mrs. Jones I am not disposed to agree but granting its truth, we have still to reckon with the witnesses I shall quote as to the reality of both subjective and objective lights. The evidence received I proceed to give, first, however, stating my conviction that Merionethshire has been the scene of late of a large amount of exaggeration and misconception, and perhaps trickery. But having made all allowance for persons who mistook meteors, brightly-shining planets, farm lanterns, railway signals, and bodies of ignited gases for tokens of heavenly approval of Mrs. Jones and the Revival, there remain sufficient instances of abnormal phenomena to encourage further inquiry. Evidence of misapprehensions I have received.
A vicar in the neighbourhood has sent me the following: A very reliable man informed me that one morning last week February,  on looking out through his bedroom window about 6 a.m. he saw some remarkable lights rising over the marsh indicating a wave, bluish colour, and ascending up into the heavens and vanishing away, but he did not in any way connect the light with the Revival in any shape or form.”
Correspondents from whom I have managed to obtain evidence relate various
experiences. Mrs. Jones of Islawrffordd wrote on January 16th, 1905:
I have seen the light every night from the beginning of the Revival
about six weeks ago. Sometimes it appears like a motor-car lamp flashing
and going out, and injures nothing at all; other times like two lamps
and tongues of fire all round them, going out in one place and lighting
again in another place far off sometimes; other times a quick flash
and going out immediately, and when the fire goes out a vapour of smoke
comes in its place; also a rainbow of vapour and a very bright star.”
She said that the lights were always seen out of doors, and at about
six o’clock in the evening. I asked if they had been seen by any
one who had not been converted, and the answer was “Yes.”
A man at Dolgan says (January 25th, 1905): “We have not seen it now for a fortnight. We saw it for eight nights some time back at about 11 o’clock. We were afterwards a week without seeing it, and then we saw it once more …. It was very like the light of a lamp, but not so bright, and appeared to me to move gradually. Once I saw it move swiftly. It was in a place where there was no light to be. It appeared very low down, along the ground, I should think,” In reply to queries he says that the colour was a weak white light, always very much the same; it appeared at first accidentally, it was not expected. There is a ditch running through a ravine near the spot.
Another correspondent says that only once did he see the light, on
January 2nd, 1905. ‘‘It was hovering above a certain farmhouse,
and it appeared to me as three lamps about three yards apart, in the
shape of a Prince of Wales’s feathers, very brilliant and dazzling,
moving and jumping like a sea-wave under the influence of the sun on
a very hot day.
The light continued so for ten minutes. All my family saw it the same time, it was 10.40 p.m. at the time.” My questions were treated by him as evidence of utter unbelief, and repeated requests for further information met with refusals.
A young woman of some education wrote (February 4th, 1905): “I saw the light you refer to one night in the beginning of January [between 10 and 10.30 p.m.] At first I saw two very bright lights, about half a mile away” [it was between Dyffryn and Llanbedr] one a big white light, the other smaller and red in colour. The latter flashed backwards and forwards, and finally seemed to become merged in the other. Then all was darkness again. It did not appear in the same place again, but a few minutes after we saw another light which seemed to be a few yards above the ground. It now looked like one big flame, and all around it scorned like one big glare of light. It flamed up and went out alternately for about ten minutes, very much in the same way as some lighthouses.”
It is probable that the two persons whose accounts I have just given saw the same light from different points of view.
On December 22nd, 1904, at 5.18 p.m., another deponent saw, in company with two other persons, a large light “about half way from the earth to the sky, on the south side of Capel Egryn, and in the middle of it something like [a] bottle or black person, also some little lights scattering around the large light in many colours. Last of all the whole thing came to a large piece of fog, out of sight.”
Another writer, whose account is given in the Appendix (18), describes the light as a pillar of fire, quite perpendicular, about two feet wide and three yards in height.
A correspondent whose opinion, from his position in relation to some of the persons quoted, I am disposed to trust, says that the prevailing view in the neighbourhood is that the lights seen along the coast from Towyn to Portmadoc by scores of people at divers times between 6 p.m. and midnight, and in divers forms, are phosphorescent lights, not associated with any person or building. The light has been seen by many, Chapel members and non-members alike, and at the same time, whether Mrs. Jones be at home or away. About Mrs. Jones’s own experiences he declines to express an opinion.
Lengthy communications from a husband and wife at Harlech on the same coast, given in the Appendix (19), contain similar evidence, and some account of earnest endeavours to see the lights in Mrs Jones’s presence.
I need not refer to other communications received from the neighbourhood of Welshpool, save to point out that this locality is several miles away from the other, and yet the descriptions of lights are to some extent similar.
On Wednesday, June 21st, 1905, I interviewed a medical man in the Rhondda fach, who saw on May 27th, at night, a globe of light about the size of a cheese plate, or nearly the apparent diameter of the moon, over the chapel where Mrs. Jones was that evening preaching. He made sure by comparing this light with the gas lamps within sight, that it was not an ordinary lamp. I have had a photograph taken from the very spot where the doctor stood when he and his wife saw the light, and have marked on it the place where the light appeared (see Plate 1.) As may be seen from this photograph, the background of the chapel, as viewed front the house front, is the other side of the narrow valley, the black mark being just over the flat roof of a house on the further side of the street below. Now it is quite possible that some one willing to deceive his neighbours might have perched himself on the mountain side with a powerful lamp; but why, in that case, he should select a position from which the light could only appear to be right over the chapel to a very few persons, those in or in front of the uppermost terrace of houses, and why he should expose the light only for a few minutes, are points that require explanation. The doctor is in sympathy with Mrs. Jones, and when he informed her that he had seen this light she declared that she had also seen it, but from within the chapel. This case is given in full in the Appendix (20).
A second account of a light appearing in the same valley, about half a mile lower down, and on the opposite side of the valley, at a much later hour, is also given in the Appendix (21). This light was somewhat similar to one seen in North Wales, of which the account is given in (18),—a column of fire about two feet wide and several feet high, of the tint of a fiery vapour.
From the same locality two other accounts (22) have been sent to me of lights seen about the same time by two women.
Now here are four narratives from the Rhondda fach, but of the six persons who witnessed the lights four are known to be North Walians, like Mrs. Jones herself, and I think this fact tends to support my theory that persons of the same race or tribe have similar modes of mental action. The cases of collective hallucinations quoted, so far as they are genuine, have a strong family likeness, and as the seers are all in sympathy with Mrs. Jones, probably her mind is the originating cause of the appearances. In my correspondence with these light-seers I have made a point of asking whether they had any of them ever seen a corpse light (canwyll gorph). Not one of them had done so, some of the witnesses had not even heard of such a thing. The persons who see the corpse light are, I believe, not from a North Wales, but from Cardiganshire, and possibly are Iberian in race. Professor Barrett has traced the dowsing faculty to Somersetshire, and if the various forms of lights seen in Wales could be properly classified we should no doubt find that as the race-origin so the light-form.
I also suggest a connection between the naturally-caused lights which have appeared frequently along the coast of Tremadoc Bay, from Pwllheli round to Barmouth, and the forms of the subjective appearances which have been described. The traditional, collective memory of the objective lights may act as a guide to the imagination, providing it with materials for picture formation when it is stimulated by a sufficiently exciting cause. Mental imagery can only employ stored-up impressions; however incongruous the various elements, they all may be drawn upon when occasion serves, and the lights of Dryffryn are sufficiently common and familiar to become the mnemonic material of religiously excited minds. Mrs. Jones’ obiter dictum, “lamp flashing and going out and injuring nothing at all,” reads like a reflection of the sub-conscious memory upon the lights of 1694, which did injure material objects. Of those lights and their effects Mrs. Jones had most probably read or heard.
The motor car association would not suggest injury, because whatever mischief motor cars may do, their brilliant lamps are not the causes of the mischief.
There was a rumour of trickery in the Rhondda fach: some said that young men had got on to the flat roof of a house,—the only flat roof of a dwelling house that commands a view of the chapel, Libanus—and caused a light to be projected from it on to the chapel roof or over it. I went to the house and the proprietor told me that he had gone on to the flat roof to watch for the lights. He had a small lantern for guidance, as the roof is dangerous, having no parapet, but it would not be possible with so small a lamp to throw a beam of light or create a disc such as the doctor and his wife saw. The spot where the doctor stood, the flat roof, and the chapel form a triangle with the chapel at the apex. Three other instances of lights seen are given in the Appendix (23), (24), (25).
By way of assisting towards a solution of this matter of the lights, I have added (26) to the letters from Wales a communication from a friend who saw at a séance held by eight persons, in a totally dark room, some years ago, five little lights slowly gyrating near the ceiling of the room. The hypothesis of fraud in this case he dismisses with contempt. If we can gather accounts of any considerable number of similar instances in experiments or séances where the mediums may be trusted, we may arrive at the causes of Mrs. Jones’s light manifestations.
I have taken care to ask in which cases the lights seem illuminated surrounding objects, and whether persons not distinctly religious saw them. The answers prove that illumination of walls, buildings, and hedges took place in some instances, and if so we may dismiss these at once as purely physical, not psychical. I believe a genuine psychical light has no power of itself to illuminate distinctly any external objects. A room may appear to be flooded with light, but I do not find that the furniture is made more apparent. (Footnote: This question is discussed in the “Report on the Census of Hallucination,” Proceedings, Vol. X., pp. 81-82 - Editor.)
A complete review of the whole subject of the Revival at this point is not desirable, even if it were possible. We need far more inquiry, more examination of more witnesses, time for comparison, also, of the various phenomena with themselves and with other events in former days. But I hope enough has been said to encourage some of our members to study these spiritual movements without prejudice of any kind, and with the certainty that no time is lost which man can devote to the separation of truth from deception, the deliverance of reason from passion, and the clearance of faith from superstition.
A few weeks after the above paper was written I heard of the appearance
of “lights” at Ynysybwl, a small colliery town a few miles
north of Pontypridd, Glam., and on August 2nd, 1905, I visited the town
to interview some of the percipients. Mrs. Jones of Egryn preached at
Ynysybwl on July 4th, 5th and 6th, but there is no trustworthy evidence
of lights being seen before July 23rd. On that evening several persons
went to Ynysyboeth to hear Mrs. Jones once more and by all accounts
they were very much affected by the service. On their return to Ynysybwl
they held an open-air meeting, at about 10.30 p.m., in the open space
known as Robert Town Square. The religious fervour was intense and the
service lasted until 1 a.m. One correspondent (see 27a) reports that
his attention was called, during the service, to a “ball of light
about the size of the moon,” with a slight mist over it. Then
stars began to shoot out around it, the light rose higher and grew brighter
Another at the same gathering describes the light as a “block of fire” rising from the mountain side and moving along for about 200 or 300 yards. It went upwards, a star “shot out to meet it, and they clapped together and formed into a ball of fire.” The form changed into something like the helm of a ship. The appearance lasted about a quarter of an hour. This deponent went home to fetch his wife to see the light, but from his house he saw nothing, although the house faces the same mountain side. Returning to the square he again saw it (see 27b), A third witness says that the light was a ball of fire, “glittering and sparkling,” and it seemed to be “bubbling over” (27c). A Mrs. J. and her daughters saw the light at 12.30 a.m. as a ball of fire, white, silvery, vibrating, stationary. Mrs. J. also saw two streamers of grey mist emanating from the ball and in the space between them a number of stars (27d). The daughter saw nothing of the stars, but remarks, as no one else does, that the form became oval instead of round (27c). In conversation they told me also that the ball decreased in size. Another witness, whose account has not been written, described his vision to me as a ball of fire with 4 or 5 pillars of light on the left of the ball, the intervening space containing no stars. He was standing near the last-named witnesses. It will be sufficient here to point out that whilst all the witnesses saw a ball of fire, each saw something in connection therewith not mentioned by the others. All agree in thinking that the duration of the light was from 10 to 15 minutes, but whether vision ‘‘minutes” are of the same duration as those of solar time remains to be proved. There is no evidence that any one consulted a watch, or clock to mark the time that really elapsed.
On July 26th, at a meeting of the Salvation Army, in the same square, Mr. D. D. tells me that he saw over a wood on the mountainside a black cloud from, which emerged first a white light, then a yellow, and finally a brilliantly red triangle. The vision lasted about 2 minutes (? vision time). Standing on the spot whence D. D. saw the succession of lights, I noticed that on the hoarding which fences the sidewalk there were four very prominent posters well within the circle of vision as one looked towards the wood over which the light appeared. The posters, read from left to right, as a book is read, gave exactly the sequence of colours as described. The accompanying view (plate 11.) is marked so as to show the order. But for the lateness of the hour, 10.30 p.m., we might attribute the appearances to a transfer of visual impressions from the hoarding to the sky. In that case, however, the colours seen would have been the complementaries of those actually witnessed. The conclusion is that the colour sequence was mnemonic, the imagination using colour and form materials absorbed during daylight. The triangular form of the third light was a reminiscence either of the upper part of the red poster or of the “Bass” advertisement on the further right. The photograph was taken close to the spot where D. D. stood. The suggestion of unconscious utilisation of stored impressions will not be thought unreasonable by those who have examined many vision “cases.’ (Footnote: Cf. cases of “memory images” given in Mr. Myer’s paper on “The Subliminal Consciousness” in Proceedings, Vol. VIII., pp. 450-454; also in Vol., XI., pp. 359-61) I have ascertained that the posters in question were all in situ on or before July 23rd.
In the same town on July 30th at midnight a Mrs. O., whom I have seen, called the attention of my friend, Mr. J. R. J., who lives next door to her, to a ball of fire or torch which she saw travelling over the hill side to the north of Ynysybwl, rather more than a mile, as the crow flies, from her house. Three relatives of Mrs. O., with her and Mr. J. R J., watched the light moving about in a zigzag from the top of the hills to the valley below, across fields and hedges, for about 20 minutes. The night was dark; the light went out at intervals and reappeared. It does not appear possible that any person could have borne a powerful lamp over the area pointed out to me, or have moved front point to point so rapidly as the light travelled, the apparent rate being six miles an hour. There is no evidence discoverable of bodies of ignited gases having been seen in the locality previously, and one of the witnesses was not in the least affected by the Revival efforts of Mrs. Jones. There is no solution of this incident at present. It may have been, as the Robert Town Square appearance was, a case of collective hallucination, but there was no immediate mental excitement at work as on the night of the 23rd. Careful examination of the appended letters can hardly fail to strengthen the idea of collective hallucination modified or tempered by individual idiosyncrasies, the originating mind being Mrs. Jones’s, in the case of the Robert Town vision. I have taken care not to report other reputed light visions of which the testimony is not considered, locally, to be worth very much, and it may be well to note that, according to trustworthy information, I understand that the ministers of some of the chapels are exercising praiseworthy caution in accepting the reports of visions. Their attitude is wholesomely sceptical.
Visiting the Garw Valley, on the western side of Mid-Glamorgan, a few days ago, I interviewed a tradesman who also saw a light or lights after Mrs. Jones’s visit to that valley. But his written account has not yet come to hand.
Several correspondents have expressed a desire for some satisfactory
explanation of the lights seen in Glamorganshire and elsewhere, but,
until many more authentic cases of the kind are collected and compared,
their wish must remain unsatisfied. The lights seen in July were, I
believe, not any of them due to extraneous physical causes. If they
are called subjective, the term must be held only to be equivalent to
an operation within the physical limits of the percipients, and the
lights must be considered in relation to the sounds and changes of bodily
temperature experienced by several persons elsewhere, as related in
this paper and Appendix. In the ascending scale of vibrations the order
is sound, heat, and light waves. Is it probable that persons affected
by such stimuli as the Revival provided heard, felt, or saw according
(1) to the intensity of the stimulus in each case, and (2) to the susceptibility
of the percipient? If one man’s mental organs were excited to
a certain degree, he would hear a voice; if to a higher degree, he would
experience a vision; either operation, however, being entirely within
the brain of the subject. I advance the theory of physical vibratory
operation with considerable hesitation, and only because I am not satisfied
with the proposal to attribute the occurrences either to diseased imagination
(if by that term is meant a species of self-deception) or to some mental
operation apart or distinct from the organism by which the mind works.
If a sharp blow upon a certain portion of the head causes a man to “see
stars,” may it not be possible for a mental stimulus from without
to act in a similar way? When it is known how mind can affect mind at
a distance it will be possible, perhaps, to explain the operation within
a man’s self which interprets stimuli now as sound, now as heat,
or again in vision. My chief concern here is to ask that the three kinds
of experiences may be examined in correlation and all of them with due
regard to the ascertained laws of vibration and anodes of energy. The
theory may he put thus:
A. Agent, exercising influence and suggesting form.
B. Recipient of mental stimulus whose brain translates the message into sound, heat, or light form according to its own capacity of motion.
In this inquiry the physical and the psychical cannot safely be dissevered,
however necessary it may be to specialise for the sake of adequate research.