Brandy Cove

Brandy Cove, located half a mile west of Caswell Bay, is probably Gower’s most infamous beach and is steeped in history and legend. The small cove gets its name from the days when smuggling was rife on the Gower Peninsula and the sands were used to land illicit cargo of tobacco and alcohol.

Brandy Cove


The beach itself is very small, with sandy stretches only at low tide and offers a good example of an exposed Pleistocene raised beach – evidence that the sea level here was once thirty feet higher than it is today. Known as the Patella Beach, this raised Ipswichian dated beach can be seen in the fault gully of the rock here as a concrete-like mixture of shell and pebble over a more gravel like substance. The site takes its name from the fact that Limpets (Patella) are the more common shell found amongst this deposit.

Brandy Cove

Old Moll

Perhaps less well known than the tales of smuggling more usually associated with Brandy Cove are the two stories of the supernatural connected with the beach. The first concerns a certain old woman who went by the name Old Moll.

Old Moll was said to have made her home in one of Brandy Coves' caves, but spent much of her time wandering through the many small villages and farms on the Gower Peninsula. Old Moll had the reputation of being a witch and of being cursed. Whenever she travelled through a farm, its cattle would fall ill or lame, and villagers who spied her ragged form would soon fall upon some bad luck or dire misfortune. On one occasion Old Moll is said to have heard a small child laughing at her haggard appearance. Thereafter the child was plagued with the cruellest of nightmares.

The people of Gower became so afraid of Old Moll that they made a collection of silver coins and ornaments and took these to a blacksmith to be fired into silver bullets. Arming themselves with these, a gang of vigilantes went out towards Brandy Cove in search of Old Moll - meaning to rid themselves of her evil forever. Discovering her on one of Gower's many commons, they fired at her but Old Moll turned herself into a hare to flee more quickly from her pursuers.

Old Moll managed to escape from the gang but not without taking a shot to her leg. Nonetheless, the villagers had cause for celebration as, no doubt fearful for her life, Old Moll was never again spotted on the peninsula.

Whilst Gower folk rejoiced, however, farmers and villagers in other regions of Glamorgan were less than jubilant, as Old Moll made a new home for herself in their hills and valleys further inland - her bad luck spreading wherever her limping form was spotted.

Mamie Stuart

A later tale of the supernatural connected with Brandy Cove has a chilling link with a real life murder that took place on or near the beach during the winter of 1919. First reported by a couple who were walking along the cliffs above Brandy Cove one evening - stories of a woman's screams which echoed through the caves of the beach soon became common talk amongst the surrounding villages of Pennard, Bishopston and Caswell.

These tales continued, with the locals becoming too afraid to visit the beach after dark, until 1961 when matters came to a sudden head after several youths from Bishopston decided to thoroughly explore the caves of Brandy Cove. It did not take them too long to uncover a horrifying secret. There, hidden behind a wall of boulders in an old lead mine, they discovered the skeletal remains of Mamie Stuart - a young woman who had disappeared from the area more than forty years earlier. Although her murderer was never traced, evidence does strongly suggest that the young chorus girl died at the hands of her jealous bigamist husband George Shotton.

With so many years having passed since her death, there were no soft tissue or body organs present on the skeleton when it was discovered and so no actual cause of death could be ascertained from Mamie's remains.  What was easily discernible, however, was that her body had been inexpertly cut into three large pieces before being walled into the cave. The resulting police investigation immediately brought up George Shotton as the chief, if not only, suspect in the case.

Unfortunately, Shotton was never brought to trial as he died of natural causes in 1958, aged 78 years - just three years before the discovery of Mamie's remains. Despite the fact that justice was never seen to have been done over her murder, no ghostly cries were heard again at Brandy Cove. Sadly Mamie's remains were never buried and were last seen in 2007 in a box in Cardiff University but since then have vanished.

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