A Baboon at Maesllwch Castle

As with much of Francis Kilvert’s edited diary, the following lacks context, so it is hard to make much sense of it beyond confirming the eccentric behaviour of wealthy British people. The keeping of wild and often dangerous animals was legal here until an act was passed in the 1960s and I once met a man whose relatives kept a zoo near Newport in Wales, where animals roamed free and often helped themselves to food in the kitchen, especially the honey bears.

Kilvert writes in August 1872:

The stories bout the baboon … grow more and more extraordinary. It is said that when visitors come toe the Castle the creature descends upon their heads, clambering down the balusters of the staircase. He put [friends of Kilvert] to flight, routed them horse and foot so that they clapped spurs to their horses and galloped away in mortal fear, the baboon racing after them. He carries the cats up to the top of the highest Castle Tower, and drops them over into space, and it is believed that the baboon seeks an opportunity to carry the young heir up to the top of the Tower and serve him in the same way.

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