Ghostly apparitions at the South West’s most haunted watering holesWednesday, 31 October, 2018
Bath Spa University’s resident 'spooksperson', William Hughes, Professor of Gothic Literature and author of 17 books, reveals his list of the top ten most haunted pubs across the South West. Read on - if you dare!
The Ram Inn, Wotton under Edge
Known as one of the most haunted buildings in the country, The Ram Inn was built in 1145 as a keeping house for slaves and workers who helped construct St. Mary’s Church, which once owned the property. This run-down public house has been the subject of many investigations by paranormal researchers, all trying to get under the skin of the many reported sightings, disturbing findings and ghostly apparitions. It is said that a witch was burned at the stake here in the 1500s and her spirit still haunts one of the rooms of the house where she took refuge before she was captured and killed, now known as ‘The Witch’s Room’.
The Red Lion, Avebury
The Red Lion is unique in that it is the only public house in the world that resides inside a stone circle. As well as attracting tourists from all over the world, the inn has its very own ghost to contend with. Legend has it that during the Civil War, a woman called Florrie and her soldier husband lived there. When he was called away to war, Florrie took a lover in her husband’s absence. One night, her husband returned unexpectedly and, discovering his wife’s infidelity, shot her in a fit of rage and threw her down the Inn’s well before sealing it with a huge boulder. Her ghost has haunted the building since then.
Garrick's Head, Bath
Garrick’s Head, situated near the Theatre Royal in Bath, is said to be haunted by a shadowy figure that lurks by the entrance, known as the Grey Lady. Legend says that many years ago, the lady fell in love with an actor who her husband, out of pure jealousy and rage, then killed in a duel. Upon her lover’s death, it is thought she hanged herself or jumped from a high window to her death. The Grey Lady is now frequently seen when the temperature drops unexpectedly, followed by the faint smell of jasmine. Mysterious knocks have been reported, whilst those who have seen her say she wears an 18th Century evening dress with feathers in her hair.
Francis Hotel, Bath
This Grade I-listed hotel is situated in the heart of Bath, on the historic Queen Square. It is said to be haunted by a former housekeeper who, in a state of persistent depression, hanged herself in 1858. Guests that have stayed in the hotel reported spending a restless night after scratching and tapping from inside their room kept them awake, and a hot water bottle was swept off the table…
George and Pilgrims Inn, Glastonbury
In a town known for ghosts and the supernatural - and dubbed the occult capital of England - The George and Pilgrims is thought to be one of the most haunted pubs in the area. Recently, a photo taken by one of the pub’s patrons showed a shadowy figure of a woman in the background that didn’t appear in any pictures before or after. It is believed the woman fell in love with one of Glastonbury Abbey’s monks many years ago. At the time, a tunnel ran from the Inn to the Abbey and legend says the two lovers used this tunnel to consummate their affair. When they were found out, the monk, having betrayed his vows, was walled up in the cellar and left to die.
Jamaica Inn, Bodmin Moor
Featured in the popular TV programme ‘Most Haunted’, Jamaica Inn is one of the spookiest inns in the country. There have been numerous sightings of ghostly spirits over the years, as well as mysterious conversations being uttered in a foreign tongue. On a moonlit night, when all is still, the sound of horses’ hooves and the rims of wheels turning can be heard in the courtyard, yet nothing is ever seen. Many years ago, a stranger was at the bar drinking some ale, when he was summoned outside. That was the last time he was seen alive and the next morning his corpse was found in the moor. It is believed that the dead man’s spirit returns to finish his drink…
The King and Queen, Highworth
The King and Queen Inn, dating all the way back to 1677, is believed to be haunted by the ghost of a hunchback monk who’s been witnessed in the pub as well as walking down the High Street. Legend has it that the 14th century monk broke his vows of chastity and as a punishment was hanged in the courtyard next to the pub. Phantom footsteps have been heard in the attic and along the pub’s medieval corridors.
Holman Clavel Inn, Blagdon
According to local legend, this 600-yearold pub is the home of a hearth spirit known as ‘Chimbley Charlie’ who was once thought to reside in many homes nearby. In one tale, the devil spirit spoils a dinner for a farmer by swiping all the cutlery off the table before the famer arrives. Reporters have also heard an apparition play skittles in the back of the street, but on approaching the noises, nothing is ever seen.
The Bowl Inn, Almondsbury
Named after the bowl shape of the vast land surrounding it, The Bowl Inn is said to be haunted by the ghost of a young French girl, Elizabeth Maronne. Elizabeth and her brother died in the village in the early 18th century and were believed to be abused by their father. The ear-piercing sounds of a girl crying and reciting nursery rhymes have been reported to echo around the pub and the village, much to the shock and surprise of passers-by. Gives you chills just thinking about it…
The Old Church House Inn, Torbryan
This historic ancient inn, dating back to the 13th century, has been the subject of numerous paranormal activities. In one of the bedrooms in the dead of the night, the landlord was woken up by the sound of his baby crying and saw a dark figure of a man leaning over his son’s crib. Thinking he was a burglar, the landlord chased him down the stairs, but when he got to the bottom, the bar was empty and the doors were all locked. This is just one of many ghosts that have appeared at the Inn over the years, sending guests running for dear life.
Bill Hughes, who has lived in the West Country since 1993, has a long-standing interest in ‘true’ regional ghost stories and has spent many years getting under the skin of many of these local legends. In 2009, he was interviewed on Most Haunted Live at St George’s Hall in Liverpool during a ghost-hunting investigation.
He says: “I’ve been interested in hauntings since I was young and have been studying some of the UK’s most spooky sightings ever since. There are so many ghost stories in pubs across the South West I could have mentioned, including the phantom of the Crown Inn in Wiltshire, where guests have felt an unseen presence blow on their necks and twist their ears, but these ten still give me the best chills every time! My love for all things haunted led me into a career studying ghosts and the Gothic, which I’m pleased to be able to share with the next generation of ghost hunters at Bath Spa.”
MA Crime and Gothic Fictions at Bath Spa University
Bath Spa University’s Master’s degree in Crime and Gothic Fictions is the only UK programme to integrate the study of both genres, and is the only course of its kind in the South West. It introduces students to the advanced study of two popular genres that have entertained and informed culture from the nineteenth century to the present day. The Master’s degree also includes a module on regional ghost stories.