Read about some of the scariest tales from across our pubs, inns and hotels in this special guide for Halloween.
Pubs in the south
BEAR HOTEL, HAVANT
Among the three ghosts that have been spotted at the Bear Hotel, is a lady in Room 22. She was a housekeeper that died around 150 years ago in the very same room and can often be seen sitting at the end of the bed or heard walking the corridor and jangling her keys.
THE CHEQUERS, BROMLEY
The Chequers is said to be haunted by at least three ghosts and is one of the most haunted pubs in the UK.
The notorious Highwayman, Dick Turpin, is the Chequers’ most famous ghost and has been seen on many occasions late at night by both staff and customers. The other ghosts include a French soldier or policeman who by goes by the name of Barnard. It is said that he was brutally knifed to death as he awoke to find people in the middle of a robbery. A lady in stilettoes also haunts the building, slamming doors as she moves.
Some visitors to the pub have had some frightful experiences. One was knocked to the floor and forced to crawl out through the door in order to escape; a member of staff staying the night felt her door unlock by itself, followed by the sound of someone whispering “who are you?”
There is also a young boy who lives at the Chequers, although not much is known of his past. He likes to show himself to other children, who tell their parents about playing with the little boy upstairs.
DRUIDS HEAD, BRIGHTON
Over 500 years old, the building was a private house before it became pub in 1830. There are reputed to be four ghosts here, one of a man who died in one of the nearby tunnels, the others are two children and a woman. There has been poltergeist activity with bottles and glasses flying around and mirrors suddenly misting over. Numerous times, particularly on Sundays, staff members have seen a woman in red waiting to be served and they have spoken to her. However, the woman merely gives a quick glance, with disappears.
GREEN POSTS, PORTSMOUTH
The Green Posts is said to contain the ghost of a man named George who used to live at the pub with his wife Vicky. There have been typical stories about a ghost living in the cellar, with one tale claiming that the cellar ceiling collapsed when somebody tried to do some work down there.
Christian, the current manager, however has a rather different story. Around 18 months ago, the intruder alarm went off in the middle of the night and Christian went downstairs to investigate. After checking the pub and ensuring that it was fully secure he went back to sleep. The following morning, Christian decided to check the CCTV footage from the night before and witnessed a baby-blue balloon walking itself around the bar at 6am. The balloon even seemed to move up a step, as if the person carrying it was climbing the stairs. The balloon changed direction and was seen moving around a pillar three times in a row. It headed to the bar, before sinking to the ground behind a chair where it cannot be seen on the CCTV footage. The whole event lasted around 15 seconds.
In the morning, the cleaners moved the chair the balloon was hiding behind, yet there was no balloon. This is the only time anything of this kind has been witnessed in the pub, but the manager has said that the intruder alarm goes off frequently - perhaps the balloon and its owner are fond of night-time walks...
NAGS HEAD, WELLING
The Nags Head is haunted by the ghost of a lady named Janet, who had previously worked at the pub for twenty-five years. Janet does her best to scare the staff, as the chefs claim to have seen the outline of a person in kitchen attire walking through a wall on several occasions, and always in the same place.
One spooky tale claims to have witnessed the opening of a heavy metal lock on the door leading into the cellar, followed by the door gradually opening - yet no-one was to be seen. Just before this happened, a mysterious shadow was seen nearby, so it is believed that the Nags Head ghost may have been making her way down to the cellar.
Janet is not familiar with the new layout of the pub and likes to walk through walls at the point where previous doorways would have been found. It seems that she also likes to play tricks on the staff, with the manager saying that after their weekly clean of display shelves, the wine bottles are always twisted around or moved out of place. The pet dog of one of the staff is also reported to bark at that area of the bar regularly.
RED LION, AVEBURY
Regularly in the top ten of Britain’s most haunted pubs, the Red Lion is unique in that it is the only pub in Britain to be surrounded by a stone circle. Originally a farmhouse dating back to the early 17th century and turned into a coaching house, this pub has been voted as one of the top ten most haunted pubs in the world.
There are said to be at least five ghosts at the Red Lion, with the most famous being a girl named Florrie who was killed by her husband after he discovered her unfaithfulness. She can be found by a well inside the pub and it is thought that she is responsible for throwing small items across the bar.
Some other ghosts seen include two children and a woman, possibly related, as well as a ghostly horse and carriage that pulls up outside the pub.
THE SHIP, EXETER
The Ship Inn was a favourite of Sir Francis Drake, famous for defeating the Spanish Armada. Unsurprisingly, there are several spooky tales attached to this historic pub.
A man in Elizabethan costume has been seen lurking in the pub’s corners, along with the ghost of a lady in a dark dress and an Elizabethan. Late at night the manager has heard loud noises and crashing coming from the restaurant - then, upon investigation he has found tables and chairs overturned and cutlery strewn across the floor. A number of customers have seen a lady in old-fashioned clothing climbing the stairs.
In the Victorian period the landlord of the Ship Inn had a disabled son, who lived most of his life in the attic. Today, none of the staff like going into the attic and a very creepy atmosphere has been reported. A barman once reported hearing cackling and whimpering up there as if someone was trying to speak, but couldn’t. He was then grabbed by unseen hands and pushed, almost falling down the stairs.
The previous manager had been woken up several times during the night to see a little girl, Polly, in a long dress at the foot of the bed. He has also seen her playing in the corridor outside his room before disappearing through the wall. In 2009 a barman was stacking boxes there when he noticed the little girl sitting on the stairs.
Finally, a very tall ghost in a cloak, named Peters, has been seen in various parts of the building and was the owner of the pub in the mid-Victorian era. Peters’ ghost carries a large ring of keys and is often heard rattling them before he is seen. With this many ghosts, the Ship is a unique place to visit –listen out for some rattling in case Peter is close by!
YE OLDE SWAN TAVERN, MILTON KEYNES
Dick Turpin the infamous highwayman is believed to have stayed here and a large stone outside the building, named Turpin’s Stone, is said to have been used by him to mount his horse quickly when fleeing the tavern. In fact the local village green itself is plagued by a phantom highwayman reported to be Turpin, mounted on a dark horse and wearing a cloak over a fancy waistcoat. The stone has a curse, and folklore tells that if it is removed bad things will befall the mover. In fact this was tested by a sceptical customer who was then involved in a car accident.
YE OLDE TALBOT, WORCESTER
Ye Olde Talbot began as a 13th Century coaching inn, still retaining some of its original character.
Occupants of Room 11 at the Ye Old Talbot have reported being haunted by a ghostly spirit. This spook however might not quite have the same impact as say a headless horseman... it's the spirit of a cat that is said to stop by from time to time.
Pubs in the east and London
THE BELL INN, THETFORD
Thought to be one of the most haunted places in the UK, the Bell is so renowned for its ghosts that the hotel regularly hosts ghost tours. One spirit is thought to be Elizabeth Radcliffe, a landlady who was murdered in the 19th century when she was pushed out of the window of Room 10, a room which enjoys its fair share of ghostly goings on. The hotel is popular with paranormal investigators given the substantial amount of supernatural activity and many sightings have also been reported from Room 11. Staff have heard children playing in empty rooms, rattling keys in the night and seen the ghost of a hooded monk.
A hooded Monk was last witnessed in 2002 by a cleaner in the Priory Bar. Records show that the Bell was owned by the College of the Virgin Mary in 1493 and it is thought that the Monk may have been associated with the nearby ruined Priory.
BULL HOTEL, LONG MELFORD
The 15th century hotel is said to be home to the ghost of Richard Everard, who was stabbed in 1648 during the English Civil War, loyally defending King Charles the First. The story goes that Richard was stabbed during a heated argument and his body disappeared when people close by left to find help. Now haunting room 4 in the hotel, Richard has been blamed for making mysterious noises, moving furniture and opening and closing doors - but the hotel suspects other poltergeists are at play too.
DOG & PARTRIDGE, BURY ST EDMUNDS
There have been some rumours of a haunting at the Dog & Partridge, with this rumoured ghost believed to be John Reev, the last abbot of Bury St Edmunds. A resident living opposite the pub claims to have seen a man in ecclesiastical robes close by. The staff believe however that perhaps John prefers to haunt the nearby ruins of the old abbey…
A window above the beer garden at the Eagle in Cambridge is permanently fixed open, and it is written in the lease that the window must remain so. Why? Around three hundred years ago, three children were unable to escape from the building during a fire and continue to haunt the pub today. The open window allows these young ghosts to leave the pub as they wish and it is reported that strange things have happened in the past when the window was shut. One account has said that should anyone dare to try and close the window, everybody inside the pub will experience a powerful feeling of suffocation.
The George stands on foundations that date back to the 17th century and is home to a ghost who can usually be found down in the cellar. One report describes him as smiling and dressed as a Cavalier. Others suggest that the Cavalier is headless. The ghost, headless or not, has been seen by customers as well as some builders in the 1970s. He seems to be a relatively harmless ghost, so not a worry for those who decide to venture into the cellar.
GOLDEN LION, ROMFORD
The Golden Lion is on the site of Britain’s oldest operating public house. At the end of the century the church brought it to replace with a coaching tavern for pilgrims and travelers and in 1402 the Lyon – as it was then known – first opened its doors. There are about 23 ghosts that have manifested themselves including a female ghost named ‘the white lady’. She was murdered in nearby Harold Hill in the 1890s who celebrated her wedding reception in the pub. Several people have seen her over the years and a psychic recently claimed she could feel her presence and said she’s here in a picture, and sure enough a photograph was found of the ghost lady standing in the nearby market place
“Never has an exorcism been required. The Golden Lion ghosts are nice ghosts”, said a local historian.
THE GRENADIER, BELGRAVE SQUARE, LONDON
Said to be one of the top ten spookiest pubs in London. The story begins in the eighteenth century with a young grenadier who was caught cheating at a game of cards. After being caught, his comrades savagely beat him to death as a punishment. A solemn, silent phantom – dubbed Cedric the ghost – has been witnessed crawling slowly across the ceilings of the pub, objects are said to disappear or move without explanation. Footsteps have been heard pacing anxiously around empty rooms, and every so often a low sighing moan has been heard coming from the depths of the cellar. For the past 100 years, visitors have attempted to pay off Cedric’s debt by attaching money to the ceiling in the hope his soul may rest in peace.
THE NUTSHELL, BURY ST EDMUNDS
Seen only once, the ghost of a young boy is reputed to live upstairs in Britain’s smallest pub. A customer went upstairs in 1975 to see the boy sitting alone in the room before quickly disappearing. The young child is thought to have died under mysterious circumstances in the Nutshell, but no one is really sure where he comes from.
It doesn’t sound like the boy is a very happy ghost, with stories of ‘cold shivers’ and the shattering of glasses. Shirley Baker, a previous manageress, said that once 'I suddenly felt someone pull me backwards violently. But when I looked round there was no one there.'
PUNCH HOUSE, WARE
The Punch House is home to three spirits. A young girl can be found on the accommodation floors; she is not harmful, but she lets her presence be known to those who are there. The current manager, Lindsay, has seen the young girl personally, and customers have said that the previous managers of the Punch House have all spoken about the 'little girl' being upstairs.
There are also tales of a taller person who can be seen standing in doorways. As well as this, a ghostly man has been seen standing in the manager's office. The assistant manager, when staying overnight, has experienced her bedroom door opening and closing continually for 15 minutes - each time, the door only opened about 4inches before closing again.
Lindsay has spoken about the banging of doors, hearing someone on the stairs and how her dogs react to something that she cannot see and guard the bed at night. She said: “I have looked through many websites to see if anybody has stories or accountabilities for all this, but nothing. There are just lots of stories from the staff, ex-staff and some long time regulars that have seen managers come and go with the same stories.”
The Swan in Brentwood is home to the ghost of William Hunter, who was famously the last person to be executed in Essex, aged nineteen, for his protestant beliefs during the reign of Mary Tudor. Hunter was held in the cellar of the Inn the night before his death and it appears that he is still there today.
Some say Hunter is a bit of a poltergeist making spooky noises in the cellar, moving furniture and throwing plates around, but whether they are local stories gone wild, or not, is difficult to tell. The pub itself has invited some mediums to investigate the building, who concluded there may be up to three ghosts in the Swan as well as William Hunter.
WHITE HART, COGGESHALL
Dating back to the 15th Century, the White Hart has retained many of its original features. The building today consists of several historic buildings, including one built for a wealthy wool merchant in the 16th Century. By the late 17th Century the building was an inn, providing a place of rest for those travelling to London and around the region.
The White Hart is home to the ghosts of two children that were thought to have died in a fire. The hotel often attracts paranormal experts on the hunt for other ghostly goings on.
YE OLD COCK TAVERN, FLEET STREET, LONDON
Ye Olde Cock Tavern dates back to 1549, and lays claim to the narrowest frontage of any pub in London. It is also said to be home to a terrifying ghost. In 1984, the ‘Goldsmith’s ghost’ appeared in the pub in front of customers causing a small panic and a woman working at the pub also encountered a smiling disembodied head at the rear of the building. Her scream was so loud it is said to have been heard throughout the pub. The woman later identified the head from a painting as belonging to the writer Oliver Goldsmith, who is buried outside the pub.
Pubs in the Midlands
THE CRABMILL, STOURBRIDGE
This village pub was historically a doctor’s surgery and it is believed that one doctor committed suicide in the building – and never left. An elderly man has been seen on several occasions in the Crabmill, wearing a black suit and a top hat.
The current manager, Caroline, has also spoken of a ghost of a young lady wearing a long white dress. She said: “She has been seen down in the cellar, so people have said that she likes a drop of ale!”
LADY BAY, WEST BRIDGFORD
The Lady Bay had a particularly troublesome time with a ghost in the 1970s and 1980s. A ghostly figure of a man in a dark cloak was occasionally seen in the pub car park, and it was reported that the flickering lights inside were due to an invisible presence. It seems, however, that the man in the cloak may have found somewhere else to haunt now, as the current managers have not experienced anything ghostly in the twelve years they have lived there!
RIVERSIDE FARM PUB, NOTTINGHAM
This building seems to be the subject of some ghostly goings-on. The building itself is situated on the site of an old manor house, dating back over a hundred years, and has had several functions since.
A seemingly harmless ghost, thought to be a young woman, has been seen in the play area and simply walks from one side to the other. In the same area, some very localised cold orbs move to and fro.
Similar tales have been told about the upstairs of the pub and the smell of freshly caught fish is often experienced, moving from room to room before disappearing. Doors have opened by themselves within the accommodation, and children’s voices have even been heard in the changing rooms.
Manager Patrick Hart said “No one else believes our stories but they keep us amused and watching over our shoulders!"
SUN INN, EASTWOOD
This old building contains many old garages and outhouses which are reported to be very spooky. There is a tunnel in the Sun Inn, blocked off in the cellar, which is believed by staff to lead to the church opposite the pub.
It is known that a resident hung themselves in one of the rooms many years ago. The pub has regularly had psychic mediums visit the building and a ghostly presence has always been detected. The chambermaids are said to frequently report that items move around in room 9. Shadows have passed over their heads; guests’ feet have been tickled during the night and some have said that they have heard whispering in their ears.
YE OLDE TRIP TO JERUSALEM, NOTTINGHAM
The Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem claims to be Britain’s oldest pub.
The pub is home to an apparently harmless ghost named 'Yorkey', a previous landlord who had said that he never wanted to leave the inn. He has been spotted by members of staff over the years in either his favourite place by the fire, or in the cellar. Manager Karl said: “He loves to play tricks on the staff and has fun by moving things around just to confuse us.” Staff members also hear moans, groans and noises, when in the cellar, a former gaol.
Legend has it that a nameless cursed galleon may have been presented to the inn by a parting sailor and it is possessed of a hideous curse. It is reputed that the last three people who dared to try and clean it, died very mysterious and unexpected deaths. Today the cursed galleon is safely housed in a glass presentation case, where the manager says it is shrouded in years’ worth of undisturbed dust and cobwebs but safe from any would-be cleaners.
Pubs in the north and Scotland
The Bridgewater dates back to 1903, and has regularly experienced ghostly goings on such as books unexpectedly flying off shelves and pictures falling from the walls. Chris, the manager, became so aware of the low groans coming from the empty pub that he recently brought in a team of mediums to analyse the strange surroundings.
The ghost hunters reported a family living in the pub from Victorian times and experienced a strong presence of their small child who fell down the stairs and died.
GEORGE & DRAGON, CHESTER
The George & Dragon is home to three ghosts and over the years there have been many supposed sightings and strange happenings in the hotel, with claims of roaming Roman Centurions (who originally built Chester), misbehaving monks and all manner of poltergeist palaver! The pub stands above an old Roman road, leading out from what would have been a fortress. Over many years, people have reported the sound of men marching under the pub – they are thought to be walking along the old Roman road.
A Roman solider is believed to roam around the hotel rooms and there are stories of guests waking up to find Roman soldiers stood at the end of their bed. The ghost of a monk can be found down in the cellar, with stories saying that he was tortured and murdered by the Roman soldiers in the tunnels that run beneath the pub. The manager, Becky, also reported that the pub is haunted by a young girl who is said to have pushed her mother down the stairs and now wanders around the pub full of remorse.
Screaming, crying and whistling have all been heard in the cellar of the George & Dragon, lamp shades move and things in the pub have been moved mysteriously. Becky said: “In the managers accommodation I have had somebody whispering in my ear whilst trying to sleep, doors opening and closing and all sorts of strange things."
LENDAL CELLARS, YORK
Lendal Cellars is located in the heart of the historic city of York. The site of the pub used to be the location of a Friary during the medieval era, where around 35 Austin Friars lived. The Friary was destroyed by Henry VIII during the Reformation. Some say however, that one friar never left…Guests claim to have seen monastic figures in the lower seating area of the pub. Yet, when they have turned their head to look again, the figures have vanished.
MASONS ARMS, WICKERSLEY
The Masons Arms is home to the ghost of a lady named Amelia, who lives in the cellar between the wine and the Sambuca – she seems to like a tipple or two!
Cleaners in the pub have also reported sightings of a male ghost who seems to be looking for someone…is it Amelia? Not much is known about him, but he doesn’t seem to cause much trouble for the managers. There have been stories of the freezer door slamming randomly, feelings of being pulled backwards and glasses flying off the shelves. It is not known who is responsible for this activity, but it certainly seems like there is a ghost up to no good!
MOUNT, ORRELL, WIGAN
The Mount holds regular ghost walks and hosts psychic groups. Customers and staff alike have all reported that a little girl lives in the pub, with one account claiming that she likes to play hide-and-seek with those using the meeting rooms. Members of staff at the pub have also spoken about the ghost of a barrow boy named Charlie, who will barge into you if you are in his path.
Chris, the manager, reported that after placing some high frequency recording equipment in one room that apparently saw a nasty death, they picked up a crying noise pleading for help.
Parts of the cellar of this haunted building previously served as a mortuary and the hotel attached to the pub was built on top of an old graveyard.
ROYAL OAK, CHORLTON
Dating back to around 1860, the Royal Oak has its fair share of ghosts. One ghost lets his presence be felt in the cellar, breathing down the neck of those who go down there, with one manager reporting that a stone was thrown at him. A spiritualist who visited the pub claimed that a football team from the 19th century could be felt in the cellar, along with a previous landlord named Sid.
The Royal Oak’s function room is another centre of ghostly happenings. The same spiritualist spoke of Victorian tea dances occurring in the room. The common sighting of a black shadow moving around the pub is the scariest part for Christine, the manager. Christine has reported seeing the shadow move up stairs, travelling through walls and even wandering around the bar.
There are a couple of theories as to who these ghosts may be, but no one is completely certain. One paranormal group believe that three men who often visited the pub and met tragic ends in the early 1800s may never have left…
SCOTIA BAR, GLASGOW
Established in 1792, the Scotia is Glasgow’s oldest pub and reportedly has several ghosts that live inside the building. An alleged 20th century prostitute, named Annie, lives in the Scotia. During an investigation at the pub, Annie communicated with a Scottish group named Spirit Finders. She ‘answered’ questions by moving a glass placed on a table, and made the phone ring when the Spirit Finders asked her to prove her presence.
The manager of the Belhaven pub has also reported a young child who runs in and out of a door, a lady in a white wimple who sits in the snug and a lady in a green velvet dress who parades up and down the pub. These ghosts have been subject to several paranormal investigations, and have only been made visible to mediums.
Manager Mary Rafferty said, “There have been phones ringing, temperatures dropping and all sorts of strange goings on.”
WINDMILL INN, YORK
General managers of the pub – past and present – have reported sightings of two ghosts, a man in a ball and chain who makes little commotion in the cellar and a little girl who lives in the upstairs of The Windmill Inn. The pub was previously a coach and horse station and the little girl seemingly died in a coach crash there during the late 1800s. Staff often feel her presence and have been told by previous general managers that if she becomes too bothersome to open a window and let her leave.
YE OLDE STARRE INNE, YORK
Ye Olde Starre Inne is the oldest and best loved pubs in York, dating back to at least 1644. The pub is also one of the best known in the country due to its many ghostly goings on, such as lights turning on, chairs moving by themselves, and strange noises that keep the landlord awake at night. During the English Civil War, the cellar was commandeered by Royalist troops to serve as a makeshift hospital and morgue for the wounded, dying soldiers. It is from this cellar that the bloodcurdling screams of dying soldiers can still be heard echoing throughout the pub.
Three hundred years later a soldier about to be sent to the trenches during World War I, wrote to his sweetheart, promising to meet her at Ye Olde Starre Inne on his first night home; although she waited, he never came. The two star-crossed lovers have both been seen roaming the bar, looking for one another for eternity.
Additionally, two black cats are often seen running from room to room playing. The cats date back to when the custom was to entomb two live cats inside a building to protect it from fire and bad luck. Dogs visiting the pub growl and snarl at the spot the cats were walled in, with one dog even throwing itself at the spot and knocking itself out! Many visitors have been seen to bend to stroke one of the cats only to find nothing there.