The UK’s Most Haunted Pubs

With today being Friday the 13th and Halloween just around the corner, we thought what better time to explore some of the UK’s most haunted pubs! Spurned lovers, duelling brothers, highwayman spooks, and headless Dukes. Here are the horrible histories of some of our favourite ancient inns to get you in the spirit of the season.

 

 Golden Fleece, York

golden fleece

The existence of the Golden Fleece was first documented in city archives in 1503 when it’s cellar was allegedly used to store the unclaimed bodies of hanged convicts. The pub is reportedly home to 5 ghosts including; Lady Alice Peckett – wife of one-time Landlord and York’s Lord Mayor of 1702, and Geoff Monroe – a Canadian airman who fell to his death from Room 4 of the inn in 1945 – did he jump or was he pushed? Either way his spirit has been troubling staff and guests alike ever since. There have been complaints of bed covers being ripped from terrified residents throughout the night and the feeling of invisible hands tightening around the necks of staff members when behind the bar. The Fleece has since earned a reputation of being one of most haunted pubs in the UK – even receiving a visit from Derek Acorah and the ‘Most Haunted’ team in 2005.

 

The Spaniard’s Inn, NorthWest London

spaniards inn

Mentioned by name in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Spaniard’s Inn on the fringes of Hampstead Heath dates back to 1585. The story goes that the name is derived from a pair of early Landlords Francesco & Juan Perero who duelled after falling for the same woman, resulting in the death of the latter. His body was buried in the garden of the pub and customers have reported sightings of him throughout the establishment. In another spooky claim to fame, notorious highwayman, Dick Turpin was also said to have spent many a night here when it was under the management of his father. After his execution in York in 1739 his spirit is said to have returned to The Spaniard’s where he now stalks the roads outside along with his trusty horse Black Bess.

 

Ye Olde Man & Scythe, Bolton

man and scythe

Being one of the oldest pubs in Britain (4th to be exact) automatically ups your level of spooky-ness by a few points – not that this particular pub needs any help. Ye Olde Man & Scythe has been the scene of many bloody encounters including the Bolton Massacre in which hundreds of soldiers & civilians were killed in 1644. Not surprising then that it is reportedly haunted by no less than 25 spirits. One of those being that of the 7th Earl of Derby, James Stanley, who spent his last hours here before being beheaded in 1651 towards the end of the Civil War. If you’re not convinced check out this CCTV footage from 2015 and see what you think.

 

The Red Lion, Avebury, Wiltshire

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Surrounded by a prehistoric stone circle, The Red Lion of Avebury is the only pub of its kind in the world with the building dating back to the early 1600’s. Before becoming a coaching house in 1802, The Red Lion served as a farmhouse with a well, which over time and expansion has come to reside in one of the current day front rooms. In this well supposedly lies the body of the Lion’s resident phantom, Florrie whose husband returned from the Civil War to find her in the arms of another man. After killing them both he dragged her body to the well and threw it into the depths then sealing it with a boulder. Residents and customers have since claimed to have seen her ghost emerge from the well – alarming for anyone sitting at the table which it has since become.

 

The Mermaid Inn, Rye, East Sussex

mermaid inn

Another alumni of TV’s ‘Most Haunted’ The Mermaid Inn was established in the 12th century with the main building being traced back to 1420. The Inn was used by a group of smugglers known as the Hawkhurst Gang during the 18th century, taking advantage of the buildings many secret passages. The wife of one of those smugglers is thought to haunt the rooms upstairs. Known as ‘The Woman in White’, she has been seen walking through walls and appearing at the end of the bed of more than one petrified guest. And it’s not just visitors who are spooked, supposedly one of the rooms – The Kingsmill Suite –  is so haunted that the cleaners will only enter in pairs! You can watch The Mermaid Inn’s appearance on ‘Most Haunted’ here.

 

Jamaica Inn, Launceston, Cornwall

jamaica-inn

 This 900 year old former coaching inn, set in it’s isolated location on the edge of Bodmin Moor, served as the perfect hideout for rum smugglers, ship-wreckers and even murderers during the 18th century. Made famous by the works of Daphne Du Maurier, who visited the inn during her youth, it has been subject of many mysterious tales. One of the most famous is that the of a gentleman who, having left his unfinished pint on the bar, stepped outside and never returned. His body was found nearby the next day but no reason for or suspect in his death was ever found. Years later in the early 1900’s, there were many reports from customers and passers-by of a man sitting on the wall outside The Jamaica Inn. Never moving or responding to greetings, but who looked uncannily like the slain patron. Modern day ghost-hunters are invited to investigate the paranormal activity for themselves with guided tours happening throughout the year.

 

 The Viaduct Tavern, Newgate Street, London

viaduct tavern

The Viaduct Tavern stands as the last example of a traditional Victorian Gin Palace, with ornate decor and original toll booth still intact, this building dates back to 1869. It was once neighbour to Newgate Prison and Courthouse, overlooking the caged walkway known as ‘Dead Man’s Walk’ – for obvious reasons. Some of the condemned souls were reportedly buried under this walkway, which would explain how it has come to gain a reputation for hauntings. Staff have reported experiencing lights cutting out and doors locking themselves – particularly in the cellar where cell like structures can still be seen. Some dispute the validity of the claims that these were used house the overflow of prisoners due to be put to death, but the pub’s proximity to such terrible tales has continued to intrigue visitors throughout the years.

 

Ye Olde King’s Head, Chester

ye olde kings head

With Elizabethan fireplaces reportedly constructed from timber salvaged from the wreckage of one of Lord Admiral Nelson’s sunken ships Ye Olde Kings Head is certainly steeped in history. The Inn has existed since 1622, with foundations which can be traced all the way back to the early 1200’s. During a refurbishment in the 1930’s a sword – now proudly displayed in the bar – was discovered under the floorboards of Room 4, allegedly one of the most haunted rooms in the building. Guests claim to have heard phantom children running up and down the corridors and the figure of a woman standing at the windows. Legend has it that these are the ghosts of a former Landlords family who, upon discovering his wife’s affair, drowned their children in the river as revenge. The distraught wife supposedly took her own life in one of the rooms after learning what her husband had done.

 

The Grenadier, Belgravia, London

grenadier

This Central London favourite has stood in Belgrave Square since 1720 originally serving as an officers mess before becoming a licensed public house known then as The Guardsman. The story goes that the current name comes from a soldier who was killed in a savage beating outside the pub  in 1818 after being caught cheating at a card game. Locals have affectionately named the spirit Cedric  – said to be a friendly occupant who is fond of breaking the odd glass and moving chairs in the bar. The walls and ceiling are covered in foreign currencies left by tourists from all over the world, apparently in an attempt to pay off the young soldier’s debt.

 

The Skirrid Mountain Inn, Abergavenney, Wales

skirrid inn

Glasses flying across the bar and footsteps coming from empty corridors are nothing but the norm for The Skirrid Inn, nestled between the Skirrid & Black Mountains. Claiming to be the oldest inn in Wales, it was apparently once the rallying point of rebel Owain Glyndwr as he led his uprising against King Henry IV in the early 15th century. For many years the first floor of the building was used as a Court of Law where sentences was passed for crimes warranting the death penalty – records suggest that around 180 men and women in total were condemned. Some of the hangings were actually carried out within the stairwell of the inn, where markings can still be seen on the wooden beams from the swinging rope. Unsurprisingly the inn has capitalised on it’s gruesome history and subsequent tales of paranormal activity by offering overnight ghost hunts.

 

Best Restaurant in the World!

Sitting proudly at the very top of a list of places that i can just about pronounce is The Black Swan in Oldstead, North Yorkshire, which has been awarded the title of Best Restaurant in the World by TripAdvisor’s Traveller’s Choice Awards.

Resting on the edge of the North York Moors, the family-owned, Michelin-starred restaurant is the first in the UK to receive the award, beating out competitors including the 2015/16 consecutive champion, Martín Berasategui, in Lasarte, Spain. The pub has been owned since 2006 by farmers Tom & Anne Banks with sons Tommy and James heading up the kitchen and front of house respectively.  The pub first made headlines in 2013 when Tommy was awarded the Michelin Star aged just 24, making him the youngest ever recipient in Britain. Using produce mostly sourced from their own land, The Black Swan offers a tasting menu that includes Turbot with Strawberries and Cream and Cake made from Chicory Root and Blackcurrant.

The algorithm used by TripAdvisor to determine the winners takes into account the quality and quantity of worldwide reviews from customers in the past 12 months. The Black Swan topped all 3 UK, Europe and Worldwide categories with second place going to another British establishment – Raymond Blancs’ Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, in Oxfordshire.

See, who said British food was rubbish?

Worldwide Top 10:

1. The Black Swan, Oldstead, North Yorkshire, UK

2. Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Great Milton, Oxfordshire, UK

3. Maison Lameloise, Chagny, France

4. L’Auberge de l’Ill, Illhaeusern, France

5. Martin Berasategui, Lasarte, Spain

6. Daniel, New York City, United States

7. La Colombe, Constantia, South Africa

8. David’s Kitchen, Chiang Mai, Thailand

9. Maido, Lima, Peru

10. El Celler de Can Roca, Girona, Spain

Looking for something in particular?

If you visit our homepage you will see that we have been making some improvements so now it is even more user-friendly – aka – even easier for you to find pubs and bars in the UK. But not just any pubs and bars, the exact pubs and bars that you need. Looking for somewhere you can take the dog or the kids? Fancy a pub quiz or a game of darts? Well now with just the click of a button you can find the closest venues to you where you can do just that. And as always, this service is available whether you are indoors on a desktop or out and about on your mobile, so no matter what, we’ve got you covered. Go on, give it a go…

 

Use Your Local – Own Your Local!

I recently discovered that Newcastle has its first/only community-owned project in the form of the music venue/bar, The Globe – somewhat late to the party since it opened in 2014. To be honest I didn’t know a great deal about community-owned pubs in general but it turns out they have a mission that is very similar to that of Use Your Local; keeping pubs at the heart of communities.

Beginning when a group of people, usually local residents, take it upon themselves to save an otherwise doomed venue by investing their own money. The number of people required depends on how many it takes to cover the cost of purchasing the pub and probably giving it a bit of a refurb. So, this can be anything from 15 to 500, but regardless of their contribution, they all own an equal stake in the business. This is helpful when it comes to voting on key issues as it ensures that the Democratic State of the Local remains a peaceful one.

Interestingly, not a single co-operative has shut its doors since the first opened theirs in 1982, despite previously being considered a failing/failed business. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Those I have come across so far seem to be thriving under their new regime and have even gone on to win a number of industry accolades from organisations including; CAMRA, Trip Advisor, and The Good Pub Guide – to name a few.

I get the feeling that this success is undoubtedly related to the whole nature of their existence. A quick look through their backstories will tell you that shareholder motives are very rarely about profit or the ability to walk in and demand a free pint. It is invariably about a group of people who do not want to see a very special part of their community disappear and who therefore work hard to save it. It’s a pleasant reminder of the role that pubs can play as the cornerstones of our society when properly utilised rather than just a place to drink.

And it’s working! The Bevy, in Brighton was known as a bit of a troublesome spot when it was closed down, until 2014 when more than 700 shareholders decided to take control. It is now the UK’s first community-owned estate pub, hosting everything from quiz nights to kid’s parties, health check drop-ins to garden shows. Their efforts earned them a nomination for Community Pub of the Year at the John Smith’s Great British Pub Awards 2017. Quite the turnaround.

The good news is, there’s plenty more where that came from. As of September 2017, there are more than 50 community-owned pubs operating throughout the UK and with charities like the Plunkett Foundation supporting them, that number is growing every year.  Some of them are even still offering shares – so check out our publist, you might just have one right on your doorstep!

 

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness – and good beer, of course!

As Summer comes to an end the time has come to retreat from the beer garden and welcome the Autumn months. And what better place to do that than in front of an open fire while waiting for a fix of proper pub grub – which after having been neglected for the past 7 months (because no one wants a stew in Summer) can get the appreciation it rightly deserves. But of course, to compliment these hearty meals, you’re going to need an appropriate beverage for accompaniment, which is where the Autumn ales – my personal favourite – come in. As the days get darker, so do the beers, and the pale ales give way to the deeper shades of ruby and copper; robust in body and mellow in taste. The complex flavours of spices, caramels, and hints of seasonal fruits are bound to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, as the temperature drops outside. So, if you are sad that Summer is over (or even if you’re not) here are 5 of our favourite Autumn ales to ease you into the new season.

Cheers!

Ruby Witch (Moorhouse’s)

Colour: Dark Ruby

Smell: Roasted, Spice, Tangerine

Taste: Coffee, Spice, Fruit

ABV: 4.6%

Bitter: 3.5/5

Sweet: 3/5

 

Hobgoblin (Wychwood Brewery)

Colour: Ruby

Smell: Toffee, Slight Citrus, Chocolate

Taste: Toffee, Dry, Biscuit

ABV: 4.5%

Bitter: 3/5

Sweet: 3/5

 

Tormit Heed (Firebrick Brewery)

Colour: Dark Amber

Smell: Toffee, Fruity, Malty

Taste: Toffee, Liquorice, Spice

ABV: 4.9%

Bitter: 3/5

Sweet: 3/5

 

Red Fox (Fuller’s)

Colour: Tawny

Smell: Sweet, Caramel, Fruit

Taste: Rich, Creamy, Toasted

ABV: 4.3%

Bitter: 2/5

Sweet: 4/5

 

Forest Hare (Bath Ales)

Colour: Copper Red

Smell: Hoppy, Zesty, Heady

Taste: Bitter, Fruity, Dry

ABV: 3.9%

Bitter: 3.5/5

Sweet: 2.5/5