Christmas Ghosts of Pubs, Inns & Theaters Dec 24, 2014 0:25:03 GMT -5 Joanna, Sam, and 1 more like this
Post by Graveyardbride on Dec 24, 2014 0:25:03 GMT -5
Christmas Ghosts of Pubs, Inns & Theaters
England has dozens of haunted pubs, inns, hotels and theaters, but only a few boast genuine spirits of Christmas past. The Travellers Rest Country Inn in Brough, Derbyshire, a tiny village set among the rolling hills and valleys of the Peak District, harbors the spirit of a lady who died at the inn one cold Christmas Eve night. Legend has it that in the early 19th century, a young lady in mourning for a close family member – though not her husband – left her home in Liverpool to join her kin “somewhere in the north.” She was traveling by coach and the only female passenger. There were stops along the way to change teams, but by the time the carriage reached Slackhall, it began to snow, lightly, at first, then more heavily as the conveyance transported its freezing passengers through hills and dales. When they arrived at Hope, the snow was so heavy visibility was impaired and the horses became skittish. The driver announced he was going to have to lead the animals the following mile into Brough where they would have to stay the night. Brough was where coaches changed teams and the driver stabled his weary animals and instructed the stable boy he would need a strong, spirited team the following morning.
The lady and three male passengers entered the Travellers Rest Inn and requested supper and sleeping accommodations for the night. It was the night before Christmas and several rowdy, inebriated customers sat near the fireplace as the passengers had their supper at a corner table. The landlord advised the men they would be sleeping in a room to the right of the pub and the lady was directed to a small room at the top of the stairs. The arduous journey had physically drained the exhausted passengers and they all departed together, the men to their common room and the the young woman to her second-floor accommodation.
Although no one knows precisely what happened, a few minutes later, the lady came downstairs. She may have forgotten something or, perhaps, she intended to ask the landlord for an extra blanket. Even though she was clad in black from head to toe, she was a lovely lass and as she attempted to leave the pub, some of the drunken revelers asked her to join them. She politely declined the invitation, but as she passed a table near the stairs, a fellow grabbed at her, attempting to pull her down onto his lap. The lady, horrified by the impropriety and probably a little frightened, pulled away and ran up the steep staircase. Unfortunately, before she reached the door to her room, and safety, she missed a step, lost her balance and tumbled down the steps. The landlord rushed to her assistance, but it was apparent from the queer angle at which her head was positioned that the woman’s neck was broken.
Ever since that long-ago snowy night, the Travellers Rest has been visited every Christmas Eve night by a “Lady in Black.” The unhappy apparition appears in full mourning and glides wistfully along the upstairs corridor. Although landlords and employees have seen the Lady in Black only during Yuletide, there have been sightings at other times of the year. An American tourist saw the black-draped apparition in the upstairs hall just before Thanksgiving in 1985, and a local ghost-hunter claimed she once “felt” the tragic wraith’s presence in early December.
Dunkenhalgh Hall – now a luxury hotel – at Clayton-le-Moors, near Blackburn, Lancashire, is the site of a sad Christmas haunting. Some time during the 19th century while the Petre family owned the great house, an army officer visited one Christmas and during his stay, seduced a pretty, vivacious young French governess named Lucette. Shortly thereafter, he departed, promising Lucette he would return the following summer. By mid-spring, the once cheerful governess had grown morose and women of the house noticed her hourglass figure had begun to thicken. Unable to face the shame of an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, late one evening, Lucette slipped from the house and made her way in the moonlight to the nearby bridge. As the midnight hour approached, the young girl cried out the name of her lover and plunged to her death in the cold, dark waters of the River Hyndburn. Ironically, a few weeks following Lucette’s suicide, the man she thought had abandoned her returned, as promised, to take her as his bride. But the young officer had no chance to grieve for his lost love, for Lucette’s brother arrived from France, called out the man whom he accused of causing his sister’s death, and shot him dead. For more than a hundred years, each Christmas Eve, the misty white form of Lucette leaves Dunkenhalgh Hall (above) and floats to what has come to be known as Boggart’s Bridge, boggart being a local term for a bothersome ghost.
Maidenhead’s Hobgoblin Pub in extreme southeastern Berkshire is troubled by poltergeist activity throughout the year, but from around December 22 through December 24, the phantom clinking of glasses is heard in the late afternoon in parts of the pub where no one is sitting. “It’s like the ghosts are toasting each other,” one employ declared, “and it goes on for two or three days and then it just stops until Christmas comes around again.”
Jack Hallan, in The Haunted Inns of England, describes the Grantley Arms public house (above) in Wonersh as “one of the prettiest pubs in Surrey.” The 15th century half-timbered former manor house was constructed on the foundations of a monastic rest stop and the spirit of a “jolly monk” continues to haunt the location. In the 1960s, a Catholic barmaid performed a rite of exorcism and the ghost, apparently offended, did not show himself for a few years, but finally returned. During the Christmas Holidays, employees and patrons alike catch fleeting glimpses of a what appears to be a merry, rotund monk who delights in poltergeist-type pranks of a lighthearted nature.
On Christmas Eve night, the sounds of heavy footsteps like that of someone marching up and down a passageway is heard at the Cross Keys Hotel at the corner of King and High Street, Saffron Walden, Essex. The noisy ghost is believed to be the spirit of one of Oliver Cromwell’s soldiers.
The Theater Royal and Garrick’s Head Hotel in Bath, Somerset, are haunted by two Yuletide apparitions. The first is beyond strange: an ectoplasmic butterfly, origins unknown, manifests once each year on Christmas Day, a time when there are no butterflies. The second is a “Grey Lady,” the spirit of an actress who, in the 1880s, appeared in a play during which she wore a grey dress with feathers at the neckline and cuffs. Although married, she was having an affair, and one cold December night when she returned to her dressing room, she discovered her husband had killed her lover. The circumstances of the murder aren’t known, but the actress was so distraught she apparently took her own life, for the following day, the lady’s corpse – still clad in her grey costume – was found in her room at the Garrick’s Head. For almost 150 years, around Christmastime, people have reported seeing the apparition of a pale young woman floating between the hotel and the Theatre Royal. Those who have seen the wraith say she is wearing an elaborate grey frock trimmed in feathers.
Each Christmas, a little girl holding a ragdoll manifests in the upper part of the Prospect Inn, Exeter, Devon. She appears friendly and smiles sweetly at anyone who sees her, then quickly disappears.
At one time, Peterborough’s Cherry Tree Inn, located in Cambridgeshire, was disturbed by poltergeist-type activity on Christmas Day, but at no other time. Unfortunately, like so many other English pubs, the Cherry Tree began featuring loud music and the Christmas ghost has not been heard since. Apparently, the dead – like many of the living – find loud music intolerable.
One of the more intriguing Yuletide haunts is that of the Shipwright’s Arms (above), an ancient pub on the banks of Faversham Creek in Kent. In fact, one might say, the lonely, almost inaccessible pub, first licensed in 1738, is the sort of place that wouldn’t be complete without a ghost. Well-known for its excellent ales and beers, including a special brew called “Shipwrecked,” the remote public house is decorated in a rustic nautical style with vintage shipwright’s tools and model ships. In winter, the howling wind and steady pounding of the turbulent surf in the distance can be unnerving and patrons often feel cut off from the rest of the world. As they huddle as close as possible to the crackling log fire, it isn’t difficult to imagine that something unearthly lurks just outside the door, and before long, someone tells the story of the ghost of the Shipwright’s Arms.
One Christmas Eve many years ago – perhaps when the area was a haven for smugglers and pirates – the landlord locked the doors of the pub behind the last of his besotted patrons and hurried to bed. It was a bitterly cold night. The wind moaned and whined and the old building creaked under nature’s onslaught. But amid the other noises, the landlord thought he heard someone pounding on the door, but believing it was either a loose board banging in the wind, or one of his customers in hopes of “one more for the road,” he yelled he wasn’t getting out of bed “for man or devil,” defiantly pulled the covers over his head, and fell into a deep sleep.
The following morning, the licensee was horrified when he opened the door and discovered a snow-shrouded corpse, frozen stiff, lying just outside. Every Christmas Eve since that fateful night so long ago, the sounds of pounding, accompanied by gradually-weakening cries for help, bedevil the isolated old pub.
Sources: The Haunted Inns of England by Jack Hallan; The Haunted Pub Guide by Guy Lyon Playfair; Haunted Inns and Taverns by Andrew Green; Haunted Pubs in Devon by Sally and Chips Barber; The Good Ghost Guide by John Attwood Brooks and Mari Roberts; Supernatural England by Eric Maple; and Britain's Haunted Heritage by J. A. Brooks.
See also “A Christmas Carol: Ghost of Charles Dickens”: whatliesbeyond.boards.net/thread/838/christmas-carol-ghost-charles-dickens
“Christmas Ghosts: Haunted Churches & Sunken Bells”: whatliesbeyond.boards.net/thread/3037/christmas-ghosts-haunted-churches-sunken
“Christmas Ghosts: Spectral Coaches & Royal Spirits”: whatliesbeyond.boards.net/thread/3032/christmas-ghosts-spectral-coaches-spirits