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Licence to chill: 11 of England’s most haunted pubs

From spectral soldiers to unearthly urchins, our urban and rural pubs often play host to chilling tales of haunting happenings.

From spectral soldiers to unearthly urchins, our urban and rural pubs often play host to chilling tales of ghostly happenings.

Can your local top these haunted hostelries for revenant regulars? Tell us about it in the comments.

1. Red Lion Public House, Avebury, Wiltshire

EAW007056. 1947. Aerofilms Ltd© Historic England Archive

Situated in the heart of one of the world’s greatest Neolithic monuments, Avebury’s Red Lion is supposedly home to at least five different ghosts. Built as a farmhouse in the late 16th or early 17 century, it became a coaching inn in the early 19th century. One of its more spectacular ghostly apparitions is a phantom carriage that clatters through its yard. Inside, the ghost of Florrie haunts the pub. Florrie took a lover while her husband was away fighting during the Civil War. He returned to find the couple, shot his wife’s lover and stabbed Florrie, throwing her body down the well. The glass-topped well now serves as a table in the bar.

2. The George and Pilgrim Hotel, Glastonbury, Somerset

The George and Pilgrim Hotel,Somerset 1929 © Historic England Archive CC80/00338

Built in the late 15th century, and originally called the Pilgrims’ Inn, the George and Pilgrim is reputedly the oldest purpose-built ‘pub’ in the south west of England. At least two ghosts haunt this brilliant building, including a monk from the nearby abbey and an elegant lady. One interpretation is that the two are lovers who, unable to consummate their feelings for one another, are doomed to wander the corridors. Another version is that the monk was walled up in the cellar in punishment for breaking his vow of celibacy!

3. Ye Olde Black Bear, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire

CC57_00316 Black Bear, Tewkesbury, 1860-1922
Ye Olde Black Bear, Tewkesbury 1860-1922 © Historic England Archive CC57/00316

Possibly in existence from 1308, the surviving building dates from the early 16th century. Unsurprisingly, as it is the oldest inn in Gloucestershire it has a ghost – a chain-dragging headless man haunting its rooms and corridors. Seen wearing army uniform by some witnesses, it has been suggested that he is a defeated Lancastrian soldier who fought at the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471 and who sought shelter in the town after fleeing the battlefield.

4. The Cooperage, Newcastle upon Tyne

The Cooperage, Newcastle © Historic England Archive BB69/03757

Seen here in the centre of the photograph, The Cooperage was built in the 15th century as a house. It became cooperage prior to its transformation into a pub and restaurant. Sited close to the banks of the River Tyne, it was allegedly where a battle between a Royal Navy press gang and locals resulted in the death of Henry Hardwick. Since then Henry’s ghost has haunted The Cooperage and the adjacent alleyway. A second ghost, dressed in Edwardian clothing, also haunts in and around the pub.

5. Ye Olde Salutation Inn, Nottingham

Ye Olde Salutation Inn © Historic England Archive AA42/04602

Originating from the 16th century, the Salutation Inn is haunted by three ghosts, one being a highwayman. Nottingham’s famous caves run beneath the inn and it is within these that a ghost of a young child dwells. She is thought to be a street urchin who met her death in the 19th century. The third ghost is one of the inn’s former landlords. He was so terrified by the ghostly goings on in his inn that he took his own life!

6. The Hatchet Inn, Bristol

AA98_04316 Hatchet Inn, Bristol, 1945-80
The Hatchet Inn © Historic England Archive AA98/04316

Built in 1606, The Hatchet Inn is one of Bristol’s oldest pubs. It has a murky past, having played host to bare knuckle boxing, dog fighting, cock fighting and a rat pit. As well as being haunted, it is alleged that beneath layers of wood, plaster and paint, the front door and walls are lined with human skin!

7. The Flask Inn, Highgate, Greater London

The Flask Inn 1965-7 © Historic England Archive AA095562

Situated close to Highgate Cemetery, The Flask is home to the ghost of a Spanish barmaid who hanged herself in the inn’s cellar. Her demise came about following a failed romance with The Flask’s publican. The Flask is also supposedly haunted by a man in a Cavalier uniform, despite the inn’s early 18th century origins.

8. The Grenadier Public House, Belgravia, Greater London

The Grenadier Public House 1985 © Historic England Archive DD002388

Set in a respectable West London mews, the Grenadier was formerly a mess for the officers of the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards. It opened to the public in 1818 as The Guardsman Public House. Its most notorious ghost is that of a young officer who was caught cheating at cards, beaten and thrown downstairs to his death. Tradition has it that money is stuck to the ceiling of the pub as tokens to pay the officer’s gambling debt.

9. Jamaica Inn, Bolventor, Cornwall

Jamaica Inn 1959
Jamaica Inn 1959 © Historic England Archive HAW/09401/11

Built as a house, Jamaica Inn on Bodmin Moor dates from around the late 18th century. Made famous by the novel by Daphne Du Maurier, the house was made into an inn as a result of the novel’s success. Its ghostly happenings include strange voices and the sounds of hooves and wheels over cobbles, and the vision of a man in a tricorne hat who walks through solid doors. One of the inn’s ghosts is that of a patron who on day left the inn with his drink half-finished. His murdered body was found on the moor the next day. It is said his ghost returns to the inn to finish his drink.

10. The Ostrich Inn, Colnbrook, Slough

The Ostrich Inn 1900-1912 
The Ostrich Inn 1900-1912 © Historic England Archive OP34624

Used as a hideout by highwayman Dick Turpin, it is said that over sixty murders have been committed at this 16th century inn. Many victims were done to death by the inn’s landlord and his wife in an extraordinarily mechanical way. One of the bedrooms was fitted with a tipping bed and trap door. Unfortunate wealthy travellers who had been plied with drink and retired for the night would slide out of bed, through the trap door and into a vat of boiling liquid below! Their final victim, Thomas Cole, haunts the inn.

11. The Golden Fleece, York

golden fleeceyork
© Copyright Jo Turner

In 2014 the Ghost Research Foundation International declared York as the most haunted city in the world, and The Golden Fleece is the city’s most haunted pub. With a history dating back to the early 16th century, the pub was rebuilt in around 1840 and refurbished in 1926. Up to seven spirits currently haunt here. One is the ghost of Lady Alice Peckett, wife of the Lord Mayor and owner of The Golden Fleece. In the form of an old lady, she is seen in several rooms and brings with her a sweet smell of perfume. The most recent ghost is that of a Second World War airman who either committed suicide or in a drunken state fell three floors to his death.

Does your local have any ghosts rattling chains among the bottles in the cellar, or spooks that chill your bones at the bar? Tell us your spooky pub stories in the comments below.

Further Reading



12 comments on “Licence to chill: 11 of England’s most haunted pubs

  1. Pingback: Eleven of England’s most haunted pubs | The Heritage Trust

  2. Thanks for the tour…the black and white presentation was a plus IMHO

  3. Reblogged this on Karl Quinney.

  4. Pingback: Licence to chill: 11 of England’s most haunted pubs « Historical Tours Ireland

  5. Pingback: Ghosts: License to chill: 11 of England’s most haunted pubs — Heritage Calling | Book 'Em, Jan O

  6. Really interesting, thank you. I’ve stayed at The Jamaica Inn, and had some very spooky experiences I can say! 👻

  7. The only one of these I’ve tried is Jamaica Inn, but then I am from Cornwall! If there is a ghost there it must the spirit of Daphne du Maurier vexed by the soulless exhibits which milk their link with a great book.


    East Yorkshire (Hull and Beverley) missed out again, but then I expect a lot of other places can claim the same!

  9. Gemmie Dodger

    Wow this is cool! Would like to try The Grenadier Public House!

  10. You’ve missed the Talbot Hotel in Oundle northants which is reputed to be haunted

  11. The Cross Keys Hotel in Chatteris deserves a mention. It dates back to the late 14th Century and most of the locals have experienced something.

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