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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.

Can your local top these haunted hostelries for revenant regulars? Take a look at these ghost stories below.

1. The Red Lion Public House, Avebury, Wiltshire

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.

The Red Lion Public House, Avebury, Wiltshire, photographed in 1947. © Historic England Archive EAW007056.

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

Built in the late 15th century and originally called the Pilgrims’ Inn, the George and Pilgrim claim to be one of the oldest purpose-built ‘pubs’ in southwest England.

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

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

Possibly in existence from 1308, the surviving building dates from the early 16th century.

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

Unsurprisingly, as the oldest inn in Gloucestershire, it has a ghost – a chain-dragging headless man haunting its rooms and corridors.

Seen wearing an army uniform by some witnesses, it has been suggested that he is a defeated Lancastrian soldier. He fought at the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471 and sought shelter in the town after fleeing the battlefield.

4. The Cooperage, Newcastle upon Tyne

Seen here in the centre of the photograph, The Cooperage was built in the 15th century as a house.

The Cooperage, Newcastle. © Historic England Archive BB69/03757.

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

Originating from the 16th century, the Salutation Inn is haunted by three ghosts, one being a highwayman.

Ye Olde Salutation Inn, Nottingham. © Historic England Archive AA42/04602.

Nottingham’s famous caves run beneath the inn, and within them is 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

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.

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

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, London

Situated close to Highgate Cemetery, The Flask is home to the ghost of a Spanish barmaid who hanged herself in the inn’s cellar.

The Flask Inn, photographed in 1965-7. © Historic England Archive AA095562.

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, London

Set in a respectable West London mews, the Grenadier was formerly a mess for the officers of the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards.

The Grenadier Public House, photographed in 1985. © Historic England Archive DD002388.

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 pub’s ceiling as tokens to pay the officer’s gambling debt.

9. Jamaica Inn, Bolventor, Cornwall

Built as a house, Jamaica Inn on Bodmin Moor dates from around the late 18th century.

Jamaica Inn, Cornwall, photographed in 1959. © Historic England Archive HAW/9401/11.

Made famous by the novel by Daphne Du Maurier, the house was made into an inn due to the novel’s success. Its ghostly happenings include strange voices, 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 one 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

Used as a hideout by highwayman Dick Turpin, it is said that over sixty murders have been committed at this 16th-century inn.

The Ostrich Inn 1900-1912 
The Ostrich Inn, Slough, photographed in 1900-1912. © Historic England Archive OP34624.

Many victims were killed 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

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.

golden fleeceyork
The Golden Fleece, York. Photo by Jo Turner via Geograph.

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 a sweet smell of perfume.

The most recent ghost is a Second World War airman who either committed suicide or, in a drunken state, fell three floors to his death.

Does your local have 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.

More ghost stories

More great pubs

12 comments on “Licence to Chill: 11 of England’s Most Haunted Pubs

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

  2. Reblogged this on Karl Quinney.

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

  4. 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!

  6. Gemmie Dodger

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

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

  8. 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.

  9. Shirley Hawley

    Haunted pubs.
    We have couple of pubs in Alton Hampshire. The Crown has 2 ghosts, one is a black dog that is seen by the fireplace where the dog owner beat it against the wall until it died. The other is a woman that walks about. Another pub called The George. There is a shadow that is often seen, not sure who but it I am not happy when I feel it! There many other places if anyone wants to now, just let me know. S. Hawley

  10. Martin Lyne

    Pluckley in Kent, is the most haunted village in England. I’m surprised you haven’t included the Black Horse in Pluckley, which has numerous ghosts. Pluckley village now is sealed off on Halloween weekend, as the number of ghoul hunters became unmanageable.

  11. Andrew Robley

    The White Hart Hotel in St Albans, ( GII* Inn C15th origins) . Whilst visiting the building as part of my thesis at the AA Building Conservation Course, I encountered some “Psychic Investigators”, one of whom maintained that they detected the “presence” of someone who they thought had been hanged in the room we were in, which was immediately above the carriage arch.
    At the time, I nodded and politely took my leave but during my research discovered a news report of a fatal accident that had occurred as a stage coach left the premises through this very carriage arch. At some time during the C19th, a- young lady who had been travelling “outside”, ie on top of the coach, had failed to heed the coachman’s warning “HEADS!” and had not ducked in time to avoid being killed on impact.
    The accident was alluded to in Pickwick Papers by Charles Dicken’s who frequented St Albans ( The city also later featured in Bleak House). One of his characters, the disreputable Jingle, refers to it in a jocular way, in his strange episodic manner of speaking. ” Poor lady – failed to heed coachman’s warning – sandwich in hand, -head off, -nowhere to put it! ( this is my paraphrase, I do have the book but would need to read it through this large tome to find the actual quote, which being by Dickens is better put and humorous but now knowing the true story, I now find, tinged with sadness.
    It certainly leads me to be more intrigued by the psychic’s comment.
    Andrew Robley

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