Licence to Chill: 10 of England's most haunted pubs

We’ve matched up some of England’s haunted
hostelries with photographs from the Historic England Archive. From spectral
soldiers to unearthly urchins, our urban and rural pubs and inns are great places
for chilling tales and spectral happenings. 

The Red Lion Public House, High Street, Avebury, Wiltshire (1947-06-11) by Aerofilms LtdHistoric England

The Red Lion Public House, Avebury, Wiltshire

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 17th centuries, 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 English Civil Wars. 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.

Read the List entry for The Red Lion.

The George Hotel and Pilgrims' Inn, High Street, Glastonbury, Somerset (1929-08-07) by London Midland and Scottish RailwayHistoric England

The George Hotel and Pilgrims' Inn, Glastonbury, Somerset

Built in the late 15th century, and originally called the Pilgrims’ Inn, it 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 Glastonbury 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!

Read the List entry for the George Hotel and Pilgrims' Inn.

The Black Bear Inn, Mythe Road, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire (1860/1922) by Henry William TauntHistoric England

The Black Bear Inn, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire

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.

Read the List entry for The Black Bear.

A view looking north showing buildings in Close, Quayside, Newcastle Upon Tyne (1969-05) by Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of EnglandHistoric England

The Cooperage, Close, Newcastle upon Tyne

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.

Read the List entry for The Cooperage.

Ye Olde Salutation Inn, Hounds Gate, Nottingham (1942) by N TrumanHistoric England

Ye Olde Salutation Inn, Nottingham

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!

Read the List entry for Ye Olde Salutation Inn.

The Hatchet Inn, Frogmore Street, Bristol (1967) by Eric de MaréHistoric England

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.

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!

Read the List entry for The Hatchet Inn.

Drinkers in the beer garden at the Flask Inn, Highgate West Hill, Highgate, Camden, Greater London (1965/1967) by John GayHistoric England

The Flask Inn, Highgate, Greater 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. 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.

Read the List entry for The Flask Inn.

The Grenadier Public House, Wilton Row, Belgravia, Westminster, Greater London (1985-02-02) by Paul BarkshireHistoric England

The Grenadier Public House, Belgravia, Greater London

Set in a respectable West London mews, the Grenadier was supposedly a former mess for the officers of the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards. It is claimed that it opened to the public in 1818 as The Guardsman Public House. However, the building is probably of later date.

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.

The Jamaica Inn, Bolventor, Altarnun, Cornwall (1959-07-30) by Harold WinghamHistoric England

Jamaica Inn, Bolventor, Cornwall

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 inn's popularity grew 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.

Read the List entry for Jamaica Inn.

The Ostrich Inn, High Street, Colnbrook, Colnbrook with Poyle, Slough (1900/1912) by Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of EnglandHistoric England

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.

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.

Read the List entry for The Ostrich.

Credits: Story

Historic England is the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England's spectacular historic environment, from beaches and battlefields to parks and pie shops.

Discover the Historic England Archive.

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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