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Pub’s ghost stolen by Chinese artist

One of the UK’s oldest pubs has demanded that its ghost be returned after it was bottled up and stolen by a Chinese artist who has now put the spectre on display in an exhibition.

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James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby

The Ye Olde Man & Scythe is one of the UK’s oldest pubs, first mentioned in 1251 in the town of Bolton’s charter. It is also the site of the infamous murder of James Stanley, the Seventh Earl of Derby, who had been involved in the Bolton Massacre which had led to the deaths of 1,644 people.

Nicknamed “Lord Strange”, Stanley was executed in 1644 for treason following the English Civil War and it is often claimed he spent his last few hours sitting in the pub. Ever since, his spectre has been said to have haunted the pub, until now.

Chinese artist Lu Pingyuan claims to have stolen the ghost, having travelled from Shanghai to Bolton, sealing its spirit in a metal canister which is now on show at the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art in nearby Manchester.

The exhibits description explains that having heard of the story of Stanley and the pub he is believed to haunt Lu Pingyuan was “inspired to attempt to catch the ghost of this historical figure – a symbolic act in reaction to the UK’s colonialist past, which saw great losses of both tangible and intangible cultural assets by other nations.”

However his claims have riled the pub’s owner Richard Greenword, who wrote a letter to Mr Lu demanding that he “return” the ghost, as reported by Bolton News.

“I would have liked to have been privy to your actions and indeed to the exhibition before the ghost of James Stanley was taken out of Bolton, his ties to the town and to Ye Olde Man and Scythe run very deeply”, wrote Greenwood.

“I feel very strongly that James Stanley’s ghost should remain in Bolton and at Ye Olde Man and Scythe to preserve the natural order of things. That said I do believe that your exhibition should travel and be seen by many people around the world and I would like to contribute to this as long as at the end of your exhibition it returns home.”

Mr Greenwood has offered to donate to the exhibition the chair that the Earl sat at for his last meal on the grounds that both the chair and the ghost are returned at the end of the tour.

Ye-Olde-Man-and-Scythe-in-Bolton
Ye Olde Man and Scythe in Bolton

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