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13 of the world’s most haunted pubs and bars

With Halloween just days away, thoughts inevitably turn to tales of ghosts, ghouls and goblins, and the drinks world has its fair share of spooky stories to tell.

Here, we round up some of the most gruesome tales behind some of the world’s most haunted pubs, bars and restaurants.

From the sudden appearance of ghostly figures, and vengeful proprietors, to the sound of phantom horses clattering over cobbles and giggling of a ghostly girl – these drinking dens are among the spookiest in the world.

Click through for a run down on some of spooky sightings to have taken place at these establishments, and the bone-chilling tales behind their hauntings…

The Mermaid Inn, Rye, East Sussex

Rebuilt in 1420, the Mermaid Inn in Rye boasts Norman cellars daring back to 1120. The site has played host to a long lists of non-paying guests, the most frequently sighted of which is a lady dressed in white who sits in a chair by the fireplace in room 1. Guests, many weeks apart, have told the same story of leaving their clothes on the chair during the night and waking to find them them wet. In the Nutcraker Suite, a lady in white said to have been murdered by smugglers has been spotted walking across the room and through the door, stopping at the foot of the bed for a moment on her way past. Two years ago in the Fleur de Lys room, a bank manager and his wife awoke to find a man walking through their bathroom wall and across the centre of their room. Meanwhile, wine bottles fly off shelves in the bar and a rocking chair rocks unaided in room 17.

Moon River Brewery, Savannah, Georgia

The Moon River Brewery is located in one of Savannah’s oldest buildings with a history dating back to 1821. Originally the City Hotel, the building has a well documented history of violence, particularly during the Civil War. During the spring of 1832, a feud broke out between local man James Stark and the city physician, Dr. Phillip Minis who shot Stark at the hotel’s bar for making disparaging remarks about him. In 1860 a New Yorker was near beaten to death by locals who did not take kindly to his presence. The building was renovated in the 1990s and turned into the Moon River Brewing Company and to this day customers and staff have reported strange, often violent, occurrences. Reports include bottles being thrown by unseen forces and people being touched, pushed, and slapped by invisible spirits. One ghostly figure is known as “Toby” who is said to lurk in the bar’s billiard room where he has been known to push patrons and staff.

Devil’s Stone Inn, Beaworthy, Devon

A former 17th century farmhouse in Devon, staff have reported many strange goings on at the pub, particularly when it is being refurbished. Taps start running unaided, beds unmake themselves, pictures are found on the floor in the morning and windows spontaneously fly open. Meanwhile, loud footsteps are often heard on the landing along with phantom knocks on the doors. Room 8 is thought to be the most haunted in the inn, with guests reporting the bed covers suddenly being removed and pictures being moved on the walls during the night.

A young girl’s giggling can also be heard along the corridor and the smell of smoke can sometimes be detected where there is none, as cottages that once caught fire share the same site as the inn. The spirit of an RAF pilot who died in room 4 can often be seen at the bar. To keep bad at bay, every year on the fifth of November, the Devil’s Stone next to the inn is turned over by the church bell ringers to keep Lucifer away from the village.

The Old Bank of England, Fleet Street, London

Before the Bank of England stood here, two taverns – The Cock and The Haunch of Venison – occupied the site in the 16th and 17th centuries. Both were demolished in 1888 to make way for the construction of the Law Courts branch of The Bank of England, which traded on the site for 87 years. Now a pub again, the spot boasts a grizzly past at it lies between Sweeney Todd’s former barber shop and Mrs Lovett’s pie shop. The tunnels and vaults below the present building were where Todd’s victims were butchered before being cooked and sold in pies to Mrs Lovett’s unsuspecting customers.

Ostrich Inn, Colnbrook, Berkshire

With foundations dating back to 1106, the inn, originally named The Hospice, was used as a hideout by legendary highwayman Dick Turpin, while famous London diarist Samuel Pepys also slept within its walls. The inn is said to be the site of over 60 murders. Most famous were those committed in the 17th century by the landlord at the time, one Mr Jarman, who with his wife made a profitable sideline by murdering wealthy guests after they had retired for the night. 

The pair had a trap door built into the floor of one of their bedrooms and, when a suitably rich candidate arrived, they would tip the sleeping victim from the hinged double bed through the trap door and into a vat of boiling liquid below. The unfortunate guests’ belongings were then sold to local gypsies. Paranormal activity at the inn includes strange noises, objects moving of their own accord and ghostly figures.

A woman in Victorian dress has been seen walking the corridors, while the most haunted area of the building is the upstairs restaurant next to where the murders took place. Another common report is of cold spots in the downstairs ladies loo, which used to be the pantry where Jarman stored his victims’ bodies.

Herringbone, La Jolla, California

This Californian coast restaurant is said to be haunted by the friendly ghost of its former owner, C. Arnholt Smith, a prominent businessman and original owner of the San Diego Padres. The building was used by Smith, nicknamed “Mr. San Diego”, as a car dealership before its was turned into a wine business by his son in the 1970s until that too closed. In 2010 it was bought by Herringbone who are in no doubt that the ghost of Mr San Diego still resides there. During renovations contractors reported sensing a presence with some seeing “unexplained shadows”. Speaking to the La Jolla Patch, the restaurant’s managing partner James Brennan said: “It is a friendly ghost. And he is there.” When there’s an empty stool at the bar, the bartenders often leave a drink in front of it as a nod to Smith.

The Red Lion, Avebury, Wiltshire

A woman known as Florrie is said to haunt this family pub in Avebury, Wiltshire – the site of Europe’s largest stone circle dating from between 4,000 and 2,400BC. The story goes that Florrie was thrown down a well by her soldier husband during the time of the English Civil War. Having gone to battle, while he was away Florrie took a lover. One night her husband returned unexpectedly from duty and discovered Florrie in flagrante with said lover. In a fit of rage, he shot his love rival dead, stabbed his wife and threw her body down a well, sealing it with a boulder.

There have been several sightings of a black-clad Florrie walking around the pub looking for a man with a beard, though reports differ as to whether she is seeking her husband or lover. On one occasion, a chandelier in the restaurant started spinning at an alarming rate when a man with a bushy beard was sat underneath it.

Customers have seen Florrie disappearing into the mouth of the well in the bar area, which has been glassed over and now doubles as a table. She has also appeared in the ladies loos and a former landlady reported seeing her throw salt and pepper mills across the tables in the restaurant. Guests have also reported sightings of the ghosts of two children cowering in the corner of the Avenue bedroom, while a horse-drawn carriage has been known to pull up outside the pub in the middle of the night accompanied by the clattering of hooves.

The Skirrid Inn, Llanvihangel Crucorney, Monmouthshire

Wales’ oldest pub, The Skirrid Inn dates back to 1110. Named after the mountain that looms over it, the pub has appeared in the TV show Most Haunted and is said to be one of the UK’s spookiest taverns. Glasses fly across the bar by themselves, faces have been seen at the windows, things mysteriously disappear only to turn up weeks later and residents often wake to an ice-cold room and the feeling that they are being watched. It is thought that one of the main spirits at the inn is that of Fanny Price, who worked at the pub in the 18th century and died of consumption aged 35. There have been many sightings of her in room 3.

The first floor of the inn was once used as a courtroom where people who committed serious offences were given capital punishment. In 1685, during an exceptionally bloody period in the inn’s history, 180 insurgents from the Monmouth Rebellion were hanged from an oak beam over the staircase just outside the courtroom. The hangings were ordered by Baron George Jeffreys, who has since been seen walking the upper floors of the inn in search of people to hang.

One felon who was sentenced to death, sheep rustler John Crowther, has been seen several times at the property. Other ghostly occurrences in the house are the powerful scent of perfume; the rustling of a lady’s dress; the sound of soldiers in the courtyard and sightings of a lady in white. Perhaps creepiest of all, many visitors have complained of feeling as if they were being strangled by a noose, which is no surprise given the pub’s history. Some have even reported the appearance of welts on their necks resembling rope burns.

Ear Inn, New York

The Ear Inn, constructed in 1817, is one of New York’s oldest bars and was once a favourite haunt among sailors merchants and pirates because of its proximity to the Hudson River. It is believed to be haunted by the ghost of a sailor named Mickey who was killed there. The sailor’s spirit is said to be particularly amorous and is often accused of “goosing” waitresses. His attempts at seduction get all the more creepy for those brave enough to stay the night. As reported by the NY Daily News, Brett Watson, paranormal expert, said: “Supposedly women who’ve lived upstairs above the bar say that the ghost has crawled into bed with them. He’s a sailor. Sailors are going to do what they’re going to do.”

The Grenadier, Belgrave Square, London

This red, white and blue-fronted pub in Wilton Mews, far from the madding crowd in London’s upmarket Belgravia district, is reported to be one of the most haunted pubs in Britain. Decorated with military paraphernalia, the inn was once frequented by the Duke of Wellington’s Grenadier Guards (hence the name), as the upper floors of the building were used as the Officers’ Mess of a nearby army barracks.

It is said to be haunted by the ghost of a soldier who was beaten to death and thrown down a stairwell after he was found to be cheating at a game of cards. The incident happened in September, which is when the pub experiences its highest levels of supernatural activity each year. A solemn spectre has been seen moving slowly across the pub’s low-ceilinged rooms and footsteps have been heard pacing empty rooms, while there have been reports of objects disappearing or mysteriously moving. Chairs and tables have also been known to rattle, wisps of smoke appear where there is no cigarette, and an icy chill can hang in the air for days on end, with someone even reporting to have heard a moaning sound coming from the depths of the cellar where the beating took place.

While the BBC was filming a programme on Britain’s most haunted pubs in 1982, the crew were tasked with taking a series of atmospheric stills shots of the pub. When they had the photos developed, the head of a mustachioed young man was found peering into the pub through one of the window panes, which lie 12 feet from the ground.

Menger Bar, San Antonio, Texas

The Menger Bar opened in 1859 along with the Menger Hotel. As with many southern state bars during the Civil War, the bar was the site of many a brawl and gun fights, with it today carrying the dubious title of “most haunted hotel in Texas” with up to 32 ghosts said to roam its halls. Its most famous is none other than former US President Teddy Roosevelt, who used the hotel to recruit cowboys for the military. The ghost of Roosevelt has reportedly been seen having a drink at one of the hotel’s bars, however the most commonly sighted spirit is a woman named Sallie White, a former chambermaid who was attacked by her husband in the hotel lobby and died two days later. She is commonly seen turning down beds in the Victorian wing of the hotel. One guest reported emerging from the show to see a ghost dressed in a buckskin jacket and grey pants engaged in a heated conversation with an unseen presence shouting “are you gonna stay or are you gonna go?”, three times before vanishing.

The Golden Fleece, York, North Yorkshire

The early 16th century Golden Fleece has a reputation of being one of the most haunted pubs in the country and was visited by the Most Haunted team in 2005. One of its resident spooks is said to be that of Geoff Monroe, a Canadian airman who was staying at the pub in room 4 when he died in 1945 by throwing himself out of the bedroom window.

People staying in his former room have reported sightings of a figure in full uniform standing over them and a corresponding drop in temperature. Customers have also complained of bed covers being removed, clothes taken off the rails and thrown on the floor, and the sound of footsteps running across the hallway.

During a ghost hunt in 2002, a number of people saw a man dressed in late-17th century clothes walking through the wall of the bar. Another spirit known to haunt the pub is that of Lady Anne Peckett, wife of the one time Mayor of York, John Peckett. A number of guests and staff have reported sightings of her wandering the corridors and walking up and down the staircase at night. Other ghosts include a man known as One Eyed Jack dressed in a red coat and holding a pistol, and the ghost of a boy believed to have been trampled to death by horses outside the pub in the Victorian era.




Miles Wine Cellars, Himrod, New York

Miles Wine Cellars is situated in a mansion in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York at the site of a former ferry crossing and has been owned by the Miles family since the early 1980s. The home was originally built in 1802 with its current owners in no doubt that they share their abode with an otherworldly presence. Doug Miles and Susan Hayes have reported hearing doors slam and footsteps in their kitchen and have had visions of a couple throughout the mansion. Miles’s father was said to be routinely awoken during the night by someone pressing on his back, and the comforter from his bed was frequently flung across the room. It is still quite often found crumpled at the base of the bedroom door. On the advice of clairvoyants, the couple avoid hosting séances or trying to document the ghosts, and instead put considerable effort into cleaning and maintaining the site’s cemetery. “If the ghost isn’t happy, nobody’s happy,” the winemaker has joked. In tribute to the spirits haunting their home the couple have released Ghost – a white wine made from a blend of Chardonnay and Cayuga.

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