Just as the clock struck midnight, a glass fell with a smash on the bar floor and footsteps were heard running down the corridor above...
Whether you're a believer or not, there's no denying that haunted pubs are a great topic of walking tours, paranormal investigations and chats, over a pint at the dead of night! And, while it's Halloween and all, we thought we'd share a few stories of our own that we were told while researching the history of some of our pubs.
THE WEEPING WILLOW, BARROW
As shared by Chloe, now Assistant Manager at The Crown, Stoke-by-Nayland
The room at the top of the The Weeping Willow (Mavis’ room!) is supposedly where a young girl's ghost figure is seen from the street, according to a guest that is a regular in the pub. I do not think she means any harm, she just likes to mess about with us all and most team members have a story or two. It is a great conversation starter amongst everyone, and we often chat about her!
There is definitely a presence at The Weeping Willow; we all feel it.
My first experience was during lockdown in 2020. Justin, my husband and the Head Chef at the time, our son Maverick (3 years old!) and I used to go over to the pub each week-or-so to run the taps and make sure everything was in good order.
We spent a lot of time over there doing numerous things to help, but on this occasion I went to use the loo and could hear some fumbling of footsteps in the cubicle next to me. I had assumed it was Maverick or Justin, but came out to find that I was on my own in the pub and they were outside in the meadow! Nobody else was with us this day. I am guessing it was Mavis, having a play around. I ran out quicker than you could say boo!
Needless to say, if you think you are alone at The Weeping Willow… you most definitely are not!
The second occasion was a Saturday evening after a busy dinner service. It was just Justin and I finishing up and he was doing some orders whilst I was tiding a few bits on the bar. I had felt an 'odd' vibe for a while and kept looking behind me; you know when it feels like someone is looking at you?! I even joked that I couldn’t walk outside to my car alone. Laughing at me, Justin walked me about 10 steps outside. As I drove off he went upstairs to put on his leathers to leave on his motorbike. Bearing in mind there was not a single soul left in the building aside from him, as he was getting changed he heard a pan fall onto the kitchen floor from downstairs. I think he sprinted out that night! Needless to say, if you think you are alone at The Weeping Willow…you most definitely are not!
THE SHIP, DUNWICH
With thanks to James Ritchie for this memory of Dunwich
Then called The Barne Arms Hotel, my parents owned and ran the pub in the 60's and early seventies. As boys, my brother and I shared an attic room and shortly after I left for the army, my brother experienced a very strange event one night. Waking, he'd become aware of what he described as a young, grey woman sitting beside his bed. Startled, he sat up and she'd risen, turned and seemed to walk through the wall beside him. Of course no-one believed him and nothing was ever mentioned again. Until...
she'd risen, turned and seemed to walk through the wall beside him.
In 1998, my wife and I returned to the pub, now known as The Ship, to stay with the new owner, a friend of my parents. Annie gave us the obligatory and memory-inducing guided tour, and I was astounded to find a room now opened up off the old attic bedroom which I couldn't remember having been there when I was a boy. She explained that it had been noticed that there was an extra dormer window on the roof, so they had removed the first layer of plaster in the room to find a sealed-off door! Behind it, an empty but fully functional, floor-boarded room.
It transpired that the woman my brother had seen that spooky night twenty years earlier had actually walked through a doorway, once hidden by the plastering.
THE CARPENTERS ARMS, GREAT WILBRAHAM
Experiences shared on Facebook by old team members and guests
Operational as early as 1767, it's no surprise that The Carpenters Arms comes with a tale or two. "I came here to mention the ghosts", is the first comment in response to a social media post asking for people to share history of the pub with us for our anniversary magazine. Thirty-odd comments later, it seems that is all anyone wants to mention!
"Everyone turned to look when they heard the latch open", but there was no one there...
Suzanne Northfield, who used to work at the pub, recalls many an eerie moment. From a guest at the bar turning to her one night and saying 'yes' when he believed she'd just tapped him on the shoulder - she hadn't - to hearing footsteps across the landing before opening. Suzanne isn't the only one to mention footsteps either, as this seems to be an occurrence that over five other people have since reported to us.
One of the more bizarre experiences had been witnessed by previous owners; just after Heather and Rick moved in, early one morning they woke to a smell so strong it stuck in the back of their throats. It was awful, like manure had been put on their bed. Without sharing this strange phenomena with anyone, they were surprised that when their daughter visited it was the first comment she made at breakfast.
Finally, another guest mentions seeing the front door open and close on its own one evening like somebody had just come into the bar. "Everyone turned to look when they heard the latch open", but there was no one there...
If you've not been spooked out enough and would like to learn more about our collection of pubs with rooms,