Disturbing Activity In The UK’s Watering Holes And Drinking Establishments

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
November 11, 2023
Last Updated
October 29, 2023
Estimated Reading Time
12 min read
Posted in
Supernatural, Ghosts & Hauntings

Any building or location can contain a ghost. Without a doubt, though, some of the most intriguing and bone-chilling in equal measures can be found in public houses and inns, perhaps specifically in the United Kingdom. Indeed, some of these buildings date back almost a thousand years and have certainly seen all manner of activity within its walls, some of which, it would seem, lives on today in the form of manifestations, strange noises, and even prods and pushes from unseen forces.

As we will see, there is a particular concentration of haunted public houses and inns in certain cities such as London or the historic city of York. The fact is, however, these ghostly watering holes can be found in most towns and cities around the UK. And what’s more, rather than being hauntings and paranormal activity witnessed by a single person or family, they are ones that have been witnessed by multiple people over the course of many years, sometimes decades.

We will start our examination with some of these disturbing buildings with London, the capital of England, and a city whose long and melting-pot type history leaves a legacy that is seemingly still reaching out from the other side to the realm of the living in the modern world.

London – A Hive Of Paranormal Activity

If we start by turning our attention to London, it would be no surprise to anyone that there are many public houses that boast a ghost or two. [1] For example, as well as being one of the most haunted pubs in London, The Grenadier is one of the most haunted pubs in Britain. Located in the Wilton Mews area of London. It is said that the Duke of Wellington’s Grenadier Guard would often stay there, with the upper floors often being used as an Officer’s Mess by the soldiers of the nearby barracks. The pub is said to be haunted by the ghost of a soldier who met his unfortunate end after being discovered cheating at cards and then subsequently beaten and thrown down a stairwell where he died. Interestingly, this alleged incident happened in the month of September, a time when paranormal happenings appear to peak somewhat.

The Grenadier

The Grenadier

The pub has the usual sorts of paranormal goings-on, ranging from footsteps out of nowhere to strange, shadowy figures being seen moving across the room. There have also been many reports of chairs and tables moving around as if being pushed by invisible hands, and even stranger, of “wisps of smoke” appearing out of nowhere. Quite often, the room would drop in temperature and remain icy cold for a significant amount of time. There have also been reports of strange cries coming from the cellar area. The have also been several intriguing photographs captured on the premises, including one captured during a BBC program when a man with a moustache was found to be looking in the window from the outside.

The Home Of Several Spirits – The Spaniards Inn

The Spaniards Inn is a location that is said to be home to several spirits, including that if Dick Turpin, whose father was the landlord in the eighteenth century. Turpin is said to have regularly used the public house as a hideout, and his spirit is said to occasionally roam the upstairs rooms, and his horse has even said to have been seen in the car park area.

The Spaniards Inn

The Spaniards Inn

The Spaniards Inn has a long history, though, which dates back to 1585. It is claimed that the pub is named after two Spanish brothers – Francesco and Juan Porero – who were once joint landlords. However, they fell in love with the same woman, which would result in a duel between the brothers, with Juan being killed. His body was buried on the pub’s land and his spirit is said to roam around the building. Perhaps most unnerving of all is the spirit known as Black Dick, a moneylender who was run over and killed by a coach outside the building, Many customers and staff members have reported an invisible hand suddenly tugging on their clothing.

The Volunteer – Rebuilt On The Scene Of A Deadly Fire

The Volunteer is only a short distance away on Baker Street, and has its own history with strange ghouls. The foundations of the building were once the home of the Neville family in the 1600s until they were killed in a fire that burned the building to the ground in 1654. It was eventually rebuilt and used as a public house, even serving as a recruiting station during the world wars of the twentieth century. There have been many reports of sightings of a “well-dressed man” who is often seen standing or walking in the cellar of the pub, with some people even claiming the spirit to be that of one-time wealthy and influential Londoner, Rupert Neville (of the Neville family). Other reports speak of strange noises as well as lights flickering on and off.

The Volunteer

The Volunteer

At least two ghosts haunt The Flask, another pub that dates back hundreds of years to 1663. It is claimed that a Spanish barmaid hanged herself in the cellar of the pub following her landlord ending a relationship with her. The cellar is now a converted seating area, and many customers have reported seeing the lady, as well as feeling icy breath on their necks, as if someone is standing behind them. Another creepy manifestation is that of a soldier in a Cavalier uniform, who appears to haunt the main room of the public house. Customers and members of staff have reported seeing the spirit, only briefly, before he disappears behind one of the pillars, and then ultimately into thin air.

Without a doubt, one of the most unsettling and intriguing haunted public houses in London can be found in Shoreditch, not least because of the connection to the Jack the Ripper murders. It is claimed that several of Jack’s victims would often frequent the pub, and it is largely accepted that Annie Chapman was drinking there only hours before she met her brutal end at the hands of Jack the Ripper. The Ten Bells is said to be home to several spirits, including that of a baby who can often be heard crying, and a landlord who was murdered in the building and is now said to roam upstairs and crawl into peoples’ beds.

The Many Haunted Pubs Of Historic York

As we might expect given its long history, York is largely considered to be one of the most haunted cities in England, and that is much the same with many of the pubs you will find there. [2]

Although The Black Swan that you will see today if you venture out to York was built in the seventeenth century, the plot and the original structure was a family residence for three centuries prior to that, dating all the way back to 1417. And with all that history, it would appear that a build-up of paranormal energy has taken place, as it is one of the most active haunted pubs in the city. These range from the ghostly apparition of a young woman with long, black hair who can be seen wearing a white dress, often looking toward the main fireplace as if lost in thought, to the ghost of a man in a bowler hat from the early twentieth century who is seen pacing from room to room before disappearing. Perhaps strangest of all, though, is the pair of make legs that are sometimes seen walking from one room to another.

The Golden Fleece

The Golden Fleece

The Golden Fleece on the other hand has been a public house since 1503, and is one of the oldest, longest-running public houses in England. It is also considered to be the most haunted pub in York, with claims of there being around 15 different spirits within its walls. These ghosts include an intriguing apparition known as One-Eyed Jack, who is most often seen wearing a large red uniform coat and carrying a pistol. The Golden Fleece has a bottom bar and a top bar, which is haunted by a mean-tempered old man and a young boy respectively. Without a doubt, though, the most famous of these spirits would be that of Lady Anne Peckett, who was the wife of the one-time mayor of York, John Peckett. She has been sighted numerous times by guests and staff alike, usually walking along the corridors of the inn above, as well as many people hearing her walking up and down the stairs at night.

Ye Olde Starre Inne has been a public house since 1644. However, many historians believe that the cellar of the pub goes back much further than this, with many suggestions that Royalist soldiers were treated in this part of the building during the Civil War. So, it should not surprise us that of all the paranormal activity in this pub, most of it takes place in this subterranean part of the building. Many people, for example, report hearing screams or cries of pain coming from the cellar. While others report seeing an elderly lady dressed all in black on the cellar’s staircase. One of the strangest apparitions, however, is not of a ghostly lady or a wounded soldier, but of two cats that were said to have been bricked in between the pillar and the bar. It has been noted that many customers who bring their dogs with them witness their pets suddenly growling or barking at an apparent invisible presence, sometimes even attempting to give chase.

A Haunted Establishment That Goes Back To The Fifteenth Century

Another building with a long history – that includes parts of the building that date back to the 1400s – is The Snickeway Inn, which claims to have five different spirits that reside within its walls. One of these is the ghost of a lady named Mrs. Tulliver, although customers more often report feeling her cat, Seamus, brush against their arm or leg. Other people have reported seeing the manifestation of a young girl on the stairway. Perhaps most chilling of all, though, is the old man who is often seen sitting on the barrels in the cellar, and who is thought to sometimes through tools at staff members who venture down there.

The Snickeway Inn

The Snickeway Inn

Dating back to the sixteenth century The Old White Swan is another of the oldest public houses in the city of York, and another that appears to be home to multiple different spirits. Perhaps most notable are a group of papists, who several people claim to have witnessed in front of the fireplace in the early morning hours. Perhaps even more intriguing, and concerning, is that the fire is often found to have been relit after it has been extinguished by a member of staff. Many customers have heard strange, muffled voices, as well as footsteps going up and down the stairs, and even of furniture and tables moving and toppling over of their own accord.

Perhaps the most well-known haunted pub in York is The Guy Fawkes Inn, which is located just around the corner from York Minster in the most historic part of the city. Whether Fawkes’ spirit remains in the building or not is open to debate, but his birthplace can be found in the cottage which can still be found in the beer garden. In the main building, though, many people report seeing the spirits of two children who are said to have died from cholera in the eighteenth century.

Other Mysteriously Haunted Public Houses Around The UK

There are plenty of other haunted public houses and inns around the United Kingdom. Perhaps one of the most unsettling of such places is The Ostrich Inn in Berkshire, which not only has several ghost sightings to its name in the present, but multiple brutal murders in its past. [3] It is also, according to most sources, the fourth oldest pub in the United Kingdom, with the foundations stretching right the way back to 1106. One of the murders in The Ostrich Inn’s past was committed by infamous highwayman, Dick Turpin, who often stayed at the inn, and is said to have shot the housekeeper as he escaped out of one of the pub’s windows. Arguably the most famous murders occurred in the 1600s, when the landlord of the inn, Mr. Jarman, and his wife murdered several wealthy guests in their sleep for obvious financial gain.

The Ancient Ram

The Ancient Ram

Another inn that stretches back to the twelfth century is the Ancient Ram Inn in Gloucestershire, which was built in 1145, on a pagan burial ground to boot. It is said that around 20 ghosts and ghouls haunt the building, including an apparent demon, and a girl called Rosie who was murdered there. In fact, many people who have stayed at the inn have reported hearing the blood-curdling screams of a young girl, as well as the feeling of being touched by an icy cold hand. In some cases, furniture has also been said to have been pushed as if by invisible hands.

The Ghostly Goings-On Of The Droves Inn

One of the most intriguing of these ghostly watering holes is The Droves Inn in Loch Lomond, Scotland. [4] The pub is named after the cattle drovers who often worked in the area, and many of whom, according to local legend, still haunt the building today. Perhaps one of the most unnerving of these spirits is the drover known as Angus, who legend says was captured and hanged from a tree behind the pub by rival clansmen.

Many people have claimed to have seen or heard him moving about around the public house. There is also the spirit of a young girl who drowned in a nearby river and whose body was brought to one of the rooms before it was taken by the family. Many people who have stayed in this room have claimed to have noticed the temperature drop suddenly, with some even claiming to have seen the small child herself. There is also a rather unsettling tale of a guest at the inn who, after taking a picture, was shocked beyond belief to see a girl in the frame wearing a pink dress who was not there previously.

The Droves Inn

The Droves Inn

Like many historic cities in Scotland, Edinburgh has a plethora of ghosts and haunted locations to offer. It is said the most haunted of Edinburgh’s pubs is The Banshee Labyrinth (which was once called the Nicol Edwards Pub) has its own spooky happenings to boast of. The bar – which also serves as a nightclub, is located near the famous underground vaults of the city, which are famous for a whole host of paranormal activity and, it would seem, have leaked into The Banshee Labyrinth. One particularly feared spirit that is said to haunt the location is The Banshee herself, who is said to be an omen of death. Legend has it that during a renovation several of the workmen heard persistent screams coming from out of nowhere. Several hours later, one of them received a phone call to say a family member had passed away suddenly.

In Abergavenny, Wales is The Skirrid Mountain Inn, one of the country’s oldest public houses, and home to many tales of ghostly goings-on. What perhaps makes this claim all the more believable is that the pub was once a courtroom, and a beam of oak that was used to hang prisoners remains in place in the bar today, with an apparent 180 executions carried out from the beam. It is perhaps not a surprise, then, to hear that many of the ghostly noises and activity centers around this room.

The Ghost Caught On Camera

In February 2014, a public house that already had a long history of ghostly activity captured an apparent manifestation on its CCTV. [5] The pub in question, Ye Olde Man and Scythe in Bolton, England, dates back to 1251, and is one of the oldest public houses in the United Kingdom.

On 14th February, the landlord, Tony Dooley, came downstairs to discover smashed glass on the floor. He viewed the CCTV to see if it picked up who was responsible for the mess. However, as he did, he noticed it came to a sudden stop just after 6:18 am. When he rewound the footage and watched the moments before it stopped, he was beyond shocked to see what appeared to be a faint outline of a man walking across the screen near the bar.

Dooley would tell the media that he had always been a skeptic of such things as ghosts but after seeing the CCTV footage, he was now very much a “believer”.

It is thought that the man in the footage was the spirit of a Royalist officer from the Civil War who was executed in the square outside the pub after spending his last night there, with some people even speculating that the spirit is that of James Stanley, the 7th Earl of Derby, who was executed in Bolton in 1651 for his part in a bloody massacre that occurred outside the public house seven years previously in 1644. Even more morose, if intriguing, is the chair he sat in while awaiting his beheading is still inside the pub today.

The public house, however, is said to be home to multiple other spirits, with some estimates stating around 20 entities from beyond reside within Ye Olde Man and Scythe, including a young girl, a woman who was hanged near the building, and even a phantom dog. Dooley claimed that they often “hear things and wonder if it’s just the building settling down or whether it’s something else”.

You can see the CCTV footage in question below and make up your own mind if something paranormal took place.

Why Is There So Much Paranormal Activity In Public Houses?

As we can see, then, accounts of bizarre and unsettling activity of a paranormal nature can be found in public houses and inns all over the United Kingdom. And these activities have gone on for years, with multiple witnesses perhaps making them some of the most credible paranormal encounters on record.

There could be many reasons for this, not least, as we mentioned in our opening, that many of these buildings date back many hundreds of years, with some even dating back to the 1100s. During this long stretch of history, not only will the respective four walls of these buildings have seen much history, but by the very nature of alcohol consumption and the gathering aspect of public houses, they will also have seen some of the most disturbing and horrific murders and tragic deaths on record. And the increased amount of energy that was dispelled during these unfortunate events was such that it remains and manifests still today.

There is also the notion that the pubgoers themselves, who will have undoubtedly spoken of the hauntings over the decades and centuries, perhaps also add extra energy to these accounts. Indeed, the interest of the people in the realm of the living could very well provide the catalyst-type energy required for these ghouls and spooks to manifest as they do.

As more and more of these hundreds years old public houses succumb to modernization and the corporate-type pub chains that litter many modern towns and cities, perhaps we might see this paranormal activity die down and become less spoken of, which would perhaps be a shame. We are not only preserving a piece of history by maintaining these pubs and inns, but are perhaps preserving a more direct link to the past with some of those who once resided within the respective walls of these mysterious and enthralling buildings.

The video below looks at the Ye Olde Man and Scythe footage a little further.


1 Haunted Pubs In London, The Curious Pixie https://thecuriouspixie.com/haunted-pubs-in-london/
2 The 6 Most Haunted Pubs in York, Haunted Rooms https://www.hauntedrooms.co.uk/haunted-pubs/york
3 The World’s 10 Most Haunted Bars, The Spirits Business https://www.thespiritsbusiness.com/2014/10/the-worlds-10-most-haunted-bars/
4 8 of the Most Haunted Pubs In Britain, History Hit https://www.historyhit.com/guides/the-most-haunted-pubs-in-the-uk/
5 Civil War ghost caught on pub CCTV, The Drinks Business https://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2014/02/civil-war-ghost-caught-on-pub-cctv/

Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies, and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years of experience.

Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

Read Marcus' full bio.

You can contact Marcus via email.

Fact Checking/Disclaimer

Fact Checking

The stories, accounts, and discussions in this article may go against currently accepted science and common beliefs. The details included in the article are based on the reports, accounts and documentation available as provided by witnesses and publications - sources/references are published above.

We do not aim to prove nor disprove any of the theories, cases, or reports.  You should read this article with an open mind and come to a conclusion yourself.  Our motto always is, "you make up your own mind".  Read more about how we fact-check content here.

Copyright & Republishing Policy

The entire article and the contents within are published by, wholly-owned and copyright of UFO Insight.  The author does not own the rights to this content. 

You may republish short quotes from this article with a reference back to the original UFO Insight article here as the source. You may not republish the article in its entirety.

Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to our free newsletter and join our subscribers. Receive the latest articles directly in your inbox weekly.

If you don't like what you read, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *