Thursday, 22 August 2013
The Red Lion started life as a 17th century farmhouse until it was granted a licensed to serve ale in 1802. Over the years it has gained a reputation for being one of the most haunted hostelries in Britain. It is unique in as much as it is the only public house in the world to stand at the centre of a huge Neolithic ring of standing stones. There have been many reports of ghostly goings on at The Red Lion, they include: a horse drawn carriage which has been heard to draw up on the cobblestones immediately outside the pub. The ghostly carriage is said to start its journey from the original south gate of a 16th century Manor house in the village. Those who have witnessed it, tell of seeing a huge, dark shape emerge from a swirling mist as it thunders through the village before pulling up outside the pub where it disappears.
In the restaurant, there is a table set close to a large bay window, above which hangs a chandelier, which on occasion has been seen to swing from side to side of its own accord. It is believed this is a sign that Flori (a young lady from the 17th century who is thought to have been murdered by her jealous husband) is in close proximity. More about Flori and swaying chandeliers later.
Still in the restaurant, staff have noticed some rather unpleasant odours akin to rotting eggs. The lights in the bar have a habit of spontaneously switching on and off, the CD player will occasionally start up at full volume, cutlery has been known to mysteriously rearranged itself after tables have been laid. There are even stories of a ghostly waiter who never asks for your order but instead stands motionless at your table until spoken to, at which point he abruptly disappears.
Upstairs there are two reputedly haunted bedrooms, one is the Private Bedroom, where several guests have asked to be moved to another room complaining of feeling uneasy. The Private Bedroom has three ghosts; a woman called Beth, who stands gazing out of the window and two children who have be seen holding hands and cowering in a corner as if in fear of their lives.
The second of the two haunted bedrooms is the Avenue Room, which has two adult ghosts, one male one female. These two have an unpleasant habit of popping up beside the bed, or rising up through the bed, doubtless a residue from a time when no bed was in evidence on that spot. There have also been occasions where guests have had to fight to keep their bedclothes from being pulled off by unseen hands in the dead of night. Other witnesses to this phenomena have just watched in abject horror as said bedclothes are ripped from them and thrown to the floor, whilst others have checked out the same night vowing never to return.
A previous landlord is said to have been murdered here in the early 18th century by a band of outlaws who forced him to keep them hidden in the cellar to avoid detection by the authorities. He complied with their demands but unfortunately for him, he had obviously seen and heard far too much for the gang to allow him to live, so they stabbed him to death. The spectre of what is thought to be the dead landlord now haunts the cellar and by all accounts he is a pretty fearsome sight; drenched in blood and brandishing a knife (not too sure why it should be he that is brandishing the knife) causing horrified staff to flee the cellar in fear of their lives.
The Lady in Black
Probably the most famous of the Red Lion's ghosts is Flori. Those who claim to have seen her described her as solid in appearance, in her early twenties with shoulder length hair and dressed in a long dark skirt, matching bodice and puffed sleeves at the wrists. Flori is said to have perished at the hands of her jealous husband who had returned home unexpectedly from serving in the English Civil Wars. Eager to surprise her, he crept quietly into the farmhouse and up the narrow stairs. At their bedroom door he gently lifted the latch and stepped in to the room only to discover Flori in the arms of another man. A scuffle broke out between the two men, whereupon her lover fled leaving Flori to her fate. Consumed with rage, her husband put his hands about her throat and squeezed the life from her. He then carried her lifeless corpse down the stairs and out into the night where he dispatched her body down a well.
The story does not end there though. As the weeks and months rolled by, inquisitive village folk grew more and more suspicious of Flori’s absence. Awkward questions were mounting, questions aimed at Flori’s husband, questions enquiring as to her whereabouts, questions that became more difficult to answer and the truth more difficult to conceal. Eventually, filled with guilt and remorse, Flori’s husband confessed to his crimes, he was later found guilty and hanged.
Flori ghost is most frequently sighted in the ladies toilets (most inconvenient) or occasionally standing close to the well, or gliding silently across the upper floors from room to room. It is said that you have a better chance of encountering Flori if you have beard. Apparently she is not too keen on men with facial hair and will set the chandelier swaying in the restaurant immediately above the table where the bearded gentleman is seated.
An investigation was launched by a team of divers in the early 1990's to try and establish if any human remains could be found at the bottom of the well. Although a thorough search was undertaken nothing was ever found. It is fair to point out though, that the investigation was hampered by several large boulders which obscured the very bottom of the well. The investigation was deemed inconclusive and the whereabouts of Flori’s body remains a mystery. Could her remains lie beneath the boulders I wonder ?
The well, now inside the pub in the aptly named Well Room, is a focal point. The top is covered by tempered glass and the 86ft shaft is bathed in an eerie green glow.