Monday, 22 June 2009

The Muddy Duck - Monkton Farleigh

The Muddy Duck

Haunted lane adjacent to the inn

Mysterious key hangs behind the bar (Image credit Bozzer)

This beautiful 17th century inn near Bath, formerly The Kings Arms, is said to have been built on the site of an 11th century Cluniac priory.

At the time of this post, the inn was managed by Simon Blagden and Vince Hanley. Since taking over the inn, Simon and Vince have spent a lot of time lovingly restoring and refurbishing the interior, although great care has been taken by both to retain many of its original features. Mr. Hanley openly admits that since he and Mr. Blagden took over the running of the pub, they have become quite accustom to the very current and very active ghostly activity, which has earned the pub the title of
'Most Haunted Inn in Wiltshire'.

One of the more frequent disturbances takes place above the main bar, where heavy footsteps are often heard walking the length of the upper floor and ending by a window, at which point the sound of a woman sobbing has been heard.

Hauntings are not just confined to the interior of the pub. During the Victorian era, a local woman was heading home late one night in her carriage, when her horse took fright and bolted. Terrified, the woman desperately tried to regain control of her horse but tragedy was to follow. Nearing the inn at great speed, her carriage clipped a wall and overturned killing her outright. Her untimely and abrupt exit from this life may account for claims by the locals, who say they have heard the ghostly screams of a woman in the lane and the thunder of horses hooves.

The ghost of a monk walks from the pub to a nearby mine, angrily searching, so it's thought, for justice for a crime that befell him during the monastic occupation of the original site. Another monk, or maybe the same one, is fond of playing tricks with the bar staff which include moving things about and switching lights on and off.

The Black Monk
The oldest part of the King’s Arms is believed to have been built by the monks in 1090, as somewhere they could officiate the administration of the Farleigh estate. A priory, built c1150, was dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene and stood about ¼ mile from the King’s Arms. Today, a Grade I listed Tudor Manor House occupies the site of where the priory once stood. Some of the material from the priory went to construct the house. The cellars are original to the priory, as are two partly restored 13th century mullion windows. An adjoining shed contains 12th and 13th century carved fragments including a coffin lid, a carved cross and sepulcher slabs. To the east of the house are two stone coffins thought to be part of the priory chapel. A holy well, blessed by the monks, now enclosed by a 13th century stone shelter; named the Monk’s Conduit, still supplies fresh spring water to the Manor and some of the cottages in the village.

It is not certain how The Black Monk met his demise, for he was discovered by his brethren quite dead and slumped over paperwork in what is now the inn’s main bar. On examination no foul play was suspected. His body was moved and later buried. His ghost appears reluctant to rest though, for his hooded figure has been spotted walking slowly from the inn, to the Monk’s Conduit via the Manor where he passes through a door and disappears.

Ghost Miner
The Kings Arms was often used to conduct hearings and inquiries. A hearing was held in the early 19th century following the death of a miner under suspicious circumstances. The presiding magistrate was unconvinced that the evidence presented by one eyewitness miner was a factual account of his colleague’s demise. Following the hearing, the miner who had given evidence suddenly died. It is thought that it is his ghost that walks from the mines to the inn door where he disappears. Could it be, that even in death his ghost is cursed for eternity to deliver the truth of what happened on that day to hearing long since disbanded.  

During construction work in the 1990’s to open up a fireplace in one of the bars, two mysterious gentlemen called in to warn a barmaid that, “no good will come of your work here”. Having issued their warning, the two gentlemen abruptly disappeared leaving the barmaid somewhat shocked and stunned. Renovations continued on the fireplace, regardless of the threat. A little later, whilst knocking through a wall adjacent to the fireplace, a mysterious key was found. The key was inserted in every lock in the building but failed to fit any of them. This strange and tantalizing artifact now hangs behind one of the bars.

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