Tuesday, 18 August 2009
The Old Bell Hotel
The mysterious Grey Lady. Could this be the ghost that many people claim to have seen? (apologies for the quality of the picture)
The Old Bell Hotel, which is believed to be the oldest hotel in England, stands adjacent to the partly ruined abbey at Malmesbury. Many of the mysterious goings on in the hotel seem to occur in the east wing, which coincidentally, was built on part of the former abbey churchyard. It is believed there are several sarcophagi concealed beneath the bar, although no excavation work has ever been carried out to confirm this story.
There has been an inn of some description occupying this site as far back as 1220. It is not surprising, taking all things into account, that the Old Bell has built up quite a haunted reputation.
Hanging on one of the period stone walls in the restaurant, is a portrait of a woman dressed in grey. Is it possible that the figure in the painting could be that of the ‘Lady in Grey’ who is said to haunt the James Ody Room. Many residents and staff have claimed to have seen her. She is often described as looking very forlorn and melancholy and is said to glide silently through the room. When residents have mentioned their encounter, you can imagine their surprise when staff show them the portrait hanging in the restaurant and ask the question “is this who you saw?“. The Grey Lady’s identity is a mystery but some say she was the victim of an unhappy and forced marriage which took place at the abbey. Why this should cause her to haunt the hotel is anybody’s guess and why her portrait (if it is the same woman) should hang in the hotel is another mystery.
There is a spooky tale regarding a ritual, whereby if the words ‘Grey Lady’ are repeated out loud three times within the James Ody Room, she will appear. I must confess to not having tried that one yet.
Residents of The Danvers Room have reported seeing objects mysteriously levitate of their own accord, only to be hurled against a wall. Other residents have claimed that their bedclothes have been pulled off them in the dead of night.
One of the most baffling accounts took place outside and inside The Foe Room. Residents returning to their room, were somewhat surprised when they were unable to gain access. Although the door could be unlocked, it could only be opened a fraction. Staff were called but they too failed to budge the door. With no other course of action left, a ladder was fetched and propped up outside and beneath the bedroom window. A member of staff climbed the ladder up to the window, which was securely fastened, the only way in was to smash the glass. Once inside, the staff member was stunned to see that a heavy wooden wardrobe had been manoeuvred against the door, nobody else was in the room.
The night staff have also reported odd sounds and cold spots near the salon bar during their nightly rounds.
The hotel is a grand establishment, retaining many of its original features. The hotel staff are more than happy to accommodate ghost hunters and paranormal researchers, should you decide to investigate. Good Luck!