Experiments with Ouija boards, table tipping and calling out to the ghosts of an ancient, rundown pub in Gloucestershire on a Haunted Happenings ghost hunting event.
While most people were enjoying the bank holiday sunshine with a BBQ or drinks in the garden, I was hauled up in one of the oldest and allegedly most haunted buildings in the United Kingdom where I was on the search for the ghosts
of its past.
The event was organised by Haunted Happenings and was probably the best public ghost hunting event I've been a part of. I spent the night, along with 15 other guests, at the Ancient Ram Inn, a former pub located in Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire.
The History Of The Ancient Ram Inn
Despite the building's incredible history, being Grade II listed and the antiquity it boasts, the Cotswold stone and timber framed building isn't found on any tourist maps and attracts few sightseers, perhaps this is due to unsettling and odd character the Ram Inn presents.
The inn started its life in 1145 under the ownership of the local parish and was used as a priest's house and a meeting place which was at the heart of the community. The Ram housed the mason that built nearby St. Mary's Church.
Later in its life it moved in to private hands. It was part of the village's thriving wool trade in the middle ages and became a popular inn that played host to many drinkers, both local and those travelling through - including highwaymen.
It was one of the oldest pub's in the UK when the last pint was pulled there in 1965. Three years later John Humphries bought the inn from the brewery for £2,600.
It's said that the building stands on a Pagan burial ground, a site of witchcraft, human sacrifices and burials. In fact if you believe the stories, the inn has a pretty grim past in general. There have been two murders in the property.
One killing took place on the stairs around 300 years ago, the other victim was a former innkeeper named Elizabeth who's believed to have been hanged in the attic by a gang of highwaymen after she overheard them plotting in the bar. It's said that she was buried under the building, this is possibly backed up by the discovery of a female skeleton that was recently excavated from the ground beneath the former bar area.
Is The Ancient Ram Inn Haunted?
The Ancient Ram Inn's reputation as one of the most haunted buildings in the country has been fuelled by its countless appearances in television shows, newspaper reports and paranormal
blogs. It's been investigated by hundreds of paranormal investigation teams and played host to ghost hunting shows like 'Ghost Adventures' and most notably 'Most Haunted'.
It was during Yvette Fielding and her team's time here in 2004 that 'Most Haunted' crew member, Stuart Torevell had one of his most terrifying experiences. Towards the end of the investigation, Stuart fell to the floor and screamed for help saying "I can't move." Derek said "I felt him being walloped, he was hit fully in the chest and ribs."
Stuart said afterwards "I'd been punched in the chest, I'd been winded. And as I went down, I got punched again then. So, I got winded twice. I was like a young kid in a playground getting picked on and beaten up. When I went down I felt like I was being kick constantly in the stomach." The Ram Inn remains the one location that Stuart won't return to.
The Ram has a huge list of paranormal activity to its name. Is this because the building is so haunted or simply down to the sheer volume of paranormal investigators that have spent time at the location looking for it?
Some of the most commonly reported activity includes highly localised cold spots, temperature drops and unexplained icy blasts of air. There's also activity in the form of light anomalies seen with the naked eye and caught on camera. Doors are said to slam on their own, footsteps are frequently heard, furniture is heard sliding around and mysterious knocking is witnessed.
Sudden pools of water form from seemingly nowhere, and unpleasant odours are noted. Visitors claim to have been thrown out of chairs and felt unseen icy hands grabbing them, as well as a general feeling of unease, sickness and stabbing pains in the chest or back.
The supernatural phenomena at the Ram Inn is also said to present itself as strange mists, shadowy figures and ghostly apparitions, including the ghost of the murdered Elizabeth. She's often described as the Grey Lady. Others have even reported being physically dragged from their bed in the night by an unseen force.
The inn is also said to be haunted by a demonic entity that disturbs their victims while they sleep in order to seduce and have their wicked way with them. An incubus is a male demon that preys on women, while a succubus is its female counterpart. There's a bit of confusion as to whether the demon at the Ram is an incubus or a succubus. The truth seems to be that there's either both, or the demon at the inn switches depending on the gender of its victim.
Rev John Yates, a former Bishop of Gloucester, once unsuccessfully tried to exorcise the pub. He said after that the inn was "the most evil place I have ever had the misfortune to visit."
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The Ghost Hunt
We were welcomed into the bizarre and totally unique building by our hosts for the evening, Mark and Michelle and taken into a part of the building that was once the inn's stables at ground level and a hay barn on the first floor. Part of the barn is now a small bathroom and a loft bedroom, where the building's former owner, John, slept until he passed away in December 2017.
The loft is accessible via a small, steep staircase in the kitchen below, next to this is a fascinating, cluttered living room, with its low oak beams, genuine antique furniture and quirky decor. This was our base room for the evening.
Here Mark and Michelle told us a little about the property, being sure not to tell us too much and influence our investigation. They also found out a little about us. Unusually the majority of the guests on the event were sceptical, albeit open-minded sceptics. In fact, they were one of the most open and enthusiastic groups I've ever investigated with.
Then our hosts ran through the usual introduction and health and safety talk, which they got through quickly and before long we'd began our tour of the inn. As a group we were walked through the property, stopping in each area and calling out to any spirits that might be present, encouraging them to give us a sign they were with us.
Mark and Michelle were really good at getting everyone to call out, ensuring first timers felt comfortable and encouraging everyone to get involved - after all, calling out can feel a little odd to start with. I think this initial encouragement is really important for keeping the guests' engagement and energy levels up for the whole night.
This was a nice way to get a feel for the layout of the inn and to let guests decide which areas might be the most active and where to concentrate during vigils and experiments later in the night. Haunted Happenings are always open to letting guests shape how the evening pans out and which areas are visited.
The final stop on the tour was the Bishop's Room, the part of the inn which is said to be the most haunted. While in the room we learnt that it's advised to knock three times with the shepherd's crook that's propped up outside the door and call out "can I come in" before entering. Failure to do this can apparently result in you being thrown out of the room.
The room is said to be haunted by the ghost of a cavalier, who is usually spotted in the corner of the room before walking through the room. The vision of a young woman hanging from the ceiling has also been seen here, as well as a phantom dog that has been seen and heard growling.
The Bishop's Room is the part of the inn where the incubus and succubus have been reported, and there's also the ghost of a monk, possibly two, that haunt visitors here.
While we were in this room one of the guests reported a sensation that felt like she was being poked in the side. This happened a few more times and eventually Mark suggested the girl and her friend swapped places to see if it continued. Interestingly, the girl wasn't poked again, but her friend who took her place was.
The Bishop's Room was starting to prove to be quite active, but while most of the guests remained there, I was given the chance to hold a vigil in the only part of the inn we hadn't visited as part of the tour, the attic.
Only four people are allowed into the attic at any one time. Me and the friend I went to the event with were invited to go up first, but everyone was given their chance throughout the night. We had to duck our heads as we climbed the ancient, creaky stairs to the attic.
The atmospheric roof space consists of a small bedroom on wooden boards in a semi-converted attic - the wooden beams and roofing felt is visible, a small and old-looking window looks out in the direction of the village. Adjacent to the bedroom is an area known as the Weavers' Attic as it was formerly used during the village's time as a producer of wool, this is where Elizabeth is said to have been murdered by the highwaymen.
The paranormal activity in the attic includes heavy furniture being dragged across the floor, and disembodied heavy-booted footsteps, as well as poltergeist-like activity and unexplained knocks and odours.
We spent about 20 minutes in the attic and although you think of attics as being eerie places, the Ram's attic was actually one of the quietest parts of the building. We didn't hear, see or feel anything during our time there and other guests that spent time there said there was little to report.
The Beaufort Room & Clock Room
After a short break the guests were then split up into two teams of eight. My team were taken back upstairs to try some table tipping. The idea of this is that participants lightly place their fingers on the edge of the table and ask any spirits present to rock, move and even spin the table.
We were put into smaller groups of four and put in different rooms with a small, rickety table. We started out in the small landing at the top of the stairs known as the Clock Room. It's here that the reflection of a face has been photographed in the glass front of a grandfather clock.
I never get on very well with table tipping. The two girls we were paired up with were very enthusiastic and although our table rocked a little, we didn't get any real movement in the Clock Room despite putting a lot of effort in.
We then swapped places and continued our attempt at table tipping in the Beaufort Room, which is also referred to as the Witch's Room. This room is known for its animal spirit, which takes the form of a black cat - presumably it belonged to the witch the room is named after. She's said to have taken refuge in the inn during the 16th century after fleeing her trial for witchcraft and is now said to appear by the bed herself.
The ghost of Elizabeth is also seen in this room. She walks from this room, across the landing, down the stairs and vanishes in the former bar where she is said to have been buried.
We were much more successful with our table tipping efforts in the Beaufort Room. It was far from the energetic spinning and dancing with a table that I've seen others engaged in, but it was my best attempt at table tipping yet.
In fact the four of us got on so well that we came back later in our free time. This is when guests can visit any part of the property they like and conduct their own paranormal experiments. We had another go at table tipping and it was a little bizarre.
At one point we were in the dark. We'd placed our hands palms-up so that we could tell if anyone was gripping or lifting the table. While in this position the table suddenly lifted up and fell again. It's a shame we couldn't see what had happened in the darkness, because we all felt like our side of the table had lifted up. Could the whole table have risen?
One of the girls in our group stopped the experiment at this point and demanded the lights be put back on. I was a bit dumbstruck and simply asked "who lifted the table?" Apparently, no one did.
The Men's Kitchen
In our next vigil we went to the Men's Kitchen. Why the area is given this name I don't know, but it's the part of the building that was once used as a bar and is the final resting place of Elizabeth after she met her untimely death.
Not only is her ghost said to have been seen in the bar, but also a whole list of other ghostly goings on, including cold spots, the sound of clawing where the old front door used to be, and many have reported feeling a negative, oppressive energy.
Again in our same teams, we used this space to try to contact the spirits of the inn using a Ouija board. We placed our fingers lightly on the planchette and started to encourage any of the house's spirits to interact with us.
The boards sprung to life pretty quickly and started answering our questions. When we asked the spirit its name, eerily it spelt out the name Elizabeth, and answered "yes" to the question "did you work here?"
The board was also able to give us the surname of one of the girl's around the board, a fact that two of us didn't know. Because the board was so responsive I decided to take the opportunity to try a Ouija board
experiment of my own, something I've been thinking about for a while. The Haunted Happenings team are always pretty happy to accommodate things like this.
The Mayflower Barn
Towards the end of the night our group held vigils near the Mayflower Barn. This is the part of the building where 'Most Haunted
's' Stuart had his terrifying encounter with a malevolent entity.
For this vigil we did some glass divination in the reception room outside the barn. This is pretty similar to a Ouija board and involved placing a finger on a glass on a table. We encouraged the spirit to communicate and answer our questions by using our energy to slide the glass towards a green light to indicate "yes" and a red light to indicate "no".
Once again this proved to be very responsive and one of the guests we were teamed up with reported feeling dizzy and had to sit out of the vigil for a while. After he returned to the board the energy of the spirit seemed to have depleted and moved on, we got little more interaction.
The two groups were then reunited for one final vigil in the barn itself. Even with the time fast approaching 3am, all the guests were still enthusiastic and were getting involved in calling out one last time. Sadly, it seemed the spirits weren't so awake and things were starting to quieten down.
This was probably my best night ghost hunting on a public event. The six hours flew by and there was seemingly activity during every single vigil in every part of the inn.
Nothing stood out as being undeniable proof of the existence of the paranormal, in fact a lot of phenomenon experienced throughout the night I'd classify as nothing more than very good examples of psychological principles - interesting in their own right.
However, the Ancient Ram Inn did provide enough interest and mystery to lead me to the conclusion that it is a great location for a ghost hunt. Given the chance I would definitely go back and I would highly recommend it. If you only ever try paranormal investigation once, this is the place to do it.
I'd like to say a big thanks to Mark and Michelle for guiding us throughout the night and all of the guests, who made the night fun by being great sports and getting involved.
You can book your own ghost hunt at the Ancient Ram Inn with Haunted Happenings, find out more here.