If you’re a fan of ghosts and the supernatural then the story of the Ram Inn is an irresistible one, if a little terrifying. Built on the site of an ancient pagan burial ground where ritual sacrifices were supposedly carried out, the Ram Inn dates from the 12th century and once served as a lodging house for priests, before settling into its final incarnation as a pub and private home. Over the years there have been reports of numerous hauntings inside the inn and the atmosphere within the building’s dark low-ceilinged rooms has been described as “oppressive”, “dark” and “awful”.
The pub’s sole inhabitant now is the rather eccentric – but remarkably stout-hearted – John Humphries, who has learnt to make peace with the building’s spectral residents, despite being attacked on his very first night in the inn by a demon (supposedly a succubus), which seized him bodily and flung him out of his bed. It is John’s fervent desire that the pub be preserved for posterity, not torn down or condemned. It would certainly be a shame to lose the ghostly legacy of the Ram Inn, despite the fact that it seems cursed to lodge the spirits of many restless dead.
One of the most terrifying rooms in the Inn is, undoubtedly, the Bishop’s Room on the first floor of the building. When sleeping alone in the pub, late at night, John Humphries has heard a violent banging coming from the room, as if someone were inside trying to get out – although, of course, no one is there. Meanwhile, three paranormal investigators who spent time in the room saw the wattle-and-daub walls shake violently while they were inside, and spectral monks have been glimpsed walking across the room and vanishing through the wall where there used to be a door. The figure of a cavalier has also been seen, and lustful demons are said to inhabit the four walls as well. Hardly surprising, then, that anyone who walks into the Bishop’s Room is struck at once by the heavy, brooding atmosphere and the ominous sense of danger. John himself has devised a special ritual which he enacts before entering the room – taking a wooden crook he will bang on the door three times and ask “Is anybody in there?” If there is no answer, supposedly it is safe to enter.
Another of the pub’s spooky rooms is the one belonging to the Witch and her ghostly cat. Known, simply, as the Witch’s Room, it supposedly has a ley line running directly through it, which would probably account for many of the scary happenings, as ley lines are also called ‘corpse ways’ and are the paths that spirits use when they move from graveyard to graveyard. The witch herself appears by the bed of anyone brave enough to sleep in the room and there is a stain on the bed where her cat is said to mark its territory. The witch is not the only ghostly inhabitant of the room, however – a little girl has also been seen in there, and has been spotted by passers-by standing by the window gazing out through the thick glass and waving.
Another terrifying part of the inn is the Men’s Kitchen, where John slept on that first night when he was attacked by the succubus. An ancient grave was discovered in that very room, containing the bones of a woman and child interspersed with shards of a ceremonial dagger probably used to dispatch them both. A woman was also supposedly murdered by highwaymen in that room, many years ago, and electrical equipment often fails within those walls, batteries draining themselves of energy and going dead. Besides that, the atmosphere is cold and forbidding.
The pub is filled with many more haunts and strange phenomena, including orbs, ghostly faces, spectral dogs and other apparitions. John has heard footsteps and banging coming from upstairs when no one was there; people who have spent time in the pub have had to be exorcised afterwards, and unexplained mists have appeared on photographs taken inside the inn. Investigators have been pushed, patted, stroked and tugged at; objects have been thrown; and a woman who was standing in the kitchen, which supposedly lies on top of a well, felt a strange chill creeping up her legs, while diviners have reported two bodies and a wicked spirit dwelling in or below that room.
Of course there always skeptics who will try and find rational explanations for the events inside the pub. But whether you believe or not, it can’t be disputed that the Inn has earned its fame and the aura of whispered respect which surrounds it. The Ancient Ram is certainly a fascinating place, steeped in history, melancholy and darkness. Who knows what awful events have taken place within those old walls? For fans of spooks and the paranormal in general, it is definitely one of the best places in Britain to visit if you want to get up close and personal with the world of the dead. However, despite my own fascination with ghosts and hauntings, I know I personally wouldn’t go within half a mile of the place, as just watching it on the television made me want to sleep huddled up beneath the covers. It’s certainly not a location for the faint of heart and I take my proverbial hat off to John Humphries and wish him every success with his noble quest to save the spooky old pub for future generations to explore and enjoy…
Great British Ghosts Feature on the Ancient Ram Inn: