It seems that every country on Earth has a place that's the site of immense supernatural activity, places like the Bermuda Triangle, the Winchester House, the French Catacombs, to name but a few. We often think of haunted places as sprawling mansions, subterranean vaults, or dank and crumbling castles. But what if I told you that the most haunted place in the United Kingdom was a quaint and cozy little inn?
Today, we'll be discussing the sordid history and frightening incidents involving the Ancient Ram Inn.
Nearly a Millenia of the Strange
The roots of the Ancient Ram Inn go deep. The inn's construction dates back to the year 1145 AD when it was built in Wotton-under-Edge, a town located in the Stroud district of Gloucestershire England. It was originally home to the clergy of the nearby St Mary's Church, which was constructed around the same time.
But the land under the church just might be the origin of the supernatural forces that reside within. Before it was built, the area was under the control of local pagans, believers of a multitude of gods who would use that particular plot of land for religious ceremonies and rituals. Supernatural and historical researchers believe what is now known as the Ancient Ram Inn is susceptible to paranormal activity because it was built on land sacred to pagans.
Also, the structures located at the crux of two particularly powerful ley lines. Ley lines are essentially roads and trails that connect the spiritual energy of specific landmarks to others, infusing them with that supernatural power. And in the case of the Ancient Ram inn, it has a few ley lines that connect to none other than Stonehenge, another pagan landmark and site of uncanny events that may very well fuel the occurrences at the inn.
The Bishop's Room
The Ancient Ram Inn is so haunted that ghosts and spirits are spread throughout the entire establishment. The most haunted room though is referred to as the Bishop's Room, a room so frightening and home to such phantasmal terror that it has also been deemed the most haunted room in the entire country.
It is called the Bishop's Room due to an old custom. Back when the building was owned by St Mary's Church, they were required to have a special room designated as the lodging for any visiting bishop. But since then, it's been one of the most unholy places in all of the Ancient Ram Inn. Witnesses have claimed to have heard screaming ring out through the night and furniture floating on its own. In one case, a psychic medium was flung across the corridor just trying to open the door.
The actual spirit said to haunt this particular room is a revolving cast of characters from throughout history. A plumber staying in the room while working reported seeing a Roman centurion phase through the wall on a spectral steed. Others have seen a cavalier ride through the room and chase them in fright.
The Bishop's Room has hosted a woman hung from the rafters, the spirit of a shepherd and his dog, a murder victim who was flung face-first into the fireplace, and a demonic succubus said to hunt for victims through the entire building. Ironically, a bishop did stay in and attempt to exercise the evil inside the room in modern times. John Yates, the former bishop of Gloucestershire, spent a night in the room and tried to expel the supernatural forces within. But he failed. He would later say that it was, quote,
the evilest place I have ever had the misfortune to visit.
The terror of the spirits visited upon any witness unfortunate enough to encounter them was so powerful the guests have reportedly fled by jumping out the first story window.
A Witch's Final Resting Place
Another room of particular note is the Witch's Room. Legend has it that in the 16th century a local woman was accused of witchcraft and was put on trial by the authorities. However, she escaped and attempted to hide out inside the inn, staying in one room. She was eventually tracked down and recaptured. Her trial concluded with her conviction and the grim sentence of burning at the stake.
Now it's said her ghost haunts the room that was her final place of refuge before she was executed. The witch's apparition is known to visit guests as they sleep and awaken them in horror.
The Witch's Room is also decorated in an unexpected fashion with numerous toys and stuffed animals. The reason for this child-like decor is Caroline Humphries, the daughter of the innkeeper, and the current owner, John Humphries. Caroline reported hearing the cries of children coming from the room in the night. So she placed toys throughout the room in an attempt to soothe and comfort the spirits of these children.
Another permanent guest of the Ancient Ram Inn is perhaps its most insidious. A sex demon, or succubus, is said to stalk the halls of the inn with lustful intent. A succubus searches for men and women to have intercourse with and suck their souls.
Other accounts allege the demon is capable of becoming its male counterpart, an incubus, and hunting for female victims. Over the decades, guests have reported an uninvited presence visiting them, sitting on their chests, removing their bedsheets and clothes, and even groping them. The demon has been compared to the Germanic mare, an evil spirit that would lay upon sleeping victims in order to steal their breath. The mare is likely the root of the term "nightmare" because the spirit would also cause victims to suffer night terrors and horrible dreams.
Some of the more disturbing accounts come from the innkeeper himself, John Humphries, who would usually sleep on a sofa on the lower floor of the building. He claims to have been assaulted by the sultry spirit several times and says he since has started to carry a Bible with him.
No Vacancy of Ghosts
The Ancient Ram Inn is notorious for the sheer amount of ghosts and spirits it contains, boasting some 20 different specters that have taken up residence there throughout the nearly thousand-year-old history.
Paranormal investigators believe the very ground upon which it was built to be a sort of supernatural magnet due to its location being at the pinpoint of ley lines and on sacred pagan land. They theorize that the site collects the spirits of those who die in the establishment while also attracting nearby ghosts and entities.
Some of these spirits are known by name, such as Rosie, the daughter of a former innkeeper who was found murdered in the attic of the inn. Now, she haunts the site of her murder.
Another noted ghostly guest is known only as Elizabeth, supposedly a patron who was murdered while staying at the inn and who was buried in the basement. She's been spotted most often at the inn's bar.
One of the more curious spirits to lurk through the inn isn't even human. There have been sightings of a sinister black cat throughout the years striding in and out of the hallways and from room to room. Some tellings of the legend hold that the black cat was the familiar, or spiritual animal companion, of the witch who was burned at the stake and that the cat had stayed at the end with the witch before being burned to death along with its mistress. Now the witch and black cat haunt the same establishment for all eternity.
Of course, these are only the named and most easily identifiable spirits. Dozens more have been spotted over time in what has become an increasingly crowded haunted house.
The Grave in the Basement
One of the more disturbing stories to come out of the Ancient Ram Inn doesn't even concern ghosts. In 1997, John Humphries was approached by some ghost hunters from the nearby town of Swindon. They believe there was a secret chamber or subbasement under the Ancient Ram Inn and wanted permission to excavate the basement in order to find it.
John gave his permission, and the operation proceeded. And while the ghost hunters' theory proved incorrect, they did make a grim discovery-- the buried skeletons of a woman and a child. The bones were uncovered in the foundation of the building, along with shards of iron. On their way back to Swindon, the ghost hunters team suffered a car crash after digging up their find.
The remains and iron were sent to the Bristol Museum for analysis. The museum came to the conclusion that they were most likely mother and child and used in some form of ritualistic sacrifice with the use of an iron dagger or blade and buried at the site.
Considering the land's history as a site of a pagan ritual dating back centuries, it seemed like the likely scenario. John Humphries had his suspicions that that particular part of the inn was haunted recalling when he first stayed inside the inn, Humphries recounts that he slept on a sofa over the ancient grave and that very night was yanked out of his sheets by an invisible force. The spot has since been left exposed in the establishment, the soil laid bare and embedded with a cross and shovel. Surrounding the ancient grave are several bottles, jugs, a faux skull, and Egyptian-styled ornaments. Above, a stuffed crow hangs on a wire, as though in mid-flight.
A Horrifying Work Hazard
Innkeeper John Humphries has managed to maintain the inn despite its many supernatural guests and terrors. But at one time, he broke his leg and had trouble moving on his own. The local city government decided to send a caretaker to watch over him as he made his recovery. But they ran into an unprecedented problem.
The caretakers were too frightened to enter the premises. The stories and reports from the Ancient Ram Inn were so severe that any caretaker sent to stay there in order to help John refused to stay after dark.
Caroline Humphries, John's daughter, said she had to pay for an additional caretaker, as none would enter alone, even during the day. Caroline seemed to understand their fear. She refused to stay at the Ancient Ram Inn herself Caroline said she witnessed, via security footage, several caretakers evacuating the inn screaming during that period.
Today, the Ancient Ram Inn is more of a historical landmark and supernatural tourist destination than an actual lodging establishment. John Humphries, the innkeeper, is currently the sole caretaker and inhabitant-- the sole living inhabited, that is. If you happen to be in the area, would you dare enter what could be the most haunted building in all of England?