I was born in Bishop Aukland in County Durham. It’s the land of whippet’s, leek growing competitions and pubs so it’s hardly surprising that the most haunted places are pubs.
I know of two pubs in Bishop with histories of paranormal phenomena. One is – as you rightly guessed – The Sportsman, which is more than 400 years old.
Phenomena include disembodied voices in the bar and a white, shimmering figure, also in the bar, glasses and bottles moving themselves around, cellar pumps coming suddenly to life, and on one occasion, a middle-aged woman’s handbag wrenched away by unseen hands. One of the previous landlords, Peter Creamer – a very down-to-earth individual – witnessed numerous happenings, as did his bar staff.
Part of the cellar dates back to Henry VIII’s time – a period of violent persecution when the Roman Catholic churches and monasteries were largely destroyed – and it is said to be the final part of a tunnel that connected (or connects) with Auckland Castle. Who knows what went on, there?
The Grand Hotel also has a cellar ghost which likes – or liked – to turn the juke-box on at full volume and play the same tune even over and over – even when the power was off.
Don’t know what the song was. That was in the early 1990s. Whether it’s still there, I don’t know.
Then there’s the East Deanery at South Church, around 700 years old, once a religious community, and in recent times, converted to a pub-restaurant thanks to the vision and tireless work of the owner, Jimmy Greenwood. The Deanery is haunted – according to a medium who visited the place several years ago – by the ghost of a small child. I know this is true, having been there and experienced the presence for myself – in broad daylight and minus alcohol. As you probably know, the Deanery is a private residence, again.
On the outskirts of Bishop, the Toronto Inn and the Red Lion at Bitchburn have well-documented histories of haunting.
The Red Lion’s around 400 years old, and a Cromwellian soldier is said to take an occasional stroll through the restaurant.
As for the Bay Horse, I haven’t heard anything as yet but as it’s one of the oldest pubs in County Durham, anything’s possible.
Information from BISHOPAUKLANDHISTORY.CO.UK
My childhood was spent in County Durhan and North Yorkshire. Both of these counties are steeped in History and I was scared by tales of ghosts from a very early age.
History and the Ghosts were such a large part of my life, so it was hardly surprising that I started to see them myself. Everyone thought it was a child’s active imagination, until I was in my twenties. They took me more seriously when I got older.
I have written a couple of short stories about my ghostly experiences. They are currently being re-edited for release later this year. Those books are “Guy at the Bar”, which is set in Brompton-on-Swale, North Yorkshire, and “Girl on the Beach” set in Blackpool.
My first full length novel “Dead of July” is available on Amazon.
In this novel my Ghosts are in Dortmund, Germany, and they are almost the death of me.
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