The haunted Ancient Ram Inn… is it really haunted, and if so, who are her ghosts?
This well-known Inn is a historic and famously haunted building in Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, England. Its history dates back to the 12th century, and is often regarded as one of the most haunted locations in the United Kingdom. Kag and I have visited this location before, but it was difficult to investigate properly because we were on a tour then. Now, we had the opportunity to return; this time, it would be only the two of us. Were we nervous? You bet!
Brief History of the Haunted Ancient Ram Inn
The Ancient Ram Inn was said to have been around since the 12th Century in a smaller form than now; however, the earliest deeds date from 1350. It was originally intended as a private residence. It served as a home for the local clergy and their workers, especially when the nearby church, St Mary’s, was being built. Over the centuries, it underwent several renovations and changes in ownership. With each change in ownership often came a change in usage, too. The building was added to over time, with the present front-facing part of the building being constructed in the 16th century. The oldest part of the pub is thought to be the Mayflower Barn, attached to the Ancient Ram Inn, which dates back to Saxon times.
Over its life, it has served various purposes, including as a public house, courthouse and bed-and-breakfast, but it continues today to be known for its ghostly reputation. A deed from 1820 shows it first being listed as the Ram Inn. But its use as an inn probably was much earlier, with it being listed in 1724 as Horse Pool House. It finally closed its doors as a pub in 1965.
After this, John Humphries bought it, and this former owner and custodian of the Inn made significant efforts to preserve its historic character and document the paranormal phenomena experienced on the property. He opened it as a B&B for a while, as part of the agreement of buying the property would be that it was never used again as a pub as local breweries were worried about competition. They even filled in the cellars to ensure this would not happen. His dedication, however, brought national attention to the Inn being haunted, which now has the reputation of being the most haunted place in the U.K.
Death and Ghosts
No sooner had John Humphries moved into his newly acquired property he started to have strange and terrifying experiences. It wasn’t just John who was experiencing this; his family, especially his daughter Caroline, and even guests staying in their B&B would share his experiences.
The main ones reported by John were what he believed to be sexual demons, known as incubus and its counterpart a succubus. He claimed they violently attacked him numerous times, although it is now believed that it was one and the same, depending on how it presented to its intended victim. One wonders if his interpretation of the activity being demons was due to his strong Christian faith as he was trained to be a Baptist Minister and often carried a bible with him. Either way, the rumour of the Inn’s demons endures to this day.
Other ghosts have been reported over time, including a woman who was supposedly murdered in the 16th Century and said to be buried under the floor, a tall figure with a hood who is frequently seen in what was once the bar area, a Roman soldier and even a witch. Not only have human ghosts been reported, but also animal ghosts. People often report a cat rubbing around their legs, again in the Bishop’s Room. It’s interesting, as John did find a mummified cat hidden in the chimney along with a bible in that room. Dead cats were often used to ward off evil and protect homes. This cat and bible are now on display in the Ancient Ram Inn.
Others to experience activity, demonic or not, were the guests staying at the B&B. Some were reported to have fled during the night, especially if staying in the Bishop’s room. Poltergeist activity is commonplace, with heavy objects being picked up and thrown. Caroline was witness to such an occasion, with a cupboard doing this.
The most chilling report, though, came from Rev. John Yates, Former Bishop of Gloucester and who the Bishop’s Room is named after. He had come to the house to try and exorcise the pub, only to leave and eventually tell the media that the haunted Ancient Ram Inn was “the most evil place I have ever had the misfortune to visit”.
But why would it be haunted? One of the most enduring legends associated with the Ancient Ram Inn is that it was built on the site of an ancient pagan burial ground. According to local folklore, the Inn is also situated at a crossroads of several ley lines, one of which runs through Stonehenge. Ley lines are believed to be areas of high spiritual energy. These two factors combined are believed to have enhanced spiritual activity there. John Humphries claimed to have found the human remains of a child that had been stabbed, as if in a ritualistic way. We haven’t found any historical evidence of this to date, but the supposed empty grave still remains, and people do put flowers and toys around it.
Visitors have reported a wide range of supernatural occurrences, including ghostly apparitions, unexplained noises, and objects moving on their own. Many believe that the restless spirits of those buried in the supposed pagan burial ground are the ones that still haunt the Inn today.
The Ancient Ram Inn stands as a historic and enigmatic location, known for its rich history and the persistent reports of ghostly encounters. It remains a popular destination for paranormal enthusiasts and curious visitors. It has been featured in numerous television shows and documentaries exploring the world of the supernatural.
Sadly, one last death was John Humphries himself, who passed away in December 2017. His daughter Caroline still continues to keep this fascinating piece of history alive while John rests in peace overlooking his beloved Inn, from the cemetery close by.
The Paranormal Investigation
Kag and I had visited before, back in 2019. However, we had booked a tour, and although it was enjoyable, we could not spend time investigating properly due to the contamination of any evidence captured. We do remember one very freaky moment, though. We had alone time, where guests moved to different parts of the building and sat quietly in the dark. We chose the empty grave. We decided to sing to any children who may still be there. As we did, we both heard a scraping noise coming from the grave area before Kag reported seeing a small shadow by the doorway. She asked if I could see it. My reply? “No, I have my eyes tightly closed”. In my defence, it felt a little edgy in there at that moment! One other incident involved the Mayflower Barn when the group we were with investigated there. I was standing at the door, and the whole time, it felt like somebody was standing behind me, which was extremely unnerving.
Moving forward to 2023, we finally got the opportunity to revisit and this time have the building to ourselves for the night. I admit to being at first a little nervous, but as we spent time setting up our first area, which was the Mayflower Barn, that nervousness soon ebbed away.
We settled ourselves and asked if there was anybody there, would they let us know by lighting up the lights around the room? The flux (proximity device), was the first to trigger. We had explained to whoever was there that we would see green as a ‘yes’ and red as a ‘no’. Was somebody confirming they were there? Following this, we had a couple more bits of equipment light up, all with different environmental triggers. One time, we asked if they had heard of Australia and the equipment lit up as if directly answering once more.
The most curious thing captured on the video, and I am loathed to mention it here, was when what I assumed was a dust orb floated down and seemingly hit an EMF tripwire and triggered it. I have played back the video many times to try and debunk it, but after it comes in line with the top of the lights, and the lights trigger, it is no longer viewable. It should still be visible if close to the lens, passing by that line of lights in the distance. I don’t know. I don’t believe in orbs; as a photographer, I know dust and debris are the main cause. I can recreate any orb you give me. But… I mention this one only because it remains a curiosity, nothing more, and I respect that others have a different belief system from mine. After this, equipment continued to trigger in a well-timed manner to our questions.
We did an E.V.P. (electronic voice phenomena), but the only one we may have captured, on checking back, was probably birds in the background.
We tried the ghostbox (broken radio scanning through bandwidth and white noise), which came out with a couple of words, including a word that cannot be repeated here but should never come out of a radio station! There is only so long you can listen to the noise of the box, so we went to Estes instead. This is where we put the headphones into the ghostbox so the listener can’t hear the questions, therefore taking any bias out of what is being heard. I was the wearer of the headphones and moved to the other side of the room. It started to feel more uncomfortable, and part way through, I felt very cold. Interestingly, Kag was warm until I returned and sat beside her. Suddenly, the chill followed me, as she could feel it too.
We moved to the grave in the front bar and settled in front of it. We tried several experiments, including E.V.P., but we didn’t get much. We did the Estes once more, but again, only minimum responses.
We tried the witch’s room but with minimum success, although Kag, when doing the Estes out in the Hallway, did feel uncomfortable, as if somebody was standing behind her. She also felt a tingling on her back pocket as if somebody was tickling it. Strange, since GhostTube had just come out with ‘It’s outside’ just as I heard some noises in the hallway to the side of me.
Next, we tried the most active room, the Bishops Room. But again, any paranormal activity eluded us. We did ask on an E.V.P. session if it enjoyed scaring people, and we did appear to get a whispered “Yeah” as a response.
With that, we decided to pack up. Does the haunted Ancient Ram Inn really have ghosts? We did have some curious responses, especially in the Mayflower Barn. It did, indeed, at times, feel very creepy in the building, and although nothing major was happening, it certainly felt like it could at any point. Did we find anything demonic… well we obviously weren’t those sexual demons type, as at no time did we feel anything evil or threatening while we were visiting. But… maybe next time we will get lucky!
We would like to thank the Ancient Ram Inn for allowing us this visit. We highly recommend you visit yourself, even if just to immerse yourself in the history of this building.
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Historic Photo: Ancient Ram Inn
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Written by Alison Oborn
Author, Paranormal Investigator, Tour Operator