And so it was that the ghost enthusiast, aka me, Emma, decided it was time to get out from behind my desk and go on a proper ghost hunt. The truth is, I’ve always been pretty scared of going out at night to try and witness some actual paranormal activity. In fact, I am so frightened of ghosts I even ‘vet’ anywhere I plan to stay overnight. No old castles for me. No sir! Ironic, I know, considering my love of strange and unusual happenings. I much prefer my investigating to go on in daylight. However, it was time to put my big girl pants on and book a trip.
Hmmm, where should I go?
So, bearing in mind how frightening I find the whole idea, I decided the best thing to do would be to book one of the most haunted and scary locations in the UK. I chose The Ancient Ram Inn, Wotton-under-Edge. My long-suffering brother Simon was roped into the trip and two friends, Rash and Steve. Friday 13th May seemed like a suitably unlucky day, ramping up to a full moon. As soon as I pressed ‘Book here,’ I wondered what the blob I had let myself in for.
It’s Friday the 13th. Time to go ghosthunting!
We headed off in good time with a planned stop at the golden arches (you know which fast food joint I mean, I’m sure) for sustenance. It was going to be a long, long night! En route, we came across three road closures sending us to the backwaters of Wiltshire and then Gloucester. Enough to send my blood pressure soaring and I questioned, ‘Is someone trying to stop us from getting there?’
Our trip was booked through one of the most prominent paranormal groups in the UK, Haunted Happenings. We felt we needed a bit of guidance. How we might try to communicate with the ghosties of The Ancient Ram Inn was taken off our hands. Haunted Happenings and their two lovely hosts had it covered. It was effectively an organised ghost hunting trip with various activities throughout the night. Any experienced paranormal investigator out there may roll their eyes at this. Still, for us newbies, it was the perfect solution. That being said, we all went in with our sceptical believer hats on. We all wanted to find some real evidence.
The Ancient Ram Inn, Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire
Before I get into the night’s activities, I want to include a little bit about the venue for those who have never heard of it. Many reports and websites (even Wikipedia) claim the building on the site dates back to 1145. But, this is actually not true, although I guess there could have possibly been some sort of construction on the land before that.
Look up the Historic England listing and you will see it actually dates back to the last decade of the fifteenth century and is in fact ‘Late medieval, remodelled in mid/late C16.’ Alterations have been made over the centuries but it started life as a medieval house. Not quite what is claimed elsewhere and it certainly is at odds with many of the stories relating to the building. I will relay the stories to you but please do bear the date of the house in mind!
I was enlighted from the blog by Triskel Heritage and his Medieval Myth Busting series. It was very interesting and if you want more information on the building do hop over and have a read. The summary from this blog is quoted here:
It is widely claimed that the Ancient Ram Inn dates to the twelfth century, was built as a stonemason’s lodge or a vicarage, and was constructed on the site of a pagan burial ground.
The evidence presented here indicates that the standing building dates to 1495-96 and was built as a domestic house with connections to the wool trade. By the early sixteenth century it may have become a church house. Latterly it was a public house and is now run as a paranormal events venue.
There does not seem to be any evidence to back up claims for a twelfth century date, use as a mason’s lodge or vicarage, and the archaeological data for a pagan cemetery on the site is absent.
Anyway, I just wanted to put this out there as it would be dishonest of me to present information that I now know is definitely untrue.
What we do know is that, in 1968 it was sold into private ownership to John Humphries, which is when the reports of ghosts and paranormal activity seemed to begin. The rumour of it being built upon an old pagan burial site appears to have come from a diviner. A few of the ‘ghost’ stories don’t seem to quite add up. There are reports of monks being sighted, yet there was never a monastery or nunnery in the village or anywhere nearby.
Ghosts and phenomena at The Ancient Ram Inn
There are so many spirits and instances of paranormal activity that people have witnessed or sensed in The Ancient Ram Inn. I am just going to list them:
- Ghostly Priests
- A Cavalier
- Apparitions, including that of a girl, found hanging in the attic
- Cold spots
- Being thrown up the stairs and across a room by unseen hands
- Orbs and strange light anomalies
- A succubus
- Dogs growling and babies crying
- Screaming, thought to be a man who died after having his head thrust into the fire
- A witch sheltering in the inn before she was found and taken away to be burnt at the stake
- Phantom shepherd and his dog
- Dragging furniture noises and footsteps
- John, the old owner, is said to turn up
If you like stone-built dusty old rabbit warrens, it’s an amazing building. The place is chilly. As far as energy efficiency goes, I’d say it is probably off the scale useless! Downstairs is a kitchen and lounge, which are apparently less active and serve as a base for the night. Then there is a bar area, another room and a large barn. There are three bedrooms upstairs with a hall, called The Witches Room, The Bishops Room and a nursery type room. Above that is the attic which is partially inaccessible and partially a bedroom/ storage area. The stairs are hazardous and I swear people from centuries past must have had tiny feet. We all had to walk up sideways, looking out for the notorious ‘nutcracker’ wooden beam at the top.
As a building, it’s pretty creepy. It’s a bit musty and a bit old-fashioned. There are many knick-knacks around the place and, much to my disturbance, lots of taxidermies. Religious artefacts, crosses and the like are dotted around. There’s even a mummified cat on display. And in one room, I think the Men’s Bar, is the unearthed grave of a woman and two children. It is believed they may have been murdered as a Pagan sacrifice. Whatever sadly happened to them certainly plays into the dark history and ‘oldness’ of the building.
The evening begins
After a pep talk we spent some time exploring the building and acquainting ourselves with each room whilst the lights were on. The investigation started in the barn with a vigil. A spirit box, which was essentially a speaker I think, gave some intelligent responses and the light up cat toys went off many times, sometimes on request. There was also laughing coming through after specific questions and there were several voices. One seemed to have an American accent. Simon said he could see a figure by the door, watching the group through the whole vigil. We were instructed to take photos in groups of three in quick succession. Our hosts explained you may take a series of photos and on two, you would see nothing and on the third photo, something would show up that wouldn’t have been there. Whilst in this barn, others experienced fleeting cold spots and breezes. It was necessary to remember that this is a drafty old barn with a large, open fireplace.
Have a look at this series of photos. This was where Simon felt someone quietly watching us on the whole first vigil. On the third photo we discussed whether we could see an arm and possibly a face. What do you think?
VOX in the carpark of The Ancient Ram Inn
The group had a break and split off to get a cuppa, fresh air or a toilet break. We stood outside of the building and played around with this VOX app. I suspect apps like these may be pre-programmed to spit out random words and a lot of what they say is incomprehensible. Nonetheless, when we asked how many spirits were with us in the car park, it clearly answered, ‘Five.’
I asked if they had worked at the inn and we got the response, ‘Farrier.’
‘Did you have to work really hard here?’ I asked.
‘Not too bad.’ The VOX responded.
Make of it what you will! I’m not sure if we were speaking to spirits or not.
We’d certainly had a busy start to the evening and the action continued. Time spent in the loft with an Ouija board was uneventful. One thing did happen. As we were all fussing around getting seated, I saw a black shadow with a head shape float along a wall and in front of the window at the far end of the attic room by the bed. There was no one in that room. I wasn’t involved with the board as I think you shouldn’t mess with things you don’t know about. I did stay and observe. We all noticed we were getting hot, cold, hot, and sweaty again. That was strange. And it wasn’t just me and my hormones. Others experienced it too.
Next up was the table tipping activity. I just don’t buy it. We were told we needed to whip up the energy in the room to assist the table in moving. It felt uncomfortable for the whole group of eight to be constantly asking the table to move. It felt almost foolish! Yes, the table moved or tipped. Can objects move just from the tremendous amount of concentration we put into the task? Does telekinesis work, or did the tables move due to spirit activity? Or was it down to a crafty member of the group? This session ground to a dead halt. Rash and I were both struggling to join in with the energetic shouting so we’re probably to blame for the sudden flat atmosphere. After the event we both acknowledged how funny we found the shouting. It sounded like a massive sex party.’Harder, harder. Faster, faster!’ I’ll never be able to do table tipping again without laughing.
This took place in the notorious Bishops Room. Supposedly the home of the succubus and the room where the cavalier is witnessed, as well as dancing lights. It was in this room that the strangest event of the night took place. There was a particular chair in the corner. A member of our little group sat in the chair and in her own words. ‘The suppressed feeling I felt was so intense it literally frightened me. I struggled to get my breath and had to leave the room and didn’t have the nerve to return after that experience.’
The poor lady had to be led away to recover, so her husband took his place in the seat. It was literally two minutes later when he began to gag and choke and left the room to go straight to the bathroom, thinking he would actually be sick. It was pretty alarming! What was affecting the people sitting in that chair? A third member of our group, Steve, sat there too. He felt his chest was being compressed but it wasn’t so severe he needed to leave the room.
Random cat balls lit up on command in this room and strange words appeared on the Alice Box. Again, I’m not sure whether these words were related but some were relevant to what we asked. The Alice Box said ‘schoolmaster.’ Simon commented on how much he hated school and the box said ‘angry.’ We felt the schoolmaster wasn’t too happy about that.
Following the funny turns, the other group went into The Bishop’s Room as we headed off for a dowsing and sensory deprivation experiment. We didn’t see them as we switched over. As I said, this building has no insulation. You can hear some other conversations going on in different rooms at times. As we sat in The Witch’s Room, we could listen to another person making choking and vomiting sounds. We all acknowledged this and wondered if they had sat in the same chair? It turns out that two members in that group both had similar experiences to us. Something did not want the living sitting in that chair on that particular night. What or who, I couldn’t say. I found it hard to explain because it had happened to five different people in two separate groups. We were only aware of what had happened to each other after the event. Weird!
Time to explore
We were given an hour to explore and spend time in a room of choice. Given that there were sixteen people in the building at the time, the chances of hearing anything supernatural were slim. You could hear people talking and moving about the house. Some of the cat toys went off randomly and Simon had spent time in The Bishops Room and was sure something was ruffling or tickling the back of his head. Lots of people caught orbs on their cameras during this free time.
The final vigil at The Ancient Ram Inn
It must have been around 2.30pm when the final vigil took place in the barn. By then our little group were all getting tired. Hoods were up, hands squashed into pockets, energy low. At the other end of the barn the more energetic members sat around and got responses from the speaker and cat toys. Me, I was just thinking about my bed at this point!
Am I still a sceptical believer?
Weelllll, that’s a topic for another day. This blog is long enough already! But, in short, yes. I still believe in something. What it is, I still don’t know. That being said, if there are ghosts in this world, I am pretty sure a few of them live at The Ancient Ram Inn.
At 3am the night concluded and the group members drifted off to their cars ready to head for home and to bed. We were no exceptions. There was little chatting. Bed was calling us all!
The following day Steve, Simon, Rash and I chatted over the events of the night on WhatsApp. We all agreed we were totally worn out, but losing a night of sleep was worth it. We tried to de-bunk much of what we saw, sensed and heard. There was a lot we just couldn’t explain.
Nothing in particular happened to me personally throughout the night, except the feelings of hot and cold in a couple of places. Maybe that’s down to my protective crystals I had wedged in my pockets.
I didn’t feel scared at any point and I put that down to being with lots of other people. Would I spend a night there alone? Absolutely not! I think the place would take on a whole other feeling if you were on your own.
We all agreed the whole trip was a success. Simon had not come home followed by a demon, (yes, that was his biggest fear) and I had managed to stay awake until 5.30am. A result! Rash was still sceptical about ghosts but said he would need to go on another ghost hunt to be sure. Steve is really keen to go again, but then that was his fifth visit to The Ancient Ram Inn. He must like the place.
How Haunted Examine The Ancient Ram Inn in greater detail
I was pretty pleased when Rob from How Haunted Podcast got in touch with me about an upcoming episode he was researching – The Ancient Ram Inn! He invited me to chat with him about my night there and it was great fun to talk through my experience with a likeminded fellow ghost enthusiast.
I’m really enjoying How Haunted by the way! Especially the Chillingham Castle and Edinburgh Vaults episodes. If you’re looking for a new podcast to enjoy, try it out.
I’d like to take this chance to say a thank you to my brother Simon for schleping over from the other side of Brighton for the weekend. A big thank you to Rash and Steve too- if they’d hadn’t agreed to come I don’t think I would have ever gone either. Cheers to Michelle and Mark from the Manchester area who joined up with us on the night.
A big thank you to Haunted Happenings for an excellent night. If you ever want to go on an organised ghost tour, I recommend you go with them.
And lastly, a big thank you to The Ancient Ram Inn and all your secrets and spirits. It was a great experience and a night I will never forget.
Have you ever visited The Ancient Ram Inn? Did you have any strange experiences?
Please get in touch in the comments section below and let us know what happened. Or contact me here!
Video from The Ancient Ram Inn
Most Haunted Episode at The Ancient Ram Inn
Reference and further reading
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