The Red Lion Avebury – is this Britain’s Most Haunted Pub?
There are plenty of pubs in Britain that claim to be haunted, but Avebury’s Red Lion in Wiltshire is pretty unique, it’s set inside the largest prehistoric stone circle in Europe.
The Red Lion’s most famous ghost is Florrie. Back in the dark days of the English Civil War (1642-1641), Florrie’s husband went off to do his bit. When he came back he discovered Florrie was having a bit of illicit fun with a another man, so he murdered them and dropped their bodies down the village well. Over time the pub expanded over the well and now Florrie is said to emerge from time to time and throw salt and pepper pots about the bar. She’s also been spotted in the ladies’ loo, well a girl has to go sometimes!
The glassed over well can be seen in the pub’s dining room, unless of course you turn up on the day its booked for a wedding like we did!
Aside from Florrie, there is the ghost of a former owner who has been spotted with a knife in his hand. He is believed to have been murdered by a gang of criminals he had been hiding in the cellar. There’s gratitude for you. Then there are the spirits of two children who cower in the corner of one of the bedrooms, oblivious to the spirit of the old lady in the same room.
There is also the ghostly horse drawn carriage that has been seen pulling up outside the pub. Bar staff have reported the sound of clattering hooves in the courtyard on more than one occasion, but when we visited the only evidence we saw of any spirits was above the bar.
The Red Lion has Greene King IPA and a couple of guest ales on tap and does extremely good pub lunches. Given its location in one of Europe’s oldest religious sites it has a very eclectic clientele, from coach loads of sightseeing tourists to bike gangs and pagan priests.
The stone circle at Avebury is thought to date back to 2600 BCE and consists of a large henge (which is the bank and ditch), a large stone circle and two smaller inner smaller stone circles. Much of the stone was robbed out by medieval builders and early Christians who tried to destroy it and rid their world of its wicked pagan ways, but the enthusiastic amateur archaeologist Alexander Keiller (of the Keiller Dundee marmalade dynasty) who excavated the site had a fair stab at reconstructing what was left of it. It’s still a pretty impressive site.
Should you find yourself in the area, try to see the nearby West Kennet Long Barrow too. It’s a prehistoric chambered tomb where around 50 people were buried, not much to look at from the outside, but genuinely eerie from within. West Kennet Long Barrow can be accessed from a lay by on the A4, which is also handy for viewing the prehistoric mound of Silbury Hill.
The biggest stone circle in Europe, a prehistoric tomb and a haunted pub with real ale, what more could you possibly want from a day out?
Feature by Simon Ball
Connect with Simon: @RealShipsCook or here