Easter took this guy and his ghoul to Britain’s alleged most haunted city of York. Naturally my Hothouse Flowers, drink was consumed, but not just anywhere. No, we had to down a pint or two of Theakstons Old Peculiar in the most haunted city’s most haunted pub, the Golden Fleece (16 Pavement, York).
Dating back to at least 1503 when it got a mention in the city archives, this little boozer is a maze of crooked staircases, sloping floors and wonky walls. It even has its own resident skeleton known as Saul Goodfellow. Saul can often be found propping up the bar, but don’t expect him to dig his hands in his pocket and buy you a drink. He has a friend outside who seems to have got stuck climbing over the wall into the Beer Garden.
All kinds of ghostly goings on have been reported by guests staying in the Fleece’s bedrooms (£50 to £100 a night if you are feeling brave) and the pub received a five cross rating from TV’s Most Haunted in 2005, when the team encountered a spectre called Edward.
So, who are the spooks who wander the crooked corridors and creep up the creaky steps? The most recent would appear to be the pub’s 1980s landlord who, with a mass of hair down his back, has been seen visiting the cellar where he likes to leave the light on. Then there is Geoff Monroe, a Canadian Airman who threw himself out of a top floor window in 1945. In his RCAF uniform, Geoff has a habit of waking up guests staying in his room with a touch of his icy fingers.
Should you be enjoying a pint in the Merchant’s Bar and suddenly feel yourself fighting for breath it’s because of a former landlord who hanged himself from a hook in the ceiling. In a powdered wig and red coat with a flintlock pistol in his hand, the Merchant’s Bar is also home to One-Eyed-Jack. Joining Jack in the Merchant’s Bar are a grumpy old man who sulks in an alcove and another ghostly Jack, this time a young boy run down by a brewer’s dray in the late Victorian period.
The ghost of a little girl inhabits the kitchen, a woman in black can be found on the second floor and then there is the fishmonger’s wife whose neck was snapped by a violent husband. Roman Legionnaires reputedly tramp up and down the remains of a roman road that goes through the pub’s cellars that were also used to store the corpses of the victims the local hangman waiting to be claimed by their families. Some fell prey to William ‘Mutton’ Curry a former sheep rustler, whose prodigious intake of the Fleece’s gin often interfered with his ability to carry out a clean hanging. One of his ‘clients’ was Mary Bateman, the infamous Yorkshire witch; perhaps she cursed him to join the Fleece’s cast of spooks too.
Incidentally, my deadly blooms, this practice was not uncommon in 17th and 18th century boozers, Dick Turpin’s corpse was stored in York’s Blue Boar (Castlegate, York) after his execution at Knavesmire, York’s equivalent to Tyburn, in 1739.
The ghost that everyone will see is the cat emerging from the wall outside, part of the York Cat Trail, it can be interpreted as a good omen as ghostly cats are reputed to only appear at happy places.
We had a very enjoyable lunch with drinks in the Golden Fleece which at £46 for four was quite good value. The Yorkshire sausage baguette with Stilton was exceptionally fine. We didn’t stay overnight though. The only spirits that disturbed our sleep in the Travelodge that night, with groaning voices and clumping footsteps, were the Bacardi and vodka consumed by stag and hen parties!
Review by Simon Ball
Connect with Simon: @RealShipsCook or here.