The Ancient Ram Inn can be found within the village of Wotton-under-Edge in Gloucestershire. Many people believe that it is one of the most haunted buildings in the UK, if not the world. The inn was built in the year 1145, when William FitzRobert, heir to the then Lord Berkeley, had served as the first recorded Rector of Wotton. Connected with the church, the original building was larger than its present form and had been home to the rector. Priests also used the inn as a keeping house for the slaves and workers who helped construct the St. Mary Church. In 1930 it was sold to Maurice de Bathe and has changed hands several more times since.
The site stands today as the oldest building in Wotton-under-Edge, including among its various historical artefacts the oldest wooden window frame in Britain; as well as the earliest surviving board for the game Nine Men’s Morris, which appears carved into a stone inglenook dated to 1540.
However, the building began slipping into decline, supposedly it had already earned a reputation for hauntings, though few accounts seem to survive pre-John Humphries. By 1965 it was losing custom; the wooden beams had fallen prey to an infestation of Death Watch beetle while the dry stone walling was crumbling fast. The building was listed for demolition as part of a council plan to widen the road but it was saved when John, a former train driver, purchased the property from Whitbread Brewery in 1968 for a sum of £2,600.
It is widely believed that the redirecting of water on the Ancient Ram property caused a portal for dark energy to open up. John Humphries attested to the spectres which have made the house their home. During John’s first night, he claimed to have been grabbed by the arm by a demonic force and dragged from the bed across the room.
John found evidence of Devil worship and ritual sacrifice too. He discovered the skeletal remains of children just under the staircase. Broken daggers were also found within the skeletons. There have been many sightings of previous owners of the inn seen residing and sitting together with the patrons of today’s time.
John has lived in the building since 1968, and since then reports having been attacked on almost countless occasions by the evil forces with which he shares his home. Aside from the usual slew of poltergeist reports – things going bump in the night – most notable is his claim of a succubus that lives in the Ancient Ram, and which often torments visitors during their sleep.
During the Middle Ages, incubi and succubi were often blamed as the cause of erotic dreams – some even welcomed them – and on his deathbed, Pope Sylvester II confessed to having had relations with a succubus that had used her influence in helping him to achieve rank and power within the church. And here in a little old house in rural Gloucestershire, the story has appeared once again, in the form of a succubus accused of routinely sexually abusing an old man.
THE MEN’S KITCHEN
The main attraction of the Men’s Kitchen is the ancient grave. In June 1997 a local ghost hunting group were given permission to tear up parts of the concrete floor while searching for the entrance to a sealed cellar. Instead, they found a grave containing the remains of a woman and child, buried along with broken iron shards. The pieces were analysed by Bristol Museum, who conceded that the signs may point to ritual sacrifice using an iron dagger. The ghost hunters, meanwhile, suffered a car crash on their way back home.
Coincidence or just tiredness?
THE MAYFLOWER BARN
On the ground floor, close by the roadside, a large and largely undeveloped space of the Ancient Ram is formed of the former stables of the property: the Mayflower Barn. Some accounts have described this as a makeshift living room or seating area.
When the television program Most Haunted visited the Ancient Ram, the team’s resident spirit medium – Derek Acorah – was possessed by an entity that told the team to visit the barn; and in this space one presenter was allegedly set upon by an invisible force that threw him to the floor before beating and kicking him.
THE WITCH’S ROOM
In the 16th century, the was a woman in the town of Wotton believed to be a witch. Fleeing trial, she briefly took refuge inside the Ancient Ram before being recaptured and burnt at the stake. Today she still haunts that room where she had hidden, appearing at the bedside to anyone foolhardy enough to spend the night.
THE BISHOP’S ROOM
The stories surrounding this particular room are many. It is supposed to be the most haunted part of the building, and during the Ram’s time as a functioning inn many guests would refuse to stay in the room whilst others unwittingly checked into the Bishop’s Room, only to run out screaming in the middle of the night. There were reports of furniture flying about the room on its own, and one time a medium was thrown down the corridor on attempting to open the door.
Other sightings in the room include spectral monks, as well as the plumber who came face-to-face with the ghost of a mounted centurion. A cavalier has been seen, appearing by the dressing table before walking across the room. There are reports of a young woman hanging from the ceiling beams, a shepherd with his dog, and the disembodied screams of a man who at some point, supposedly, was killed by having his head thrust into the fireplace. Those who spent the night here would sometimes tell of a presence that climbed into bed alongside them, before pinning them down and interfering with them.
THE WEAVERS’ ATTIC
An area formerly used by weavers now divided between a bedroom and an adjacent open space. John’s daughter lived up here at one stage along with her partner and they would often hear the sounds of something heavy being dragged across the floor. Visitors to the building have echoed the same story. According to some, the Weavers’ Attic is haunted by the ghost of an innkeeper’s daughter: murdered here in the loft sometime in the 1500s, and named by one visiting medium as ‘Elizabeth.’
John Humphries passed away on the 12th December 2017 aged 89. He is now at peace, I hope, in Wotton Cemetery.