Living With Ghosts - My True Recollections of Being The Landlady Of A Haunted Pub
The public house I became landlady of on the 28th of February 1986. Was situated in Bognor Regis. West Sussex, England .
A Brief History Of The town
For Centuries Bognor had been a sleepy hamlet on the south coast of England and the inhabitants eeked out a living by subsistance farming, fishing and smuggling !!!
Things started to change when a wealthy hat maker from London named Richard Hotham, came to improve his health by bathing in the sea in 1784. Seawater was thought to be the miracle cure in those days for all kinds of ill´s and it became very fashionable amongst the wealthy to adjurn to the coast during summertime to bathe.
No doubt with an eye to making his fortune even greater and seeing how other resorts on the South coast were beginning to prosper. Richard Hotham started buying up land and property in and around Bognor in a bid to change it from a sleepy hamlet where smuggling was rife in to a fashionable resort capable of attracting the rich and noble.
Royalty did indeed come. Prince George came to spend a month with his mistress in 1796. Princess Charlotte also came to spend summers in Bognor. Daughter of George the third.
Queen Victoria also came as a child and is reported to have had " happy memories of the place".
No head of state ever visited to take the seawater cures in Hothams time. But following his death wealthy people did continue to visit the rather genteel and quiet resort, and the town grew slowly over the years.
Bognor was once described as " A quiet little place of eminent respectibility and unimpeachable sanitary record" .
Bognor attained a rather unfortunate reputation when it was reported that King George V uttered the fateful words " Bugger Bognor " as he drew his last breath. However this is a Myth and he was more likely to have said it as he was leaving the town where he had been recuperating from an illness, and was petitioned for the right to add Regis to the name, in honour of his visit.
He obviously recanted as Regis was added and so Bognor Regis was born.
Bognor Regis Pier
The Claremont Public House..Our New Home
A hotel called the Claremont was built on west street in 1826 and closed in 1887.Therefore it´s very likely an alehouse must have existed on the ajoining Scott street as far back as that. So the Claremont public house which was erected in 1910 ,on that same spot had a lot of history built into it´s foundations, and I think a story it was trying to tell !!
I can´t say I was exactly ecstatic to be taking on a pub. But it had been my new husbands dream and he was so sure we could make a success of it. I had worked in pubs and the catering and hospitality industry for years and knew it was hard work, long hours and a lot of commitment. We also had 2 daughters living with us at the time. Sarah was 6 on the day we moved in and Wendy was 14. I felt I had enough on my plate working part time in someone else´s pub and looking after my family without taking on a pub of our own and I didn´t want the kids to suffer because they had both parents working really long hours. But it´s what he wanted and so it´s what we did.
The day we moved in and took over the tenancy was horrendous. We got friends in to run the bar for us the first day while Martyn went to court to get his beer, wine and spirits selling licence. And I stayed in the pub making lunch for all the brewery people and trying to sort removal men out by indicating what I wanted where, then starting to unpack and make beds up so at least the kids and Martyn and I had somewhere to sleep that first night
Of course our living accommodation was on the first floor, above the public areas, which made it rather awkward for the removal men to get the big furniture up the stairs and around a bend until one of them realised that part of the wooden framework on the bannister could in fact be removed. As they were taking this section of the bannister off I overheard the older of the two men explaining to his younger partner that this was so coffins could be easily brought up and down without dropping them and dead bodies falling out all over the place. I remembered those rather disquieting words every time I polished that section of bannister the whole time we lived in the pub.
The Long Corridor
The pub was a big building and our accommodation spacious, but very cold in the winter. We had no central heating.
To access the living quarters we had of course the staircase which led onto a long passage. This passageway had a bend in it and a step down into what appeared to be an older part of the building and was situated to the left at the top of the stairs.The bathroom a bedroom and the toilet where all along this passage. Our 3 bedrooms and the living room were situated off the passage which led from the top of the stairs to the front of the building, when you turned right. There was also a landing at the top of the staircase and a big storage cupboard there which was all fairly dark wood panneling.
It was quite a treck to the loo when you needed to go in the middle of the night, and cold to boot in the winter. I have never liked putting a light on when I wake up and need the loo as it wakes me up too much, so I make my way in the dark , running my hand along the wall to ensure I don´t bump into anything.
Without exception making my way along this corridor in the dark every night never failed to give me the creeps, especially when I neared the top of the stairs. So much so I could actually feel those horrible chills and prickling sensation you get at the back of your neck when you are frightened.
I really had to steel myself before doing a run to the loo and back I can tell you, and it wasn´t just because it was so cold for half the year.
Will You Please Just Ring The Bell
During quiet days in the week I used to catch up on my cleaning upstairs. Of course I was still on call If someone wanted food or Martyn needed a hand in the bar. If I was needed Martyn just used to come up and let me know, but this got a bit much and so he installed a bell.
One day I was merrily hoovering the carpet when a shadow caught my attention, it seemed to flash past me. We had windows at both ends of this passageway and I thought the shadow was caused by Martyn coming up to let me know I was needed, and I was just about to say " why didn´t you ring the bell" but when I turned round there was no one there. Rather puzzled by this I shook my head a few times and got on with the hoovering. This thing with the shadows got to be such a regular occurrence that in the end I stopped turning round, but always´s said " Oh you´re here again are you"
Mum- Someone Comes Into My Room At Night And Sits By My Bed
Our youngest daughter Sarah told me one night as I was tucking her into bed that a woman came and sat by the right side of her bed at night when it was dark, and also a dog sometimes on the other side. Now even though I have always believed in ghosts I do know that children can have vivid imaginations and dreams that seem real too. But I was alarmed when I heard this, especially as I too felt uncomfortable on the landing at night. Of course I didn´t want her to be frightened of going to bed, so I told her she must have been asleep and dreamt it. She was insistent that she hadn´t and went on to describe what could only have been a lady wearing Edwardian or Victorian dress. Once again I could feel my hair starting to stand on end, but had to try to convince my little girl that there was no need to be scared it would have just been a dream and to go to sleep.
I wasn´t as aware of the spirit world in those days and didn´t know that young children can often see spirits, and that´s sometimes the explanation of invisible friends. But what else could I do but try to reassure her.
There is no doubt that there was a coldness about our other daughters bedroom. I didn´t often set foot in there as she was a typically messy teenager and to avoid fall out´s it was better that I didn´t see too much of the chaos.
One year she left to go on a student exchange to Germany and while she was away I decided to give the room a really good clean.
I felt uncomfortable the whole time I was in there, and it wasn´t just due to the state of how it had been left. It felt very cold and unwelcome and to be honest I couldn´t wait to get out of it.
When Wendy arrived back from Germany she had bought herself a cuckoo clock as a souvenir. She was understandably tired when she got home as they had traveled by coach there and back. Never the less she wanted to put the clock up right away.
20 minutes after going upstairs she came rushing down again in a right old state. She was crying and obviously frightened. She said she had put the clock on the wall and gone for a bath, but when she got back to her room the clock was laying in the middle of the floor and she felt something was in the room.
I wanted to run screaming to the bar to get Martyn to go up and check everything was alright, but he would have been busy and I didn´t want to scare Wendy more than she already was. All I could do was tell her not to be silly, there was probably a very reasonable explanation, go upstairs with her, take a deep but silent breath, and go into that room. Let me tell you that´s the last thing I fancied, but I had to grit my teeth and do it.
Of course there was nothing visibly in there, and I could see by the way Wendy had fixed it to the wall with a nail stuck into a lump of blutac, that it would have been really easy for the clock to end up on the floor. But that didn´t explain the cold and unwelcome feeling in that room. And obviously there was more frightening Wendy than finding her souvenir on the floor.
Sunday Night Off
It was really hard work running a pub. On Sundays I used to cook roast dinners as the daily special, and the normal menu was available too. After that I didn´t open the kitchen at night. Martyn was happy to run the bar on his own or with staff helping out , so this gave me a chance to go to bed early and it was my treat to watch telly in bed and relax.
One particular Sunday I left Martyn and one of our bar staff to hold the fort and went off to bed. Jock and Martyn stayed up a couple of hours after closing time chatting and having a drink. They were great friends.
The next morning when I got up and met with Jock in the kitchen, he asked what I had been doing, wondering about the night before. I told him I hadn´t been wondering about anywhere but he wouldn´t believe a word of it.
Something was obviously bothering Jock and he wasn´t about to tell me what it was. So then I had to go and ask Martyn what was going on and he told me that the previous night they had both seen someone, a woman, pass the door into the bar and dissapear into the childrens room. Jock thought they had locked someone in when the pub was closed up for the night and went to investigate.There was no one there.
Martyn knew that what they had seen wasn´t anyone still living and simply told Jock he had just seen a ghost. What Jock said back is unprintable and he didn´t believe a word. So he searched every inch of the public areas and also our private areas on the ground floor and came to the conclusion that it had either been me or perhaps Wendy that he´d seen. It wasn´t either of us , but Jock wouldn´t believe this.
To this day he´s probably still in deniel over what he saw with his very own Glaswegian eyes.
Getting Paler By the Minute
Of course running a pub, you do get to meet a lot of lovely people , and some of them become more than just customers.
One Sunday lunchtime after closing , some friends stayed on to chat and have a drink on us. During the conversation one guy asked what it was like upstairs, so we took the party up for a look round. At the end of the sighseeing tour we stood in the passageway talking, just outside Wendy´s bedroom door. Which was situated across from the top of the staircase by the way.
As we chatted away I saw the guy who had asked what it was like upstairs, had gone very very quiet indeed, and didn´t look very happy.
We all trooped down shortly afterwards and I asked him if he was ok, knowing full well he had felt something.
His answer was, " There´s a very strange feeling up there, it felt very cold when we stood talking".
But then I already knew that.
Please Take A Moment To Answer These Questions
Have you ever seen a ghost or felt a prescence ?
The Last Word
Quite a few other odd things happened during our time as landlord and landlady in the Claremont. And I´m sure Martyn saw a few things he never told me about.
We also heard that the previous tenants had felt or seen things, and they had lived there with no harm for a long time.
Please don´t think us cruel for keeping the kids there. They didn´t seem unduly bothered by the occasional happening, well except for Wendys return from Germany.
No one ever felt we must get out of there as quick as possible, and the kids didn´t mind being upstairs without us or going to bed. We just all got on with life. Living with ghosts really wasn´t so much of a problem.
But there was one thing for sure..Spirits were not only something we served from behind the bar in our Pub, No- sir- ee !!
Exact location of the Claremont public house. Bognor Regis. West Sussex.
A Little About bac2basics - Thanks - And A Dedication
Hi I am bac2basics and write on many different topics here on Hubpages.Com. As well as supernatural and spiritual happenings I write recipes and gardening hints and tips, health problems and cures, travalogues and places I love to visit and the happy memories that go with them, life and wildlife in Spain, money saving ideas and frugal living suggestions amongst other topics. Really I just write about what inspires me at the time and I hope you will enjoy reading some of my other work :)
VERY MANY THANKS TO ALL THOSE WHO VOTED THIS UP AND ENABLED ME TO WIN THE WEEKLY HUB NUGGET CONTEST WITH THIS HUB..I THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH.
Your comments and votes are really appreciated so please do leave some if you wish..Thank you
I dedicate this story to our daughter Wendy Shields who died very suddenly and far too young in 2012 . Rest in peace love xx
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