The country of England, with its long and very often turbulent and violent history, is a veritable treasure trove of haunted places. At times it seems that nearly every town or even street corner has its own tales of spooky ghostly phenomena, but some of these truly go the extra mile to launch themselves way out into the realms of true horror. One of the most haunted, and indeed most bizarre paranormal infused places in all of England is an unassuming little inn along a quiet little road in a quaint neighborhood, which has stood for a thousand years and is supposedly prowled by both ghosts and spiteful demonic forces.
The building now known as The Ancient Ram Inn is located amid the rolling hills of the Cotswolds, in Gloucestershire, England, in the quaint, quiet town of Wotton-under-Edge, and it has a history going back centuries, back into the mists of time to before there was even a structure or town here at all. The area where the building now lies is thought to have once been an ancient Pagan burial ground dating back to 3,000 BC, with plenty of archeological artifacts such as carvings and tools in the area to support this. Indeed, the town of Wotton itself is quite old, established since the Bronze Age. In 1145, the first Rector of Wotton, William FitzRobert, built the inn as a home for masons, slaves, and workers during the construction of the adjoining St. Mary Church, and later as housing for the local priest. It would come to pass that much of the town of Wotton would be razed to the ground by fire during King John’s rule, leaving only the Ram untouched, and so it has gone on to become the oldest standing building in Wotton to this day. In later years the Ancient Ram would be converted into an inn, and it would quickly accrue a reputation for spooky stories and for being spectacularly haunted.
The tales of supernatural weirdness are numerous when it comes to the Ancient Ram Inn, and it is not really hard to imagine when looking at the place. With its old warped exterior, crooked windows, creaky floors and timbers, cluttered interior, and general gloomy, musty atmosphere, it simply looks haunted, and by all accounts it is. One of the most well-known stories of a haunting tied to the Ram has to do with a witch who was supposedly burned at the stake here in the 16th century. According to the tale she originally escaped capture and hid out in the Ancient Ram Inn, before a lynch mob came for her and dragged her out into the street kicking and screaming to be burned right there in front of the building. The room where she hid would go on to be called “The Witch’s Room,” and is considered to be one of the most haunted rooms in the whole place. The witch’s ghost is said to still lurk here, and is supposedly very active, pushing visitors, throwing items, and sometimes releasing an unearthly wail.
Many of the supernatural elements of the Ancient Ram Inn were brought to public attention when former owner, the late John Humphries, bought the inn in 1968. At the time the historical building was abandoned and had fallen into disrepair, to the point where it had actually been slated for demolition. Humphries purchased it in a bid to save it from destruction and moved in to the dilapidated old building along with his wife and three children, after which they would quickly discover just how strange and haunted the property was. Going through the building John claimed to have found generous evidence of Devil worship and even human sacrifice, as well as the remains of bodies of children hidden under the stairs, and he says that on his very first night staying there he was attacked by a demonic force that grabbed him and dragged him across the floor. He also says that there was found an old well under the inn which had seemingly been used to dump bodies into and where several sets of human remains had been found.
The paranormal activity would steadily grow in intensity, whatever forces that resided there apparently not happy that someone had moved in. There was allegedly intense poltergeist activity and all manner of anomalous sounds, and this and all of the general creepiness of this place were enough that John’s wife would leave him and move out with their children to leave him alone with whatever dark forces were coiled within that old dank building. John would claim over the years to have been physically assaulted countless times by ghosts, demons, and strangest of all a type of spirit called a succubus, whichis sadi to feed on sexual energy. John has claimed that he has been repeatedly attacked and even raped by this insatiable succubus. According to Humphries, so potent are the demonic forces in the Ancient Ram Inn that he has almost been possessed on occasion, and that he is forced to carry a Bible and crucifix with him at all times to deter them. Apparently visitors to the Ancient Ram are not immune to these forces, with many reports of being accosted by unseen hands, and those who stay overnight claiming to have been assaulted in their sleep. There are even guests who have left here claiming to have been actually possessed by demons.
The Ancient Ram Inn has several areas that are said to be the focal point for most of the supernatural phenomena, mostly those places linked with some part of the inn’s dark history. Besides the Witch’s Room there is what is called the Bishop’s Room. When The Ancient Ram was an actual inn this was a room for guests to stay in, but few wanted to, as visitors were known to wake in the middle of the night to disembodied screaming or to have furniture fly across the room in front of their eyes. Here there is said to lurk a ghostly robed monk, a spectral Roman centurion on horseback, and a shepherd with a dog. The nefarious room is said to have been the location of a young woman’s suicide, and her body is sometimes supposedly seen hanging from the ceiling beams. The succubus is supposed to be the most active in this room, and will purportedly not hesitate to sexually assault those who sleep here. According to John Humphries several guests who slept in the room required exorcisms after their stay.
Another haunted location at the Ancient Ram Inn is what is called “The Weaver’s Attic.” It is a low ceiling-ed place full of wooden beams and rafters directly above the Bishop’s Room, and served as the room of John’s daughter when she lived there. The undeniably creepy room is plagued by the anomalous sound of something heavy being dragged across the floor, as well as a mist that congeals out of nowhere to float about. Supposedly the attic is haunted by the daughter of a previous innkeeper who was murdered here in the 1500s. Another tale is that when paranormal investigators from the Ghost Club visited here they were accosted by a spirit who tried to possess one of the crew, and it is a place few dare to go alone.
There is also an outbuilding on the property called The Mayflower Barn, where a particularly malicious and furious entity seems to reside. The presence here is often reported as a hulking shadow figure standing 7 feet tall, and is said to be very violent and eager to chase people away, with witnesses reporting being pushed to the floor, strangled by unseen hands, pinned against the wall, and even beaten and kicked by a spectral force in the barn. Whatever is residing here is extremely aggressive and angry, and not afraid to show it. When the TV program Most Haunted visited the barn one of the crew was apparently tossed about and punched by the entity, and another was reportedly shoved up against the wall, and it is all very harrowing indeed.
Considering its notoriety and intense concentration of hauntings, the Ancient Ram Inn has been featured heavily in the media and on paranormal TV shows such as Most Haunted, Ghost Adventures, and Great British Ghosts, and few seem to go away without experiencing something odd or terrifying. Indeed, the Ancient Ram Inn is routinely listed as one of Britain’s most haunted places, and it is all enough to make one wonder why this otherwise unassuming place should be such a magnet for these inexplicable forces. One idea is that the building is located on an intersection point of two “ley lines,” which are supposedly avenues of energy that course over the face of the earth and could explain the high amount of spiritual energy here. There is also the theory that it is caused by the fact that during construction of the original church two streams were redirected, which some believe opened up a portal of some sort.
Of course there is also a lot of skepticism aimed at the tales. One of the problems is that, while certainly having a rather dark history, a great amount of the spooky lore orbiting the Ancient Ram Inn has been relayed by John Humphries himself. There have been a lot of accusations that he was simply a clever conman doing it all for the money, as in his days of running tours of the house he would charge exorbitant amounts of money and weave tales of the property that have no way of being independently verified. This has all led to the distinct possibility that the legends permeating the inn are to at least some degree exaggerated or even totally fabricated. Regardless of whether it is really haunted or not it certainly looks the part, with the decor rather garishly gothic and spooky, including taxidermed animal heads, Ouija boards, and a hodgepodge of eerie or creepy objects stuffed in every room almost seemingly intentionally for the purpose of milking the most out of the inn’s paranormal reputation. Researcher Darmon Richter of the Bohemian Blog, who visited to investigate the inn for himself and even spent a night in one of the rooms, has said of it:
I heard nothing. No dragging noises from above, no growling dogs. I saw no phantom cavalier; no shimmering centurion emerged from the walls of the Bishop’s Room. I wasn’t raped nor beaten nor thrown along a corridor. To the best of my knowledge, I was not possessed. Perhaps it would be a strange thing, in light of all that, to say that I was disappointed by the experience… but still, it would have been nice to see something. I closed my eyes, and lay back against the pillow – under the watchful gaze of anonymous portrait figures, faded faces that lent an austere tone to the space while, I suspect, having been picked completely at random from antique shops and yard sales. I lay there for some time, listening to the building creak and sigh.
The Ancient Ram Inn is alive, in a sense. It is filled with life, with beetles, flies and woodworm, but more than that its own timbers form an ancient organism; one that is not static, but rather warps and twists, shrinks and expands, rots from inside out with a thousand years of slow death. That was enough for me – the stories, the history of the building, made this place exceptional. It didn’t need ghosts to sell it.
Whatever one may think, many witnesses and investigators have insisted that this place is indeed insanely haunted, and although Humphries passed away in 2017 the legacy of the place lives on. Is it Ley lines, portals into darkness, or simply the grim history of this place that makes it so insanely haunted? Or is this at least partly well-crafted lore and urban legend meant to pull people in to its mysteries? In the end the Ancient Ram Inn is a creepy place to be, and whether it is really haunted, cursed, and possessed by demons, taking one look at it definitely gives the impression that it should be.