Sharing Pints With English Spirits

kolkatamirror - Will you dare to explore the boundaries beyond conventional wisdom and accepted logic? Examination of the evidence might help.

Do ghosts drink English – or, any other – beer? I am not sure. After all one can record is what one witnesses and I have never seen a pint of beer lift itself from the bar counter and get quaffed by the invisible guest. But whether they drink English beer or not, the ghosts do haunt English pubs. Being a rather fair lot, they also haunt pubs, bars, hotels, inns, castles, churches and all kind of other places all over the world. Since it is a very large World, we will restrict ourselves to a few trips to Haunted Pubs, Bars, Hotels. Let us start our chasing-ghosts-in-pubs/bars in London.

After my first visit to England in 1961, I had the opportunity for many other visits, including longish stays. London became one of my favourite cities and one of the favourite pursuits – along with visiting Jazz Clubs – was to haunt the Haunted Pubs.

Perhaps the most famous of such places is The Grenadier at 18 Wilton Row – in perhaps the most fashionable part of the city – just a short walk from the Hyde Park Corner. It may be worth mentioning that the area of the Speakers Corner in Hyde Park once had the Tyburn Gallows where there were the spectacles and ‘entertainment’ of Public Hangings, a few hundred years ago. There was no Radio or TV, so the Poor People of London had to do with the ‘danse macabre’ of the twitching bodies with the nose around their neck. But this is a ‘clean’ ghostly story, so back to The Grenadier Pub.

Do you know Arthur Wellesley? It was he who earned great fame in the Waterloo Era and was created the first Duke of Wellington. He did visit India, but Kolkata’s Wellesley Street was named after his elder brother, Richard who was governor general here. The Grenadier Pub was once the officers’ mess of one of the Duke’s elite regiments. The upper floors had the officers dining room, with the cellars being used as a tavern to also cater to the needs of the enlisted men’s ‘nefarious’ activities.

During a game of cards, a young Grenadier was caught cheating. His companions immediately took him out and gave him an almighty brutal thrashing. Mortally hurt, he somehow dragged himself to the cellar and then succumbed to his injuries. So, for around 200 years, his spirit has haunted the pub.

Over the years, the staff and the patrons claim to have seen the figure of the Grenadier going up the narrow staircase, to vanish just before reaching the top. The cellar has unexplained chilly breezes and unaccounted for strange noises. Once, a heavy glass ashtray was flung at a member of staff by someone invisible.

There has not been much renovation in the pub because every time workmen try to do some work, strange things happen. Their tools and materials are moved. Locked doors are flung open violently. For no understandable reason, there are bone-chilling cold spots though faint, unintelligible and unearthly whispers are heard. Lights come on and off on their own. Unexplained shadows are seen on the staircase. Loud knocking and rapping is done by the unseen. Water is turned on without anyone touching the tap. Objects are moved or thrown about. All this happens both during day or night. Frightening but true.

It is a famous London landmark. It was there in the movie Around The World In 80 Days. Visitors from all would go over to The Grenadier Pub to have a drink and be regaled by the pub’s ghost stories. Some leave money attached to the ceiling of the main bar. To pay for the cheating Grenadier’s wrongdoing?

Can ghosts be photographed? A BBC TV crew member from the Six O’Clock Show managed to catch a faint but recognisable face in one of the upper windows of The Grenadier. When enlarged the picture showed the image of a young face with a handlebar moustache. He was wearing a fez-like distinctive cap, common in the Waterloo times. This was in 1982. No other such picture has since been taken.

Out of interest in such matters, I too visited The Grenadier .The beer was good. The food was excellent. The atmosphere was historically great. But.

My ‘bad’ luck. No Ghost!


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