Our columnist shares his spooky tale of a haunted village inn and his encounter with the ghost of a murderer…
The Mermaid Inn
“Over the years of investigations of haunted locations that I have been involved in, I have come across many old inns around the coast of England that have played a part in the smuggling history of our island. One of the most memorable is The Mermaid Inn situated in the picturesque village of Rye on the Sussex coast. It is almost like taking a step back in time, as the ordinary suburban housing gives way to cobbled streets flanked on either side by black and white houses with quaint leaded windows – their upper floors leaning drunkenly outwards towards one another.
“When I visited the premises, the first thing I noticed was a witch’s ball hanging from the ceiling in the corner of the lounge. It is believed that the shining surface of the ball would reflect back to the instigator any negative spells which may be sent in to a property. In fact, the shiny baubles we hang on our Christmas trees today are based on the old witch’s balls of yesteryear.
“The atmosphere of the old inn was fascinating. The residual energy was full of the stealthy comings and goings, muffled whispers and the soft tread of long-gone feet. As I sat opening myself up to the atmosphere, I was also aware of hearty laughter and whispered plans – fear, many secrets and death.
“I felt drawn to the upper floor of the old inn and made my way to a bedroom situated opposite the top of the stairs. I sensed the presence of a young woman as I looked into the room. As her spirit form built up at the far side of the fireplace, I could see from her dress that she would have been of the serving classes of around the 1600s. She seemed unaware of my presence and was busying herself with some clothes in front of the fire. “Who is she?” I asked. “Annie Birtles” came the reply. “She was in love with a man named Chater who was one of a gang of fourteen smugglers. The leader of the gang, Thomas Kingsmill, had ordered that Chater put an end to her life, as he was afraid that Annie would talk about the smuggling activities of the gang to the authorities”. Chater had done as Kingsmill had ordered.
“A second bedroom revealed to me the sound of clashing steel. I knew immediately that a sword fight had taken place in the room. I could see nothing but the fabric of the room. The walls and ceilings had absorbed the emotions felt at the time of the fight to the death. I felt an immense pressure and pain in my chest and knew that one of the combatants had succumbed. The sound of a door latch clicking made me turn and I was in time to catch a glimpse of the spirit presence of a man as he turned and walked down a corridor and disappeared into another bedroom. I knew that the man I had seen was the loathsome and murderous Chater. I feel sure that many present day inhabitants of this particular bedroom would report having seen the ghost of a man.
“A third bedroom contained a rocking chair which I felt drawn to. As I placed my hands on the back of it, I picked up emanations of an elderly lady and a child. I also picked up the names Beth and George, and felt sure that in some way these names were connected to the gang of smugglers who continue to haunt the old inn. I was told after the investigation that the chair periodically rocks without anybody having been near it or touched it. My time at The Mermaid Inn only scratched the surface of the secrets that are held there, and I would like to return one day to continue my investigations into the history of the gang of smugglers who still inhabit the rooms of their headquarters of old.”
Your homely hauntings…
“Why do things keep disappearing around my home? Since we moved into our new house I’m finding quite frequently that things like my keys are not where I left them!” – Paula, Oxford
“If your house is old, it could be that you have the spirit of a former resident living with you, and they are playing tricks on you! This often happens when objects appear in places we didn’t originally put them. When this next happens, say the following out loud: “Spirit, if you are at peace, let this silly trickery cease. I mean you no harm. Vanish from this place, or else, show yourself to my face!”
Derek Acorah is one of the world’s most renowned spiritualist mediums, having demonstrated to millions of people in theatres throughout the UK and beyond over his 25 year career in the public eye. For more information, visit derekacorah.com