As I mentioned in Part One: The Room, the Royal Oak’s remote location added to its character and atmosphere. Is it also possible that it added to the types of ghosts that walked the halls there? In part two, we talk about...
One ghost commonly seen stalking the rooms of The Royal Oak was that of a large imposing figure, wearing a three-cornered hat. This character also had a wooden leg, much like a pirate, though anyone who saw him would tell you they were looking at a highwayman. Whenever he was around, the atmosphere changed to one of foreboding.
Of course, not everybody saw the highwayman, and naturally, there were some who were sceptical of his existence. For some, only seeing leads to believing. Today’s story concerns one such individual.
The pub itself was a big old place, and on weekends it was a nightclub. Despite its isolated location, at weekends, it would be packed. Due to these factors the pub required a large cleaning staff - a cleaning staff who, when not working hard to get the place ready for the next round of visitors, told tall tales of ghosts and hauntings to newer, less experienced colleagues.
The kitchen served as their break room and one break in particular started out like most others. The end, however, was markedly different. On this break, the expected tea and chatter were present, but one of the cleaners, Karen, was not. They shouted to find her, and she swiftly replied.
Karen was in the next room, cleaning a brass-topped table which sat at the foot of the stairs. The rest of the cleaners continued their break when Karen shouted that she would be in to join them as soon as the table was polished. It would normally only take a few minutes, but she entered the kitchen even sooner than any of them expected.
“What’s wrong with you? You look awful.”
Karen stood before them, her face pale, and her hands trembling.
“I’m not going back in there.”
She was met with a stunned silence until Sue, one of the newer, uninitiated cleaners finally asked, “Why not?”
Visibly shaken, Karen replied, “He’s in there… The highwayman.”
One voice laughed in the silence. It was Sue. When she realised that she was laughing alone, she stopped. “You’ve got to be joking.”
“Come with me.” Mandy, one of the longer-serving members led her through to the stairs. They stood side by side at the foot of the stairs looking up.
“See?” Sue said. “Nothing.”
But Mandy knew better. “Listen.”
After a few seconds, there came a sound. A heavy plodding footfall on the stairs. One foot normal, the other, the clump of a wooden leg. Sue’s face drained of colour. It was her turn to tremble.
Needless to say, Sue never made fun of the highwayman again.
So what about the highwayman? One of the more popular theories about ghosts is that they are stuck between our physical world and the afterlife, usually because of some unexpected, shocking or violent end. The theory is that these poor souls wander around as spirits, unaware of their physical demise. If his appearance was anything to go by, could it have been that this ghost was once a highwayman? A dangerous life for anyone. Could it be that he was stuck between this life and the next? And if you visited the site where the pub once stood, could it be that he’s there still, or has he moved on, looking for somewhere new?
Next time in True Ghost Stories, we leave the Royal Oak for a little while and move to the Hotel where I experienced my first ever real life ghost sighting!
Have you ever seen a ghost? Let me know in the comments! As before, I’d like this to be a serious discussion, so no jokes, memes, etc. And please be respectful of others!
In this blog I'll be bringing to you short tales of things that go bump in the night, true stories of weird and unexplained events, and the real-life news of all things odd and macabre, and entertain you along the way.