The George and Pilgrim Hotel, Glastonbury
Known as the George before the 20th century, The George and Pilgrim dates from the 1430’s* and was originally owned by the Abbots of Glastonbury Abbey until its dissolution in September 1539. According to ‘Glastonbury: Town’, A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 9: Glastonbury and Street (2006) ‘After the dissolution of the abbey ownership of the inn passed to the duke of Somerset** but returned to the Crown. In 1562 it was described as ‘in such great ruin’ and the lease included six featherbeds and five bolsters. Two carved and gilded bedsteads survived there in 1677. The inn seems to have remained in continuous use.’
Now a member of the Relax Innz chain of hotels, The George and Pilgrim still has a reputation of being haunted. Two of ghosts are referred to by Guy Lyon Playfair in ‘The Haunted Pub Guide’ (1985), ‘One, not surprisingly, is a monk. Early in the 1970s a woman guest described him in unusual detail, having seen him for what she reckoned to be ten to fifteen minutes……At one point the monk sat down on the guest’s bed, and she felt the sheets and blankets tighten over her as he did so. He was not alone; hovering in the background were two indistinct shapes that remained in a sort of vapour, as she told proprietor Jack Richardson soon after the event.
The second sighting was even more interesting. On 14 September 1976 a Canadian couple, Mr and Mrs McCormack from Winnipeg, came to stay for one night, knowing the hotel to be haunted and deliberately hoping to see the ghost they had read about in (of all things) a Canadian financial newspaper.
After a pleasant evening they settled down in their separate single beds in Room 7. Mrs McCormack took some time to get to sleep, and when she did she dreamed a quite normal dream about her sisters back in Canada. Then she awoke suddenly on hearing three footsteps, and looked up to see ‘a bright, arched, glimmering light’ at the end of her husband’s bed. Out of this light there emerged a man. He was tall, slender, and ‘grinning at me’…..He was wearing a blue sports coat, ‘the kind worn by elderly Englishmen on Sunday picnics’, and he remained visible — grinning all the while and still surrounded by the halo of light — long enough to make Mrs McCormack leap out of bed and wake her husband. As soon as he awoke, however, the ghost disappeared.’
An article entitled ‘Has ghost of Glastonbury pub been caught on camera?’ appeared in the Central Somerset Gazette on 11 May 2012 which mentions more recent experiences.
‘Long reputed to be one of Glastonbury’s most haunted places, one of the ghosts of the George and Pilgrim has apparently been captured by camera.
It was taken by a customer at the pub, snapping two of his friends, and it was not until they examined the photograph a few moments later that they spotted the shape in the image.
“We have been here for 12 weeks and we have heard and seen things in the cellar,” said Cathy Breakwell, who runs the pub and hotel with her partner Andy White.
“At night you can clearly see orbs on the CCTV in the bar, and I have had things put into a glass of water when there was nobody in the room – but we couldn’t believe it when we saw the photograph – it was amazing.
“He took it right in front of me, in a bar full of customers, and every photograph he took afterwards didn’t have the shape in it.”
Cathy said she believes the apparition is that of a women who fell for one of the monks at Glastonbury Abbey.
“They fell in love, but because of his vows, they couldn’t be together,” she said.
“He ended up being walled up in one of the tunnels that led between the pub and the abbey, and while they couldn’t be together in life, they are together in death.”
She says she has worked in a number of pubs over the years, some of which were “very spooky”, but said the George and Pilgrim was one of the most active pubs she has ever worked in.
“We have had guests telling us they could hear harp music coming from empty rooms, TVs turning on and off in the middle of the night, and coughs and footsteps in the cellar,” she said.
“Although it is spooky, a lot of people say they don’t feel afraid.”
*It was open by 1439 and was already on its second tenant at least by then.
**Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset (Born 1500 – Died 22 January 1552)