The Grenadier, Knightsbridge
The Grenadier at 18 Wilton Row dates back to the early eighteenth century. Popular with Royalty and celebrities (King George IV, Madonna, Guy Ritchie and Gwyneth Paltrow) it was described by Guy Lyon Playfair in his Haunted Pub Guide (1987) as being “probably the most famous haunted pub in the world” and it is probably the one with its own sentry box outside.
18 Wilton Row was built around 1720 and used by the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards, which was created following the death of Lord Wentworth in 1665, when John Russell’s King’s Royal Regiment of Guards (formed 1656) and Lord Wentworth’s own Royal Regiment of Guards (formed 1656) merged. Following the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards was renamed through Royal Proclamation the Grenadier Regiment of Foot Guards after the French Imperial Grenadiers whom they defeated at Waterloo (which is not strictly true as it was the French Imperial Chasseurs they fought and defeated at Waterloo). Although not the oldest regiment of infantry (that honor belong to the Coldstream Guards, originally part of Cromwells New Model Army), the Grenadier Guards is the most senior regiment of infantry in the British Army. By 1818 the building which had been known as the Duke of Wellington’s Officers Mess, was known as The Guardsman and was licensed premises. By 1944 it was named The Grenadier.
It is thought that one September whilst it was the officer’s mess, a young subaltern (junior officer) was playing cards (possibly in the cellar with some common soldiers) when he was found to be cheating. The soldiers he cheated decided to teach him a lesson and in their anger they beat him to death, though some accounts say they shot him. Either way this unnamed soldier (though sometimes referred to as Cedric), who died in an undetermined year is said to haunt The Grenadier during each September and experiences have been reported since the 1950’s.
Reported experiences seem to include the rattling of tables and chairs, unaccounted for footsteps, items being moved, pets acting erratically in cellar and the usual cold spots. The case has drawn the attention of several authors writing about the paranormal including Joseph Braddock in Haunted Houses (1956). According to Guy Lyon Playfair in The Haunted Pub Guide (1987) ‘The haunting was well established by 1956, when Joseph Braddock (one of our more thorough author-investigators) obtained some good first-hand evidence from landlord Roy Grigg, his wife and their son. They described an assortment of shapes, shadows and transient blobs, some of which looked like a figure of a man, though Mr Grigg admitted to being ‘a little doubtful of the grenadier story’. I have yet to come across any clear descriptions of Guards officers. This lack of testimony is of some interest. The legend here is so well known — you can read all about it in several languages in the framed press cuttings on the wall — that as the traditional haunting season (September) comes round, expectations mount. If ghost-seeing were no more than expectation fulfillment as some believe, then spectral grenadiers should turn up every autumn. But they do not.’
Playfair goes on to mention an experience related too investigators Victor Sims and Dr George Owen by the barman of the time Tom Westwood. ‘He was pulling a pint one day when the beer supply suddenly cut off. Assuming that one of the glass pipes had snapped, as they sometimes did in cold weather, he went down to clean up the mess the resulting leakage invariably made. He found the pipe broken, as expected, but no mess, because the tap on the barrel had been turned off. Mr Westwood was the only person in the building at the time who had access to the cellar.’
A wisp of smoke that appeared from thin air was witnessed by Tom Westwood (who left The Grenadier around 1982) and the mother of the landlord after the pub had closed following lunch. There was apparently no possible source for this smoke such as ashtrays that needed emptying etc. Following this incident, a few days later a Brewery Inspector (ex CID officer) was burnt and received a mark similar to a cigarette burn on his hand whilst standing where the wisp or smoke ‘apparition’ had been witnessed.