The Llandoger Trow, Bristol
The Llandoger Trow is a fantastic looking building which dates from 1664 and can be found on King Street, across from the Theatre Royal in Bristol. The pub has a long tradition of serving those connected with the arts and the men who worked the sea. It also has a reputation of being haunted.
The name dates back to the retirement of Captain Hawkins who left his ship to run the pub which he named Llandogo. The name was then changed slightly several times, but by 1755 it was known as the now familiar Llandoger Trow. A trow being a flat bottomed barge. The pubs association with seafarers goes a long way back with King Street itself being the home of many sailors. In 1757, a newspaper in the Bristol area advertised that recruiting for a privateer ship was taking place at the Llandoger Trow. ‘The Tyger, a privateer, for a four month cruise. All officers, seamen, landsmen and others that are willing to enter on board the said privateer, let them repair to the Sign of the Landogar Thow in King Street, where they will meet with proper encouragement.’ Privateers were private warships given letters of marque by the government, allowing them to attack certain foreign ships. Given the links to seafaring community it is even possible that Edward Teach (1680 – 22 November 1718) (the infamous pirate, Captain Blackbeard) may have had a flagon or two at the bar as he was born in Bristol.
During refurbishment in 1962 the remains of a tunnel (now destroyed) were discovered under the pub, which could have been connected to a whole network stretching out and including the pubs three existing cellars.
Though it cannot be proven, The Llandoger Trow is said to be the inspiration for the Admiral Benbow in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and according to tradition, this is where Daniel Defoe met his Robinson Crusoe, Alexander Selkirk.
Being close to the Theatre Royal it has attracted many famous thespian customers, including the actress Kate Terry (21 April 1844 – 6 January 1924), Sir Henry Irving (6 February 1838 – 13 October 1905) and Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree (17 December 1852 – 2 July 1917).
The Llandoger Trow is said to be haunted by somebody with a limp. This sounds like a step followed by the dragging of the other foot and has been heard several times with the possible location being the attic. The earlier accounts I read about this haunting did not identify the ghost or even distinguish whether it was male, female, adult or child. More recent accounts describe the limping ghost to be a child named Pierre who apparently died in the pub many years ago. According to Guy Lyon Playfair in The Haunted Pub Guide, apparitions have been reported, but not recently, however I have come across a mention of two figures being caught on the pubs CCTV cameras, one sat in the Jacobean room, the other in the bar. Staff monitoring the cameras thought some customers may have remained after hours and went to move them on, but they had vanished.