The New Inn, St Neots
The New was originally an old coaching inn, and is reputedly haunted by Henry Rich, 1st Earl of Holland (1950 – 9th March 1649).
On 9th July 1648, Holland and his four hundred weary troops entered St Neots after being forced from Kingston-upon-Thames by Parliamentary forces. St Neots had remained neutral throughout the Civil War and Holland did his best to assure the townsfolk that he wanted an end to the war but, only as a Royalist victory. Roundheads arrived the following morning and the Battle of St Neots began. Holland barricaded himself in an inn with some of his troops but the Parliamentary soldiers under Colonel Scroope gained access and arrested him.
Holland was placed under close arrest in St Neots before being moved to Warwick Castle the next day. The rest of the Royalist prisoners were held in the church then taken to Hitchin. Holland was put on trial in London on 2nd February 1649, sentenced to death and subsequently executed as a traitor at the Tower of London. He claimed that the surrender of St Neots had been on the provision that his life would be spared; this is something he was supposed to have repeated whilst being taken to the scaffold.
It is said that Holland was held in The New Inn before being transported to Warwick Castle and, it is suggested that it is he who haunts the building now. His ghostly apparition is said to have been seen several times in the bar area.
In the early 1960s, a Mrs Kerr saw an apparition of a tall male figure wearing an ankle length cloak at the Inn. She saw the figure walk across the bar and out into the yard. Thinking it was a customer who had stayed beyond closing time she went to investigate, but was shocked when she realised that the back door was still locked from the inside.
See also Holland House, Kensington.