TUCKING myself into bed, I flash the torch under each piece of furniture before turning out the light.
Within seconds of being plunged into darkness, a cold breeze sends a shiver down my spine and I flick the dusty lamp back on.
Quivering, I tell myself it is just a draught from the large open fireplace.
Then there is a series of loud creaks from outside the door and a shadow forms in the antique mirror.
Leaping to my feet, I make a run for the spiral staircase — the quickest route out of there.
Because far from a relaxing break in the Gloucestershire countryside, I am attempting to spend the night at Britain’s most haunted house.
However, as a self-confessed scaredy cat I couldn’t make it past midnight at the Ancient Ram Inn. And I am not the only one…
The Sun revealed last week how owner John Humphries’ historic home is so haunted that his daughter Caroline Humphries had to arrange a special care package for her dad because his current carers are too scared to enter alone.
Among the terrifying testimonials from visitors to the Ancient Ram in Wotton-under-Edge are claims of screams from an invisible child and furniture being flung across the room.
One carer complained that her clothes were being tugged at by a ghost while she was working.
Caroline, 53, says: “Gloucestershire council signed off having two carers after dark and told me I wouldn’t have to contribute towards the cost.
“Thankfully, we have been granted non-residential social care for John at the council’s expense and it’s all because of the ghosts.”
Sitting with disabled John, who is 87, it is clear he has had some pretty hair-raising experiences since moving into the Ram 50 years ago. But he has no intention of moving out.
Pointing at the spot where I am perched, he says: “You are sitting in the most haunted place in the whole house, dear.
“Under that bench is a 5,000-year-old pagan grave, and sometimes the incubus — a lustful demon — will come along during the night in that exact place and try to take your clothes off.
“It is frightening but the only way to deal with it is to speak with authority — and it leaves me alone.”
It is pitch-dark outside and because the property is so vast, John lives in a single room. A light flashes outside and we flinch before realising it is just the security lamp on the drive as ghost-finder Barri Ghai arrives with his paranormal detector equipment.
John tells Barri: “The ghosts are everywhere. We’ve had guests ju
“Dogs turn on their owners when they are in the vicinity and many have described a feeling of being ‘held down’ on the beds by a heavy force.
“I am a religious man and have been a Christian all my life. I wouldn’t lie — it’s a haunted house.”
Barri and I walk through the winding, dark corridors and the chill in the air makes us zip up our coats.
Just as we enter the front room, Barri’s EMF reader, which senses electromagnetic fields associated with ghostly presences, starts beeping.
Turning on the light reveals an open grave marked with a wooden cross and the reader flat-lines.
Rigid with fear, I ask John what happened in this spot.
He says: “When I was renovating the property, back when I bought it, I discovered small bones and encased daggers under the earth. We can’t be certain but I believe that children had been sacrificed there to pagan gods.
“Now I realise that the property stands on one of the biggest graveyards in England. But once we had disturbed one grave, we didn’t want to go digging any further.
Spirit? … ghostly image caught on camera
“If you really want to get the ghosts stirred up, the best way is to disturb them by moving stuff around . . . they don’t like it.”
On entering the Bishop Room, the most haunted bedroom in the property, I wondered if I would survive the night.
John says: “Some people say a monk haunts this room, others say it is the ghost of a centurion on horseback.
“The stab marks on the bedding are from ghostly goings-on.”
Barri echoes John’s spooky tales, adding: “I have heard of people being unable to get out of this room once they get inside. People definitely don’t ‘sleep’ in the room.”
John instructs me to rap on the crooked door with the wooden cane he hands to me.
After each knock, I call out to ask: “Is anybody there?”
Flash … staircase spook photographed again
I am not sure I want to know the answer but apparently showing respect is the way to prevent being spooked.
Caroline, who spent her childhood in the Ancient Ram, says: “I have only ever slept in this room once — and I wouldn’t again.
“The carers have said they hear things moving around when they are in the upstairs part of the house and are too scared to use the toilet alone.
“When we first got carers in to help with my dad, five months ago when he broke his leg, they would come for 15 minutes three times daily. But with them being too frightened to come, I’ve put CCTV cameras all over the property to keep an eye on everything and make sure Dad is OK.
“Despite it all working out well, I am afraid of angering the spirits by messing with their environment.”
Not afraid … Ancient Ram Inn owner John Humphries
The empty stare of the taxidermy and religious paraphernalia in the house do nothing to ease my concerns and there are rumours of guests needing to be exorcised after a night’s stay.
Caroline says: “The first clear written record we have of the inn is in 1145. It is even in the Domesday Book. But it’s listed as going back to time immemorial, so it could actually be a lot older. It was once used by priests to keep their slaves and workers who helped construct the St Mary Church.
“In 1930, the inn was bought by Maurice de Bathe and it’s had a few private owners since then. Dad bought it for just over £2,600 in 1968.
“It’s also built on the intersection of two ley lines, which people believe have high spiritual energy.
“We’ve traced the lines back and they go all the way through the centre of Stonehenge.”
Some local people tell me they cross the road to walk as far away from the property as possible.
And despite my initial scepticism, the legend of the Ancient Ram Inn seems more than just hocus-pocus.
Before we leave, I pick up John’s copy of the Bible for reassurance. He warns: “You be careful driving out of here. Many visitors say they have problems with their cars after a night at the Ram.”
I check my brakes before turning out of the drive. But on the main road, a sack of potatoes flies off the back of a truck and lands in front of my car. I swerve and just miss it.
It has been a weird 24 hours and I am feeling shaken and left wondering if I did annoy the ghosts at The Ancient Ram Inn.
One thing I know for sure, though, is that I am not going to stay any longer to find out.
Gloucestershire and Stroud councils and Network Health Care were contacted for a response. All refused to comment on individual cases.
‘TV crew man was dragged off his feet’
Hunter … Yvette Fielding
“GHOSTS walking through walls, demonic entities getting into bed with you and open graves in the front room. The Ancient Ram Inn is my kind of place to spend the night,” writes Most Haunted TV presenter YVETTE FIELDING.
“In 2005 I took the team from Most Haunted to this allegedly haunted inn. When we arrived we were met by the owner John who told us, in no uncertain terms, that as we crossed the threshold we were to say ‘Hello’ and to show no disrespect.
“One of the crew, Stuart, forgot to say ‘hello’ and lived to regret his mistake.
“When the lights were turned off in the house we all went into a room that housed a lot of junk and boxes.
“Within seconds Stuart was dragged off his feet and seemingly pulled on to the floor. He lay curled up in the foetal position and just screamed. Something was hitting him and wouldn’t stop.
“The next morning Stuart showed us his bruises. They were all over his torso.
“A couple of weeks later his hair started falling out and he handed in his resignation.”
Categorised in: Haunted House
This post was written by Nadia Vella