The Eclipse Inn in Winchester has a long, dark and haunted history. CALLUM CAMPBELL tells us about Lady Alice Lisle, the inn’s ghostly resident…
The Eclipse Inn is a grade 2 building in the National Heritage List for England. It’s is a pleasant pub located in the English city of Winchester, Hampshire.
The pub is a 3 storey building with timber framing and was originally built in the 16th century, 1540 to be precise, as the rectory of St Lawrence’s church.
It features over 100 gins from across the globe, excellent pub grub, a dog friendly policy and the spectre of Lady Alice Lisle.
On the 20th of July, 1685, there was a rapid chapping at Lady Lisle’s door. When opened it revealed John Hickes and Richard Nelthrope, members of James Scott’s (a noble with a claim to the throne who tried and failed to take the crown) failed rebellion.
The two begged for shelter and were granted it; however in the morning both were arrested and Lady Lisle was implicated in the crime of harbouring fugitives.
Despite the jury sympathising with her, Judge Jefferys had already decided her fate and pressured the jury into sentencing her guilty of treason after only 15 minutes.
Judge Jeffreys had originally sentenced her to be burned at the stake however after personally writing to King James II and VII where she argued that it was her right as a noble to be beheaded her sentence was commuted to beheading.
After this kangaroo court trial she was escorted to The Eclipse Inn where she would spend her final night listening to hammers knocking and saws cutting.
Yes, she spent her last night on earth listening to the platform where her head would be swifted severed from her body with a bloody axe being built.
In the morning, September 2nd 1685, she placed her neck on the block, with much dignity, grace and composure it was noticed by the spectators, and listened to the swish of an axe and, like a candle being extinguished, her life ended outside the Eclipse Inn in the Winchester market place.
She was the last woman in English history to be executed by beheading however the first of the Bloody Assizes, a series of brutal trials that commenced the failed rebellion of James Scott.
In these trials hundreds of people were executed at the hands of corrupt Judge Jefferys and many others were deported to the West Indies where they were forced to perform back breaking labour.
Due to this horrible end Lady Lisle now lingers at the Eclipse Inn where she has appeared to staff and customers in the form of a tall woman wearing a grey dress.
She peers at folk with a sad and mournful expression, forever trapped in a world of grief and solemness.
She may give people a small push however is decidedly harmless and the staff appreciate her company no matter how unnerving ghosts can be.
People also report hearing sounds of construction, likely a remainder of the scaffold on which she was beheaded.
In memory of Lady Lisle, a good and innocent woman who met a tragic end, the inn has created a luxury dining room in her honour, so that the public may remember her story and try to embody her qualities.
The Eclipse Inn is not the only place that play host to Lady Lisle, she has also been spotted in Moyles Court, her former home, where the sounds of her heels tapping through the corridors resonate through the building and Ellingham Lane, the street on which the church she is buried at is situated, her she is sometimes spotted riding a carriage down the road.
We should all attempt to live our lives as Lady Lisle did, honestly, respectfully and with great dignity, but we should of course not aspire to be beheaded.
Have you seen Lady Alice Lisle at the Eclipse Inn in Winchester? Maybe you’ve seen another ghost there? Tell us in the comment section below!