Guest writer DANNI WHITEHEAD tells us about five English pubs with the most gory artefacts from their dark histories.

The mummified hand at The Haunch of Venison in Salisbury, one of the many English pubs with gruesome artefacts
The mummified hand at The Haunch of Venison in Salisbury.

Pubs or public houses have always been a staple in the British way of life, a home away from home. Many pubs today have a rich and often grisly history and still have artefacts from the past. A good haunting makes a good British pub. Sometimes the origin of these artefacts has been lost over the years but nothing beats visiting an old pub with a skull or maybe severed hand looking out at you from behind the bar. Here are five pubs with such gruesome souvenirs.

The Haunch of Venison, Salisbury

1 Minster St, Salisbury SP1 1TB

Haunch of Venison in Salisbury
Haunch of Venison in Salisbury has a mummified hand in its former bread oven.

The Haunch of Venison in Salisbury dates back to 1320. Its grisly claim to fame is that in the former bread oven there lies a mummified hand which is said to belong to a card player, who lost it during a game because he was cheating.

The hand is now behind bars to stop people running off with the hand. 

Ye Olde White Harte, Hull, East Yorkshire

25 Silver St, Hull HU1 1JG

This East Yorkshire pub in Hull is full of history dating back to the 1550s. Behind the bar sits the skull of a young boy who is said to have died after a drunken sea captain bashed him over the head with his pistol.

The boy was buried under the staircase and was not found until a fire broke out in the pub in the 19th century.

Another story says the skull belongs to a serving girl who was killed by the landlord and hidden in the attic. 

The Pack Horse Pub, Affetside, Greater Manchester

52 Watling St, Affetside, Tottington, Bury BL8 3QW

Greater Manchester’s The Pack Horse Pub was built in 1443, years ago, the area was a part of Lancashire.

There is a skull, old and brown, that sits behind the bar. It is said to be the skull of George Whowell from the time of the English Civil War. George witnessed his family’s murder in the Bolton Massacre by Royalist soldiers, led by James Stanley, the 7th Earl of Derby.

Stanley was later captured by Cromwell’s soldiers and sentenced to death for supporting the ‘Pretender’ Charles II.

His executioner was George Whowell, who was the local headsman. 

It is unknown how Whowell’s skull came to be at the pub but he may have been connected to the Butterworth family, a local farming family. Rumour has it that the skull can not be moved otherwise it will scream.

Golden Fleece, York

Golden Fleece, 16 Pavement, York YO1 9UP

The Golden Fleece in York is home to a replica of a skull of an executed woman.
The Golden Fleece in York is home to a replica of a skull of an executed woman.

Inside the Golden Fleece, one of York’s most haunted pubs, is the replica of a skull from a woman who was hanged in 1800.

Elizabeth Johnson was found guilty after using a forged pound banknote, which apparently is worth around £90 today. She was executed in nearby Knavesmire and visited the Golden Fleece when it was still an inn.

You can read more about The Golden Fleece here on the Spooky Isles.

Hare & Hounds, Newport, Isle of Wight

Downend Rd, Newport PO30 2NU

This Greene King pub on the Isle of Wight hosts an unknown skull that could be two people. It is either from Michal Morey, who was executed in Winchester in the 18th century for murdering his grandson, or the skull of a young woman from the Bronze Age who was unearthed near the pub. The skull sits between the bar and restaurant. 

Have you been to any of these English pubs? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

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