The Garrick’s Head and Theatre Royal is a popular haunt for both the living and the dead in Bath, writes RICK HALE
Nothing can be more romantic than spending a night out on the town with the one you love at either a fine restaurant or a night at the theatre.
The people of Bath, Somerset, and the surrounding area know all too well that The Garrick’s Head and its neighbour, Theatre Royal, are the places to go for such entertainments.
Both of these establishments are inextricably linked in both their long and voluminous history, as well as their hauntings.
Both buildings share in their ghosts along with a curious spectre that delicately flits around the theatre every Christmas morning.
But before we explore these ghosts we must first explore the history of the Grade II listed Garrick’s Head, the pub where most of the hauntings seem to emanate from.
History Of The Garrick’s Head Pub
The building that houses the popular Bath pub was built as a home for Richard Beau Nash.
Nash was a well known 18th century dandy, who had a finger on the pulse of Bath high society.
Nash also had the reputation for being the most fashionable man outside of London.
Nash was so plugged into Bath culture and society that he declared himself Bath’s Master of Ceremonies and saw to any and all entertainment in his town.
Although he was a proper man, who rarely caused a stir as such a thing would be unseemly of a gentleman of his stature, Beau Nash did have a fiery side.
Especially where he felt religious hypocrisy was involved.
The Dandy versus The Reverend
One story tells of Nash having a confrontation with a visiting reverend, the founder of Methodism, John Wesley.
When Wesley came to preach in Bath, Nash became greatly agitated and claimed Reverend Wesley was, “Scaring people out of their wits,” with fire and brimstone sermons.
When the good reverend departed, it’s said that the citizens who shared in the convictions of Beau Nash hissed at the reverend.
The Hauntings Of Garrick’s Head and The Theatre Royal
As for the ghosts said to haunt these two establishments, you may be surprised to learn that Beau Nash isn’t among their number.
Nevertheless that doesn’t make the buildings any less haunted.
The Christmas Butterfly
Perhaps the strangest phantom encountered in the theatre is a delicate butterfly.
Actors and theatre goers alike have reported that on Christmas morning a lovely butterfly appears and silently wings it’s way around the theatre.
There are superstitions that believe a spirit can return as a butterfly, but if this is so no one knows who the butterfly was in life. Or why it makes it’s dainty appearance only on Christmas morn.
The Grey Lady
Theatres are places that experience the entire spectrum of the human condition. Everything from great joy to horrific tragedy happens upon the stage nightly.
And one of those horrific tragedies have led to the theaters and pub’s most prominent phantom, the grey lady. But who is this grey lady? And why does she haunt both buildings?
The story goes, the grey lady was a young actress who carried on an affair with a handsome leading man. A grave mistake as the actress was a married woman.
When her husband discovered her infidelity, he challenged her lover to a duel with pistols.
When the two men faced each other, shots rang out and the woman’s lover lay dead at her feet.
Distraught by the death of her lover, the woman ran to the pub and either hung herself. Or threw herself out of her room’s window.
Due to her tragic life choices, the grey lady is seen wearing a grey feathered wrap that she wore during her final performance before ending her life.
The grey lady has been glimpsed watching the actors as they rehearse their lines on stage. And she has been seen wandering the Halls of The Garrick’s Head.
A number of people who have encountered the grey lady have said that before she manifests the room is filled with the delicate scent of jasmine. More than likely her perfume of choice in life.
Throughout the years, there have been numerous accounts of actors hearing loud bangs, knocks, and stomping footsteps as they practice their lines.
A number of thespians, fed up with the supernatural hijinks of the poltergeist, have walked off the stage in frustration of being interrupted by the unwanted interloper.
On the pub side, the poltergeist carries on its frightening pranks.
One night, after a particularly busy day, the employees of the pubs were sitting back and enjoying a few pints when the unbelievable occurred.
Some unseen force grabbed the till and whipped it across the room in full view of the employees.
After witnessing such a thing, I’m sure the employees finished their drinks and left in haste.
The Garrick’s Head Pub and the Theatre Royal are an integral part of Bath culture and society.
Even its ghosts have a special place in the hearts of those who patronise these historic establishments.
Have you seen a ghost at The Garrick’s Head Pub and the Theatre Royal in Bath? Tell us about it in the comments section below!