The Star Inn in Godalming is a paranormal hotspot, says JOHN S TANTALON, author of The Haunted Realm of Surrey and Hampshire.
While researching my third book, I visited a market town with many ghostly tales. Godalming sits within the Surrey Hills and traverses the river Wey. With connections to Russian Czars, Ghostly Choirs and even Bonnie Prince Charlie, Godalming is an exciting and scenic place to visit.
I first visited to write a feature on the thoroughly haunted Kings Arms Hotel and its previous resident Peter the Great. With construction currently being carried out, the day could not have been more uneventful. On the way back to the train station, I encountered another hostelry with an incredible, haunted history.
A visit to Godalming’s haunted Star Inn
Situated at 132 Church Street is a Godalming pub with an incredible background. The Star Inn dates to 1832. The present building dates from the 1700s and remains largely unaltered, delivering a charm all its own. I visited The Star Inn that sunny spring afternoon and met with its landlord Andy. He would recall a selection of the pub’s wines, ales, and restless spirits.
Upon entering the Star, you are confronted with a solitary oak wooden bench. Adjacent to the front door, it is here that a figure has been sighted. The spirit is possibly an elderly gentleman in his late 70s or 80s. A visiting medium informed the landlord that a portal exists near the building where the bench sits. Staff have considered him to be in some way observing the front door. The spirit is guarding staff and customers against harmful spirits.
On the opposite side is an area of the pub known as the snug. The section throughout history has always been referred to as the local area of the bar. Historic photos decorate the walls, and a sizeable grand mirror sits in the centre. Many times, a spectral customer has been seen seated directly below the mirror.
A staff member witnessed the figure sitting within the snug in one instance. In a panic, the startled man ran to get another staff member. The pub was closed, and it had been entirely unoccupied when he had visited the area a minute before. When both men arrived at the snug, they were greeted with a chilling sight. A recently formed mark on the mirror. Precisely at the same spot where the mysterious man’s head rested a short while before.
Another spirit exists in the confines of the woman’s toilet. Her manifestation is thought to be attributed to her violent attack within the first 50 years of the pub’s existence. The same visiting psychic recognised that the woman manifests the left-hand area of the bathroom, and she was terrified to leave the room. She cannot go until somebody releases her.
Ascending a broad set of stairs brings you to the upstairs section of The Star Inn. Previously staff accommodation and now used for storage. Staff and customers have witnessed the terrifying spectacle of two children running from one side of the building to the other. Andy recalled an incident from his time as a landlord.
“I was taking stock upstairs to the staff area and stock room. I had an old acoustic guitar which had rested undisturbed against the window at the front of the building. I was entirely alone when the instrument slowly moved to my shock. It rocked from side to side against the window ledge, increasing with each second. Suddenly, the guitar shattered from its neck to its body without warning. The instrument was ruined and unrepairable within seconds of this chilling and unexplainable incident.”
Witnesses reveals Star Inn’s paranormal activity
Stu has worked at the Star for two years. He recalls hearing children’s footsteps across the upstairs area of the snug. It was 3.30 am and the conclusion of a memorable staff lock-in. There was no sight or sound when the startled staff member entered the upstairs room. On more than one occasion, glasses have mysteriously launched behind the bar. They have never harmed a staff member but almost alert them and ensure they pay attention. It is a rite of passage for staff to experience this alarming incident.
Another staff member named Freya recalls seeing a bulbous-faced woman standing in the doorway entrance behind the bar. The woman considered to be a previous landlord has been sighted before. The woman stared at her, almost disapproving of her attempts to enter the staff-only area. On another occasion, Freya encountered paranormal activity while cleaning the female toilet.
“It has happened on several occasions. I have witnessed something attempting to open the door while I am inside. When I checked to see if it was a staff member, I was greeted by nobody near the pub. We will be cleaning up for the night, and I will inform the other staff members that I will be in the woman’s toilet. On other occasions, something within the toilet prevented me from opening the door and leaving. After a while, the restriction shall cease, and the door will open freely.”
Jenny, a resident, has frequented The Star over the last 30-plus years. Her husband worked in the pub in the early 1990s and witnessed several unexplained events. One morning while setting up the pub, the sight of a gentleman in Georgian clothing (possibly earlier) appeared before his startled eyes.
The figure traversed through a nearby wall and then through the then location of the bar billiards table. Her husband saw this occurrence on several occasions. Sometimes the figure would stand still and, at other times, travel along the route mentioned. Each time, the one factor was that the figure in the historical period dress was always quick when sighted by the staff of the Star Inn.
While researching the new book, I visited at least six pubs named ‘The Star’. Guildford, Bentley, Romsey, Farnham, and Godalming all feature in each of their supernatural tales. However, the scariest one remained North of the border in my native Edinburgh. The Star Bar in Edinburgh New Town is home to an ancient, skeletal relic within its basement. The infamous cursed skull is undoubtedly in a league of its own. And another story for another day.