Is Colchester’s Red Lion Hotel, Essex’s Most Haunted Pub?

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RICK HALE takes a look at the spirits of the Red Lion Hotel – the ancient town of Colchester’s oldest Inn

The Red Lion Hotel Colchester
The Red Lion Hotel, seen here in a postcard from 1900, is known as Colchester’s oldest pub.

Red Lion Hotel

43 High St, Colchester, CO1 1DJ

The town of Colchester, Essex is commonly believed to be the oldest recorded town in England.

And with this amount of history, it should come as no surprise that the town has several haunted locations for the paranormal enthusiast to explore.

However, no home or building is quite as haunted as the town’s oldest Inn, the Red Lion Hotel.

History of The Red Lion Hotel

Located on High St, Colchester, the Red Lion Hotel is a Grade I listed historical building constructed in 1465.

The hotel has been at the centre of life in Colchester and has retained the charm of its original Tudor features.

Nevertheless, it’s not just the history or the architecture that makes the building so fascinating.

It is in fact that three very active ghosts keeps the guests returning time and time again.

The Active Spirits Of The Red Lion Hotel

As is the case with many ancient inns and hotels throughout England, the Red Lion has its fair share of resident spirits.

One of the oldest known spirits in the Red Lion Hotel is believed to be Alice Catherine Millar, a woman savagely murdered in 1638.

Her restless spirit has been experienced at the hotel since the early 1800s. And has not been quiet since.

Although the spirit of Alice has been encountered throughout the hotel, she appears to be most active in rooms 5, 6, and 10.

Alice has also shocked a number of kitchen staff who watched with awe as her spirit walks through the wall.

One assistant manager claims to have been awakened by a sudden jolt of electricity that shot through him as he slept.

When his eyes were fully opened he saw Alice sitting in a chair watching him with concern.

He was astonished when she asked if he was ok and suddenly vanished before his eyes. He was certain this was no dream.

The spirits of the hotel don’t just appear in the rooms and wander the corridors unnerving the staff and guests.

The phantom of a monk has been seen watching from the darkened corners of the reception area as people check in and out.

It is believed the monk heroically rescued a group of children from a fire that occurred at the hotel several centuries earlier.

The monk was successful saving the children but fate had a different plan for the him. He tragically perished in the fire.

Phantom monk protects and watches over The Red Lion Hotel

The monk is believed to be a protective spirit, diligently keeping watch over the hotel.

The third and final spirit encountered at this historic hotel is the ghost of a small boy.

No one really knows who this little spirit is, but he has been seen running through the Parliament Room. He has been known to only appear to children.

This playful spirit seems to delight in playing good natured pranks and has appeared in several photographs taken by unsuspecting guests.

Haunted and a great place to stay

The Red Lion Hotel has a relaxing environment with 20 en-suite rooms.

It has all the amenities of a modern hotel casually mixed with its early days as a Tudor coaching Inn.

You and your family can enjoy a few drinks or a traditional English meal in the Parliament Room located on the grounds of the hotel.

If you should visit Colchester, be sure to take in the sights of this ancient town. Including Epping forest, Beth Chatto Gardens, and Colchester Castle.

And all the ghosts this town and the Red Lion Hotel has to offer.

Tell us in the comments below if you’ve ever had a paranormal experience in the Red Lion Hotel Colchester!

Watch Red Lion Hotel Colchester paranormal investigation


  1. Saw the shape of a person with a hood on our bed when we stayed here 10 years ago . We didn’t know about the various ghost stories at the time. We put it down to having a few drinks in the bar but now am not so sure !!!

  2. A few years ago I was on a walking holiday based in Colchester. We stayed at the delightful Red Lion. On two nights my sleep was disturbed. The first time I woke to hear loud music coming from the room above. I called Reception, and a puzzled receptionist went to investigate. The next morning I was told that the TV had been turned on in what was an empty room! The next night I was again woken, this time the TV in my room had been switched on, and was turned to full volume!
    I had no idea of the ghostly goings on at the Red Lion, and thought these were electrical faults; I now know better!

  3. I had occasion to stay overnight in Colchester, a town I’d never visited before. It was before the internet and so I probably found the hotel in a AA directory. It was about 1993, or 94. I booked into the Red Lion. I arrived at about 5.30pm and then set off to have dinner with a friend at nearby village, I can’t remember the name but it was about 10 minutes drive away. . I returned back to the hotel at about 11pm and went to my room; number 9 I think. I put my key into the key-hole and turned it but the door wouldn’t open. I pushed and nothing happened. I strode across the short corridor and rushed as quickly and with as much bulk as I could muster but the door didn’t budge. I jiggled the key and pushed but all to no avail. So I went downstairs and told the night porter. “Oh no, not again”, or something like that, was his reply and so he he took my key. We went back up the stairs and he put the key in the lock and said, “Come on Fred open up Mr Turner wants to go to bed”, or something like that. He the pushed the door and it opened. The porter then assured me that I would be OK and that Fred never caused trouble for people in bed. I think I asked for another room but hey were all taken and at that time of night finding another bed would be a problem. So I took the porter at his word and as far as I can recall had a good night’s sleep – eventually. I was tired and sleep eventually overcame me. I was not a believer in ghosts until then and still find them difficult to believe in but my story is as clear in mind as it was 30 years ago. Until now I wasn’t aware that the ghost/s at the Red Lion are well documented. I must add that my room may not have been number 9 and that the porter didn’t address Fred but another name.


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