A Paranormal Investigation At The Ancient Ram Inn
In the rural village of Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, lies the Ancient Ram Inn, a location steeped in history and mystery, and rumoured to be one of the most haunted places in Britain. This historic inn, famous for its paranormal phenomena, has drawn the attention of ghost hunters and enthusiasts worldwide, which is why I couldn’t resist the chance to embark on a solitary, night-long investigation within its storied walls.
During my night alone in the inn, which was owned by John Humphries until his death in December 2017, I was armed with an array of investigative methods and an open mind. From traditional techniques like calling out and using trigger objects to more unconventional methods, such as hosting a DJ set for the spirits of the inn, my investigative approach was characterised by its blend of innovation, back-to-basics methods, and a touch of daring.
Arriving At The Inn
I was more excited about this ghost hunt than any I had ever undertaken before. My excitement was fuelled by the fact that it’s such an iconic paranormal location and due to the conditions under which I was being given the chance to investigate the inn. I would be completely alone at the Ancient Ram Inn all night long.
I arrived in Wotton-under-Edge before sunset to give me a chance to get set up ahead of my night-long investigation. Because I’d be filming the night, one thing I was very keen to do was walk in for the first time on camera, rather than staging and recreating the moment for the camera later.
After my initial walk around, I began the job of setting up CCTV around the inn. I had four night vision cameras that I spread across the building, with one covering the entrance from the living room, while setting up this camera I heard my first odd noise of the night. It sounded like the door through to the Men’s Kitchen moving.
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Hourly Walk Arounds
I’d decided that a good way to put myself in the position of experiencing something was to perform hourly baseline checks throughout the night using thermometers placed around the building. These baseline checks weren’t so much about recording temperature changes, but they were designed to give me a mundane task to carry out each hour in the hopes that this would leave me susceptible to being caught off guard by paranormal activity while I was focused on something else.
I was using five separate thermometers for this experiment. Carrying a thermometer from room to room isn’t a suitable way to conduct baseline tests as even the best thermometers take some time to adapt to the air temperature around them. So, by leaving thermometers in five different areas, I knew their readings would be consistent. I placed the thermometers outside the front door, in the living room, in the Men’s Kitchen, in the Mayflower Barn and upstairs in the Witch’s Room.
On the hour, every hour, I walked around the property with a notepad and a handheld night vision camera and recorded the temperature in each of the five areas. My first reading outside at 6pm was 14.6°C, which dropped to 12.3°C by the time I went to bed at 5am. Inside the temperature was much more stable, averaging 13.5°C across the evening with the Witch’s Room being the warmest with an average of 14.2°C. The temperature in the rooms slowly dropped during the evening, but only by less than half a degree across the 11 hours. The exception was the barn, which fell by 1.1°C across the recorded period.
I’d hoped this mundane task might open me up to spirits, but nothing strange or unexplained happened during the 12 walk-arounds. However, on reviewing the footage, I did notice that each time I checked the thermometer in the Men’s Kitchen, I’d shine my torch around the whole room and into all the dark areas. I did this without fail. Is this a sign I was slightly nervous in the dark?
I had a different investigation method planned for each hour of the night. To give me time to get set up after the hourly baseline walk-around, each experiment began at 20 minutes past the hour and lasted 25 minutes, ending at quarter to. This gave me time to pack up afterwards, reflect on the experiment and record any thoughts on camera in the van, which doubled as a sort of ‘Big Brother’ style diary room on wheels.
Each experiment was filmed with two cameras – a close-up and a wide shot – and the audio was captured independently on a Zoom F2 audio recorder with a lapel mic. At times, I also used a Sony ICD-PX333 or Tascam DR-40X audio recorder, depending on the type of experiment.
8pm: Initial Calling Out (Men’s Kitchen)
My first vigil took place in the Men’s Kitchen, an old bar area with a large fireplace enclosed in a circular wooden snug. The room, with its low ceiling and exposed wooden beams, is an atmospheric place with plenty of unique and interesting objects, such as handwritten notes left by John, newspaper clippings about the inn’s haunted reputation, a taxidermy crow, and lots of nautical items. The nautical paraphernalia were collected by John, whose family had links to the Merchant Navy.
It was still light outside for this first vigil, but the room is naturally quite dark, with just three small windows, two of which are at the front of the building and where the road is higher, making the windows more like basement windows that are constantly shielded from sunlight. There were also no lights on in the room – although it should be said that the inn does have electricity and lighting throughout.
I took a seat next to the fireplace on a traditional pub chair. The vigil involved me sitting in the dark and calling out to any spirits that might be present. I said things like “if there’s anyone in this building, anywhere, that can hear my voice, why don’t you come and join me here in the bar?”
I called out in this manner for quite a while and it was mostly uneventful. When I asked “can you give me a sign you’re here please?” a thudding sound could be heard just as I completed the sentence. It was only picked up on my lapel mic, which was clipped onto my shirt. I admit, the sound probably isn’t paranormal as it sounds like the noise you generally get when you tap or knock a microphone, but what’s strange is that the video shows no such movement that would have caused that noise at the time.
Because it was still quite early in the evening, the spirits were competing with the traffic outside. A fairly busy road passes right outside of the windows of this room. I did feel to start with as if I’d heard a couple of unusual knocks, although Caroline has told me that most knocks in the inn should be ignored because the building is so full of holes. As I sat in the darkness longer, I realised that these knocking sounds were actually caused by cars hitting a certain point in the road. I also heard what sounded like fabric or clothes moving at a time when I didn’t move, but the sound was very faint, hard to place and didn’t seem meaningful or in context, so it’s impossible to draw any conclusion on that.
After ten minutes of calling out, I decided to change approach slightly and put on a pair of high-quality headphones connected to a Tascam audio recorder. I hit the record button and placed the recorder down on a barrel. It is really important to place audio recorders on a flat surface, otherwise you risk creating unwanted sounds with your own hands – a tiny flexing of your finger as you hold the device can be captured as a loud cracking sound by the device’s microphone.
I’d never tried this method before, but I really liked it. With this setup, I could hear everything, more than I could with just the ear as the recorder was amplifying my surroundings. It was like having super-human hearing. The idea is to make it possible to hear EVPs in real time. Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) are believed by some to be the voices of spirits communicating from beyond the grave. The downside of wearing headphones is that you limit your soundscape, which means that you can’t get a sense of direction where the sounds are coming from.
I spent the last 15 minutes of the vigil calling out and listening for responses via the audio recorder, which amplified my own voice back at me and even the slightest movement I made. Despite my new ultra-sensitive sense of hearing, the second part of the vigil was as quiet as the first. There was nothing to suggest any kind of ghostly goings-on. All I experienced was a single bang. It was very clear, but didn’t occur at a time where it seemed to be in response to anything I’d said or asked for.
But, remembering what Charlene had advised me before I ventured into the house, I didn’t rule it out immediately. Charlene had said, “be open-minded and say if a floorboard creaks and you think to yourself, ‘that’s just a floorboard,’ it might actually not just be a floorboard, it might actually be a footstep. So always say, ‘if that was you that just made that floorboard creak, can you do that again for me?’ So, don’t cut it off straight away. Always ask just in case it was them, then if it happens again, you can explore more.” Sadly, the sound wasn’t repeated on demand or at all, in fact.
9pm: Robot Session (Attic Bedroom)
My second vigil was held in the attic bedroom, a part of the house which was once Caroline’s childhood bedroom and the place where she remembers experiencing some extreme poltergeist activity in the form of her bedside cabinet falling down the stairs, despite being situated beside her bed on the other side of the room.
By this point in the evening, the sun had fully set and, with no lights on inside the inn, the entire building was in complete darkness. You often hear that trope that “the whole place took on a different atmosphere when the lights went out,” but quite honestly, it didn’t feel any different to me; I still felt quite comfortable and relaxed.
For this experiment, I sat in a very comfortable armchair under the rafters, while allowing a ghost hunting robot to roam around at my feet. It’s actually an 18 cm-tall children’s toy released by WowWee in 2014, but they’ve been picked up by ghost hunters because the toy uses gesture recognition technology, making it an interesting tool for potentially detecting ghostly movements. The robot balances like a Segway on two big wheels, but the friendly little robot responds to the movements of your hand. So, if you stand in front of it and beckon it towards you, it will move. Investigators hope the same thing will happen with ghostly hands.
The attic bedroom has a flat floor with enough space for the robot to move around, so I placed it on the floor and introduced myself to any spirits that might be present, telling them about the robot and how they could interact with it.
For the first ten minutes, the robot did nothing, just gently rocking back and forth to maintain its balance. Then, suddenly, it spun around about 10-20 degrees. About a minute later, it rotated again and moved backwards approximately 10-20cm. Although it did make a few more slight turns and short movements forward and backward, none of the movements showed any sign of intelligence and seemed more random than anything. The robot certainly wasn’t moving on demand, just at random points while I was calling out.
10pm: DJ Set (Witch’s Room)
For my 10 o’clock hour experiment, I was able to try something I was particularly excited about doing, something aimed at enticing the spirits of the inn and raise the energy. I hosted a short DJ set for them. My reasoning for doing this is because ghost hunters regularly venture into places like the Ancient Ram Inn, and sit in the dark and calling out, “hello, is anybody there?” If I were a ghost, such efforts would hardly inspire me to engage with them.
Before kicking off my gig at the inn, I sought advice from a couple of ghost-hunting friends. Charlene agreed it was a good idea and might stimulate some activity. She told me, “if a pub is haunted, the energy from the DJ equipment, the music, and the atmosphere usually triggers activity immediately after they’ve locked up.”
Barry Dodds from The ParaPod was curious about the type of music I was planning to play for the undead. I told him, “I thought I might drop some uplifting house or something to raise the energy.” The podcast host and comedian responded, “Well, that’s a good idea,” before recommending his favourite track, Erasure’s ‘A Little Respect’, jokingly adding, “a little respect for the dead.”
I selected the Beaufort Room for my DJ set. The room, now named the Witch’s Room in honour of its alleged spectral occupant, was previously named after a local annual hunt meet. With its stone walls, a fireplace, and wooden beams, this open, airy space seemed the perfect place to drop some beats.
As the coloured lights continued to sweep across the room, I called out in my best DJ voice to any curious spirits that might have ventured into my party room. I said things like, “Come on, Witch’s Room, make some noise!” and “If you’re here, try to show yourself if you can. Let me see those moves! Come on, show me your moves!”
While transitioning ‘Ghostbusters’ into a track by North London DJ and producer Majestic, I declared, “This is going out to anyone dead or alive tonight,” and offered them some advice on getting their choice of music played, saying, “I can’t do requests unless you can talk to me.”
Despite playing some of my favourite party tunes and doing all I could to encourage the spirits of the inn to come out and play, sadly, the experiment – though enjoyable – did not elicit any response.
11pm: Burial Cross Trigger (Men’s Kitchen)
During the 11 o’clock hour, I was able to conduct another experiment that wouldn’t be practical as part of a public ghost hunting event. I set up a trigger object in the inn, then literally left the building and locked it up. Having the building to myself was a great opportunity to carry out an old-school experiment like this with the knowledge that no one else could be in the building. The experiment also doubled as a chance to have a break.
Obviously, I had my four static cameras in the building too, which would also spot any unexplained movements throughout the night, but the idea was that this was a bit more of a controlled experiment with more of a specific focus.
I set the experiment up in the Men’s Kitchen. It involved placing a trigger object on one of the beer barrel bar tables and training two cameras on the object. One to get a close-up shot of any movement, another with a wide shot to show the conditions in the room at the moment any movement might occur.
I was using a lead burial cross as the trigger object, partly because it’s an interesting object anyway, but also because, as a religious symbol, I thought it might appeal to one of the spirits that is said to haunt the inn, a bishop. These mortuary crosses are simple, undecorated burial markers found during the excavation of burial sites across the UK; they are often linked to sites that are believed to have been used during the Black Death outbreak of 1348-53.
During the 25-minute lockdown, the object didn’t move. This was verified by the fact that the flour hadn’t been disturbed and the video recording showed no movement. However, the TAD did trigger several times to indicate sudden temperature changes. These fluctuations didn’t seem particularly significant; there was no pattern or any other activity at the same time. What’s odd, though, is that the baseline thermometer only showed a drop of 0.2°C over the whole night. The vibration detector did not trigger during the experiment.
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12am: No Recording Equipment (Men’s Kitchen)
Something else Charlene had suggested was entering the inn for a period of time without any recording equipment. Charlene mentioned that she feels it’s important to let the spirits know that you’re not there for any fame, fortune, or gain from them, and you can make this point by turning off your recording equipment. She explained, “I’ll always turn a camera off, maybe after an investigation or even before we start, and say, ‘right, come on then, let’s do something now. There’s no cameras on. It’s just some truth for ourselves that you are here with us’.”
So, during my midnight vigil, I went into the Men’s Kitchen and told the spirits, “I’m going to do something a bit different now. I’ve got this cloth, and I’m going to cover up my camera.” I threw a cloth over my static camera, which was set up on the piano, and continued, “so, I’m not recording you now, it’s just me and you. I’m going to spend some time here, and hopefully we can connect if that’s okay with you.”
I then sat in one of the chairs near the fireplace and proceeded to call out to the spirits for the next 20 minutes, and I spoke a lot. I told the spirits all about myself and where I’d come from. I even spoke about my interest in the paranormal and ended up telling the spirit of the Ancient Ram Inn ghost stories, as I recounted the tale of a previous experience of mine. I thought this was worth a try because who doesn’t love a ghost story?
1am: Spirit Box (Weavers’ Attic)
My next vigil was held in the Weavers’ Attic. I’d already conducted my robot experiment in the attic earlier in the night, but this time I wasn’t in the bedroom area but the adjacent attic area, which had a small table and some chairs set up in the middle.
For this session, I was using a spirit box, a device that rapidly scans through the AM and FM radio spectrum. As it does so, fleeting bursts of white noise and static can be heard, as well as radio broadcasts. It’s believed that spirits are able to manipulate the white noise or the radio bursts in order to form words and phrases which serve as intelligent responses to investigators’ questions.
I opened the vigil by telling anyone that might be listening to me, “Hello again to the spirits of the Ancient Ram Inn. I’m going to try to contact you again if that’s okay.” I then explained what the spirit box is and how they might be able to use it to communicate with me.
I wasn’t hearing anything through the spirit box at all. I tried calling out, “If you’re somewhere else in the building and you can hear my voice, please come towards me.” I told the spirits they were very welcome to join me at the table, but the device remained unresponsive. After about 12 minutes, I decided to turn it off due to the lack of any responses.
With the chatter of the spirit box gone, the attic was now silent and almost immediately I started to hear a strange repetitive tapping sound coming from a very specific part of the attic where there’s a stone chimney breast. The series of taps was repeating frequently and continued for long enough for me to place an audio recorder near the source of the sound.
I was using my trusty Sony ICD-PX333, which is great for recording sounds in the room and was more than capable of capturing the tapping sound. It was a very strange sound, coming in bursts of around seven to 10 tiny taps, which, although quiet, were easy to hear in the silent attic.
These bursts of taps went on for about three minutes, and although they were unique and very interesting, they didn’t seem to be intelligent or responsive to my voice in any way, but the source of the sound remains a mystery. I’ve never heard anything quite like it on a ghost hunt.
I’m not a huge fan of spirit boxes. I don’t trust that they work as claimed, and I’ve never heard any voice through one that’s convinced me otherwise. In fact, I only used one at the Ancient Ram Inn as part of my mission to be open to different methods and approaches.
But what’s interesting about this experience is that the relentless cackle of the spirit box was actually drowning out much more interesting activity in the room, something that remains a mystery to me. So, it should make any investigator wonder what they’re missing out on when they let noisy devices like this run during investigations.
2am: Sage Trigger (Men’s Kitchen)
After a baseline walk around at 2am, it was time for another break, but not before setting up another trigger object experiment. This time I was using a sage smudge stick, the type used in witchcraft. This was obviously designed to appeal to the witchy ghost that is said to be connected to the inn.
Early on, five strange knocks were captured, just after the TAD triggered due to a temperature drop. The sound repeated itself as a single knock a few seconds later. Then, around the ten-minute mark, the sound can be heard again. The best way I can describe it is as something being shaken.
The trigger object didn’t move during the experiment and no other movement was captured on the two cameras I’d placed in the bar area to record the experiment. I also checked the CCTV I’d set up in the room for that time period and there was no obvious movement or source of the sound.
3am: Aggressive Switch (Mayflower Barn)
I spoke to Stuart ahead of my night in the inn, and he told me about the harrowing experience that left a lasting mark on him in 2003. Stuart said, “it was just like being in a war zone. That’s how it felt mentally for me at the time.” He described being physically attacked by an unseen force after he disrespectfully addressed the spirits upon entering the inn. Stuart admitted, “I was the second to last to walk in. I said, ‘hello, my name’s Stuart. Go f**k yourself.'” He knew his disrespectful behaviour was the cause of the attack, saying, “I knew it was because of what I said.”
I asked Stuart if he thought I should follow in his footsteps and go in with an aggressive style. He said, “I think personally you’ve got to go in there as you, because you’re not a bad person. You’re not an aggressive person by nature. You’re a very calm and relaxed kind of guy, I know that, so I think that’s how you’ve got to go in there.” But, Stuart conceded that if the night goes on and the activity is sparse, then “start being a bit more aggressive, because I know that works now; it works for me.”
At 3am, after spending several hours in the inn without any major activity to report, I decided to make that switch to an aggressive approach. For this experiment, I went to the Mayflower Barn, the exact part of the inn where Stuart had his encounter 20 years ago.
I have to admit, I was a little nervous about this as I took a seat at a long table in the pitch-black barn. I started by calling out, “I’ve been here hours and you’ve been f**king s**t. Why don’t you go f**k yourself? You’re supposed to be a strong, powerful ghost. You’ve beaten people up in this room. And tonight you can’t even knock?!”
I continued with a harsh critique of the inn’s resident spooks’ haunting skills, calling anything that might be listening a “disgrace” and a “coward.”
At one point, I heard a very faint creaking sound, which I immediately dismissed as the bench I was sitting on creaking, but remembering what Charlene had said to me about prematurely assuming things aren’t paranormal, I asked out, “if that was you making that noise, can you do it again but louder, please?” The noise didn’t repeat itself.
The only odd thing I have to report about the barn is that the infrared light on one of the inn’s CCTV cameras started flashing on and off just before my vigil. The camera was visible on one of my own CCTV cameras I’d set up and for the roughly seven hours before, the light hadn’t flashed on or off once. It started just before my vigil, and continued throughout.
4am: Full Exposure (Bishop’s Room)
But that got me thinking. Can’t you be more vulnerable than when you sleep? What about standing in an unfamiliar room with your trousers around your ankles? I’d say that’s a good way to make yourself vulnerable. So, that’s what I ended up doing just after 4am.
I decided to conduct this experiment in the Bishop’s Room, a part of the former inn where visitors have reported encounters with what the building’s former owner, John Humphries, described as a “sex demon”. Some claim that this demon is a male entity known as an incubus that preys on women, while others believe it to be a female counterpart called a succubus that seduces men. Caroline, John’s daughter, explained to me before my night in the inn that it seems to be one demon that changes sex depending on its prey. But could I tempt this demon to show itself by making myself an easy target?
So, in total darkness, I unbuttoned my shirt and threw it on the bed. Then, being careful of my lapel microphone that was looped around my neck, I lifted off my t-shirt. Finally, after pulling my mic pack out of my pocket, I dropped my jeans to my ankles, leaving me standing in the Ancient Ram Inn completely naked. I called out to any spirits or sex demons that might be watching, “I’m vulnerable now. Are you going to do something to me?”
I continued to call out to the empty room, encouraging any entities to confront me. I did feel uneasy being naked in an unfamiliar environment, but I can’t say I was scared or felt threatened by the situation. I was exposed and vulnerable for a few minutes, before deciding that the ghosts of the Ram had probably had enough and got dressed again. The experiment ultimately yielded no unexplained activity.
5am: Sleeping (Bishop’s Room)
Just before 5am, I embarked on my final baseline walk around a little early, during which I picked up and pocketed the thermometers as a first attempt to start packing up. After this, it was time to get some much-needed sleep. I’d decided that if you’re going to sleep at the Ancient Ram Inn, then the obvious room to sleep in is the Bishop’s Room.
Sleeping in the inn was really the final experiment of the night. I wasn’t able to record video throughout the night due to limited space on memory cards and battery constraints, but I left an audio recorder running all night and also placed a trail cam in the room, so if anything moved during the night it would trigger the camera to record.
I changed into some comfy clothes and climbed into a sleeping bag I’d brought with me. I chose to sleep on the bed nearest the window, which actually was surprisingly comfortable. To start with, my rest was peaceful, but after about half an hour in bed, I was awoken from my light sleep by a strange rustling sound. It took me a few seconds to find my torch on the bedside cabinet and turn it on, but once I did, I scanned the room with the beam and couldn’t see anything out of place or anything that might have caused the sound.
I was comfortable, warm, and in need of sleep, so I put the sound down to something moving, like my bag that might have lost balance on the other bed, but I felt unsettled and resigned to attaching the strap of my torch to my wrist and keeping it in my hand just in case.
It was only about five minutes later when I had cause to flick my torch on again. I heard the same rustling sound again, but this time more sustained and louder. I jumped up and saw some dried flowers in the fireplace shaking in the torchlight. I quickly deduced that something must have fallen down the chimney and disturbed the floral display. I was able to confirm this in the morning when I found that the flowers’ petals were covered in dust that had clearly fallen from the chimney.
Of course, this was the room where earlier I’d stripped off for the spirits because of that story of the sex demon lurking in the building. That flash wasn’t the only time I was at risk of demonic seduction. According to Rosemary Ellen Guiley’s book ‘Demons & Demonology’, a succubus is a demon that takes the form of a beautiful woman in order to seduce a man. They visit men in their sleep – especially men who sleep alone – and cause erotic dreams, nightmares, and nocturnal emissions. So during my slumber in the Bishop’s Room, the demon would have another chance to attack.
Luckily, the rest of the night was peaceful. I didn’t have any erotic dreams or nightmares, and I’m pleased to report no nocturnal emissions whatsoever, but I didn’t get much rest. Although the Bishop’s Room is upstairs, because of the slope of the road outside, the window to the room is pretty much at street level, and it wasn’t long before the rumbles of morning traffic started to break my already fragile sleep.
During my solitary ghost hunt at the Ancient Ram Inn, I encountered a handful of notable occurrences. The first unusual event was a noise resembling door movement in the Men’s Kitchen while I was setting up the CCTV cameras. During my initial vigil in the same area, a thudding sound was captured on my lapel mic, unaccompanied by any corresponding movement in the video. This, coupled with consistent temperature changes recorded by the Thermal Anomaly Detector, and unexplained knocks during the sage trigger experiment, suggested that the Men’s Kitchen might be a hotspot for unexplained activity.
However, the evidence was insufficient to draw a definitive conclusion. Despite my best efforts to engage with the spirits, the investigations often resulted in minimal or no response. Most experiments did not yield significant paranormal activity, and even when adopting an aggressive approach in the Mayflower Barn, the response was minimal. The DJ set, the robot session, and my attempt to increase vulnerability by standing naked in the Bishop’s Room, although unique and immersive, did not result in significant encounters with the supernatural.
It was hard to ignore the potential impact of external factors on my investigation. For example, the sounds I initially thought to be unusual during the Men’s Kitchen vigil turned out to be cars passing on the road outside. Similarly, during my sleep in the Bishop’s Room, the rustling sound that awakened me was due to debris falling down the chimney, and my sleep was further disturbed by the noise of morning traffic.
The Ancient Ram Inn is an atmospheric and intriguing place to investigate, but I can’t say my investigation revealed any solid evidence that I encountered spirits of the dead there. The lack of intelligent interactions or responses during my various experiments further supports this conclusion.
That’s not to say I didn’t leave having experienced some unexplained events, like the strange burst of tapping heard in the attic. Despite the lack of definitive paranormal encounters, the experience was undoubtedly a unique and unforgettable one, offering a chance for me to really connect with the Ancient Ram Inn on a very intimate level.