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Eerie Nottingham ghost tales of phantom footsteps, a haunted highwayman and a spectre of soldiers

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Ghostly apparitions and spectral wanderings are ten-a-penny in theatres up and down the land, but Nottingham’s Theatre Royal harbours a spooky tale more spine-tingling than most. Back in the 1880s a chambermaid working at the County Hotel, next door to the Theatre Royal in the city centre, chanced upon a visiting actor.

Before long, the Casanova got the girl pregnant, before rapidly moving on to his next conquest. The story then takes a very solemn turn. These were Victorian times, and the scandal of being an unwed mother back then was too much for the poor girl to bear, so she sadly took her own life… and a ghost was born.

This may have been getting on for 150 years ago, but even today many believe the eerie sounds of unwelcome noises offstage are actually the troubled young lady’s footsteps…

READ MORE: The hidden pub zoo where a puma terrified the regulars and a baboon had it shut down

As legend has it, the Salutation Inn in Maid Marian Way could well be the most haunted pub in the country. Some claim to have felt the presence of a dark entity patrolling the upstairs attic, while others have seen a ghostly highwayman downing a beer at the ground floor bar.



The Theatre Royal and County Hotel pictured in 1957. The phantom of a tragic chambermaid is said to haunt the theatre's corridors - have you heard her footsteps?
The Theatre Royal and County Hotel pictured in 1957. The phantom of a tragic chambermaid is said to haunt the theatre’s corridors – have you heard her footsteps?

And that’s not all, for a legion of spectral Roman soldiers have also been seen marching through the cellar. A member of staff clocked the ghostly battalion emerge from one of the cave cellar walls many years ago. The striding phantoms would tramp across the ground before disappearing through a wall on the opposite side.

Elsewhere, a former landlord – known only as ‘John’ – is said to still be haunting the Salutation to this very day. Some say they’ve seen his spirit inside the walls and in the caves below, where stones have mysteriously risen up and moved around of their own free will.



Quite the spectre-cal - The Salutation Inn, Maid Marian Way, in 1946.
Quite the spectre-cal – The Salutation Inn, Maid Marian Way, in 1946.

Another well-known apparition is Rosie, a young street urchin who died around 150 years ago. There are tales of her scuttling about the premises and darting out of view whenever anyone catches her eye.

These tales have been handed down from generation to generation, and the Salutation has a history stretching back farther than most. It has been home to an ale house for hundreds of years, with a plaque on its wall saying the present house was built around 1240 on the site of the 13th century ale house known as The Archangel Gabriel Salutes The Virgin Mary.

During the first Civil War 1642-1646, part of the House was used as recruiting rooms for both factions. The original still-existing cave system is said to be a Saxon farm later used for servants accommodation and brewing.



What was that noise? Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem pub, in Brewhouse Yard.
What was that noise? Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem pub, in Brewhouse Yard.

The Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem pub, in Brewhouse Yard, also has its fair share of ghostly goings-on. Anyone who has stepped into the bars hewn from the Castle rock face are greeted by an eerie atmosphere that effortlessly conjures up the supernatural.

It is said the hostelry is haunted by Queen Isabella, also known as the She-Wolf of France, who was the scheming widow of Edward II, King of England and Lord of Ireland from 1307 until deposed two decades later. Isabella and her beau Roger Mortimer were arrested in Nottingham Castle in 1330 by her son, Edward III – fearing a plot to take his throne. The King, with a hand-picked band of supporters, stormed the building through a cave entrance known as Mortimer’s Hole.

The namesake Mortimer was bound and gagged before being dragged through the passage and whipped off to the Tower in London. Following a short trial for treason, he was hanged at the city’s notorious Tyburn gallows.



The haunted Elephant Rock and the entrance to Mortimer’s Hole at Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem pub. A murderous gang entered through here in the 14th century and captured Roger Mortimer, the lover of Queen Isabella
The haunted Elephant Rock and the entrance to Mortimer’s Hole at Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem pub. A murderous gang entered through here in the 14th century and captured Roger Mortimer, the lover of Queen Isabella

Legend has it that during the Second World War, some visiting servicemen heard Isabella’s tormented ghost crying out for her lover’s safety. Her mournful wailing of ‘Bel fitz, eiez pitie du gentil Mortimer’ (‘ Fair son, have mercy on the gentle Mortimer’) left an indelible mark on the GI’s already traumatised by conflict.

Are you familiar with the eerie tale of The White Lady of Newstead? A chilling story, if ever there was one. The titular White Lady was a certain Sophie Hyatt, who met her untimely fate outside Nottingham’s historic Black Boy pub, which stood on Long Row opposite the city’s Council House.

Sophie was a huge admirer of Lord Byron’s poetry and came to live on a farm near his old ancestral Newstead Abbey home, long after the poet had sold the estate to Colonel Wildman. Deaf, mute and painfully shy, Sophie would communicate through chalk and slate that she’d carry around with her.

The aforementioned colonel took pity on the girl and granted her permission to stroll the grounds, with her book of poems. One night, leaving a note for the Wildmans, the poverty-stricken Sophie set off for Nottingham hoping to catch the stagecoach to London before joining family in America. Colonel Wildman ordered a rider to intercept Sophie and offer her accommodation in the grounds of the abbey for the rest of her days.



The grounds of Newstead Abbey where a White Lady is said to walk
The grounds of Newstead Abbey where a White Lady is said to walk

When the horse and rider reached Nottingham’s market square they found a massive crowd congregated outside the Black Boy pub. The rider got off his horse and pushed through the throng only to find poor Sophie dead on the ground. She had been hit by a cart after failing to hear the warning shouted by the beer deliverer.

Since then, her ghost can be seen wandering around her precious Newstead gardens, particularly along the path known as White Lady’s Walk. Do you have any ghost stories of Nottingham to share? Let us know in the comments below.

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