A Haunting We Will Go – The Grenadier Pub

Tucked away down London’s exclusive Wilton Mews, on the corner of Old Barrack Yard, the patriotic Grenadier pub is painted red, white and blue and boasts a red sentry box that serves as a nod to the property’s military history. Reputedly, the Duke of Wellington’s Grenadier Guards used it as their mess. Inside it is small, dark, and cozy, the  paneled walls covered with military and Wellington memorabilia. Reputedly, the pub’s upper floors were once used as the officers’ mess of a nearby barracks, whilst its cellar was pressed into service as a drinking and gambling lair for the common soldiers.

A display at the entrance to the pub informs us that “18 Wilton Row was built circa 1720 as the home to the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards regiment and famously known as the Duke of Wellington’s Officers Mess. Originally named The Guardsman as a Licensed Premises in 1818, and frequented by King George IV, the Grenadier enjoys a fine reputation for good food and beer.” From the same display we also find out that the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards was created in 1656, and that 1st Guards were renamed by Royal Proclamation as the ‘Grenadier Regiment of Foot Guards’ because of their heroic actions against French Grenadiers at Waterloo in 1815. Continuing the Wellington connection, directly outside in the old Barrack Yard at the side of the pub is what is reputed to be the remaining stone of the Duke’s mounting block, whilst an archway down the nearby alley forms part what was once the barrack stables.

Here, a young subaltern is said to have once been caught cheating at cards, and his comrades punished him with such a savage beating that he died from his injuries.

The Grenadier is said to be one of the most haunted places in London. People who have worked there have quit after supernatural run-ins with a solemn, silent spectre reportedly seen moving slowly across the low-ceilinged rooms. Objects either disappear or else are mysteriously moved overnight. Unseen hands rattle tables and chairs, and a strange, icy chill has been known to hang in the air, sometimes for days on end. A ghostly face floats in an upstairs window and – the most common tale – the sentry box out front is haunted by the ghost of the dead subaltern.

So . . . a few years ago, on Saturday, August 3, 1996, I was at the Grenadier with Sue Ellen Welfonder (Bozzy) and two other women whom I won’t name because I haven’t seen them in years and have no idea whether or not they want to be associated with the following story. I don’t often talk about it myself, as it makes one seem as odd as those who claim to have been abducted by aliens or to have seen the Loch Ness Monster and Big Foot. We, Reader, saw ghosts. Not a ghost, but a circle of ghosts. Regency soldier ghosts, no less.

We could see that the alley beside the Pub led back to a yard with stable doors and a row of quaint single story houses along one wall. Very atmospheric, very historic . . . very tempting. What was back there? we asked. Let’s go look! we answered. What. A. Mistake. As you can see by the photo, a sort of alley runs beside the Pub and opens up at the end to the barrack mews.

We walked down the alley to the end, where the car is visible in the photo below. There was a car parked in the very same spot on the night in question. We got to the end of the alley and saw . . . . . a ring of ten to twelve men – soldiers, whose red coats had been thrown in a pile atop the cobbles. They wore breeches and boots and white shirts. They stood in a circle in the space between the front of the car and the stable doors – surrounding a man who was on his knees at the center of the circle, his face already bloody and bruised from the beating that had already been going on for some time (centuries?). These men were pissed off. Even taking into account the fact that cheating at cards was a much more serious offence then than it is today, their anger was beyond anything justified by such an offence.

We watched them as though we were watching a black and white film that was being played at half strength. That’s the only way I can describe it. The scene was playing out before our eyes, in the bricked space between the car and the black stable doors, the men utterly oblivious to our presence. The film ran for a minute, probably less in hindsight, and then flickered out. Except this film had something extra – this one had been filmed in “emotion-vision.” As we watched the ghostly events, each one of us could actually feel the anger and the venom that was being directed towards the poor schmuck on his knees in the middle of the circle. In fact, I think the strength of that collective emotion was more overwhelming to us than the fact that we’d actually just seen ghosts. The experience was so shocking, so unbelievable that I will be forever grateful that I was in the company of others when it happened or else I’d truly doubt whether it had taken place.

I suppose seeing ghosts is much like childbirth – the true horror of the experience abates with time and twenty-six years have since passed. I’ve been back to the Grenadier many times since, both alone, with friends and with tour groups. More recently, I’ve even ventured back into the mews and I’ve been taken into the private areas upstairs. I’ve never seen the ghost soldiers on the premises again, though several members of staff emphatically refuse to go down to the cellars. And just as emphatically refuse to discuss why.

This post originally ran in 2010 and has since been updated by the author. 

Is It Haunted? Of Course It Is – It’s England!

Generally, in England Halloween is not the celebrated holiday it is here in the United States. Of course, as happens all too frequently, it has crept Across the Pond and become more Americanized, but until recently there was simply no need to celebrate things that go bump in the night on one night of the year. Why? Because frankly when it comes to things that go bump in the night, Halloween is rather redundant in the UK. The entire island is a celebration of all things ghostly, ghoulish, and people who simply refuse to go into the light. One can hardly throw a rock without passing through the ghost of a Grey Lady, a White Lady, a Howling Banshee, or a Spectral Monk. However, even with all of this paranormal mayhem, there are certain rules which pertain to whom or what is more likely to be creeping about Mother England long after they might have gone on to the great tea room or pub in the sky.

Thus, we give you…


1. If one is any of Henry VIII’s six wives and one has been born in, died in, grew up in, lived in, slept in, visited, been executed in or near, or even driven or ridden by a building one must haunt said building. Choice of dress color is optional—grey or white is preferred.

Haunted Gallery – Hampton Court Palace. Katherine Howard is said to have escaped her guards and run down this gallery to catch Henry VIII in the chapel and beg for his mercy. Her ghost is said to repeat this last path over and over again.


Amberley Castle. A servant girl named Emily was supposedly impregnated by a bishop and tossed aside. She, therefore, tossed herself off one of the towers to her death. She is sometimes seen roaming the halls. More often seen repeating her leap from the tower.

2. If one is a servant in a particular house and one dies of either lingering disease or preferably some sort of gruesome death over unrequited love, being unjustly accused of theft, or the master (or his son) has got you in a delicate condition one must haunt said house—hanging oneself over and over again is good. Throwing oneself off a tower only to disappear is better. If it is accompanied by a great deal of weeping and moaning it is better still.



3. If one is a highwayman or other notorious outlaw and one has died at the hands of either the hangman or the militia in a desperate chase and shootout one is condemned to haunt either the place of execution or, even better, one is condemned to ride up and down the stretch of road one frequented or upon which one finally met one’s end. One’s horse is apparently condemned as well. Shouting “Stand and Deliver!” is optional.

Dartford Heath – Said to be haunted by Dick Turpin and other highwaymen who can be heard riding through the mist of an evening.


4. If one met one’s end in a pub or tavern, especially in some sort of tavern brawl or affair of honor, one must stop by said pub periodically. Not for a pint, but to scare the bejeesus out of the current patrons. If one is a tavern maid who was murdered in said establishment, committed suicide in said establishment, got lost on the way home from said establishment, or went walking out with the wrong patron from said establishment then one is condemned to hang around and give the place character as well. One is not allowed to drink whilst haunting, which seems a bit unfair, but those are the rules.

The Ostrich in Colnbrook Photograph taken 1905 © Crown Copyright.EH ref: OP14241
Over 900 years as a coaching inn and pub. Some 60 or more murders are attributed to a 17th century innkeeper and his wife. Is there any way The Ostrich isn’t haunted?


5. If one fought (and died, of course) on any of the numerous battlefields in the UK there is always the chance one might be condemned to haunt said battlefield. Loss of limb, or especially loss of one’s head is a certain bet one will be required to hang around said battlefield for eternity looking for one’s missing parts. Sending one’s horse to gallop about unseen in the mist is a possible out. Rattling one’s saber, firing cannons, and shouting “Charge!” are a safe bet.

The Battlefield at Culloden is said to be haunted by soldiers who died in battle there in 1746. It is said one can hear the sounds of pipes and drums and shouted battle cries at sunset.

6. If one was a monk or nun and died in the area of a monastery or abbey, the more gruesome one’s death the more likely one must haunt said monastery or abbey. Murdered by a king or at a king’s behest is guaranteed employment as a ghost for eternity. Especially if one’s death was particularly bloody and took place in said monastery or abbey. However, it is possible, if one was a monk or nun one is simply choosing to haunt said monastery or abbey. Apparently, monks and nuns have a great deal of trouble moving on.

Whitby Abbey – site of a spectral monk and inspiration for one of the locations in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

7. If one is the lady of the house, especially a castle or a stately home—the older the better, and one meets an unfortunate end, one might be required to haunt said castle or house. Murdered by a wicked husband, becoming ill after suffering a jilting or loss in love, being stood up at the altar and falling into a fatal decline, committing suicide by leaping from the tower, parapet or a particularly high window—any and all of these will do. Grey or white are the dress colors preferred, although red will do in a pinch. Oh, and if one had a dog of which one was particularly fond, said dog might be condemned to walk the parapets with one. On rare occasion said ghost dog might be heard howling in despair on the anniversary of his mistress’s death.

Samlesbury Hall – Haunted by the White Lady, Dorothy Southworth, whose Catholic family killed her Protestant lover the night they were to meet and elope. She is said to haunt the hall in search of her lover.

8. Moors in England are required, I do believe it is by law, to have at least one creature (known origins optional) to haunt said moor and frighten anyone unfortunate enough to venture out onto said moor, especially in the evening or at night. A moor might be haunted by a hound of unusual size and ferocity, a pack of hunting dogs lost by a careless master, a fiery horse (rider optional) lost in the bogs of the moor, Celtish or Roman warriors trapped in the bogs over the centuries, a howling creature of unknown origins or anyone ever lost or body-dumped on the moors by a savvy, but cold-hearted killer.

Dartmoor – The Moor – Home to Baskerville Hounds, witches burned or hanged or drowned and even a few Roman soldiers who never made it home.


9. Should one be a member of the royal family on one’s death, one is very nearly required to haunt various royal residences. This is especially true if one has suffered a horrible death or one has suffered the loss by terrible or premature death of one’s child or spouse. Should one be a royal murdered by yet another royal for reasons of royal coup or simply a family feud got out of hand, one is far more likely to be compelled to haunt. Crowns, and sometimes even heads, are optional. Oh, and if one is numbered amongst those bad kings or queens, one is simply doomed to haunt, just saying. Apparently dead royals are nearly as bad as monks and nuns about moving on.

Tower of London – White Chapel – The bodies of the Two Princes murdered by their Uncle Richard to obtain the crown were reportedly found here. The Princes are said to haunt the Tower, especially the chapel.

10. Dying at Number 50 Berkeley Square apparently guarantees one a spot on the haunting roster. Whether one’s death was horrible, frightening, or merely sad one has no choice but to linger around for eternity and wait one’s turn to disturb the peace of the house. There are so many spirits at this address there must be a ghostly social secretary to keep everyone in order. However, one is guaranteed a deal of privacy as hauntings are only allowed on the fourth floor and, apparently, the police, in typical British fashion have posted a sign in the house forbidding anyone to climb to the fourth floor.

“You say the rooms are haunted? Well, don’t go into those rooms!”

Number 50 is considered the most haunted house in London, but according to those who work at antiquarian booksellers Maggs Bros. Ltd., housed at this address for many years, nothing untoward has ever happened. Then again, they never venture onto the fourth floor. Ever. Would you?

Check out theparanormalguide.com for more information and great research on No. 50 Berkeley Square and other haunted places in Britain.

There you have it, a few rules for haunting in the UK. Even with the rules, those of us who love England might not find it too terrible a task to spend eternity there. Some of us would spend our years left with the living haunting England, if funds and time would allow!

Notes on Regency-Era Gentlemen’s Clubs by Marilyn Clay


Throughout my reading and re-reading of Jane Austen’s letters, I found only one notation that may, or may not, be a reference to one of the many London Gentlemen’s Clubs in existence during the Regency period. As nearly as I could determine, the sentiment was penned in August 1814 in a letter to her sister Cassandra. Wrote Jane, “Henry at White’s! Oh, what a Henry!” Following that, she says no more on the subject, nor does she enlarge upon it. But to exactly what occurrence she is referring, I haven’t a clue as she goes on to speak of other things, and never again returns to the subject of White’s. I speculated that perhaps some gentleman acquaintance of Jane’s brother Henry, who resided in London, had invited him to dine at White’s, and he had shocked his sister by accepting the invitation.

Believed to have been founded in 1698, White’s Club is perhaps the oldest gentleman’s club in London, and at the time it was called White’s Chocolate House. From the beginning, it was principally a gaming Club. The play was mostly hazard and faro; and no member was to hold a faro Bank. At the time, the game of whist was considered comparatively harmless, so was of no account. However, professional gamblers, who lived principally by dice and cards, provided they were free from any accusations of cheating, that is, sought admission to White’s in droves. Also considered a great supper-house, play was conducted both before and after supper and carried on to quite a late hour and involved excessive amounts. White’s dues were considered high, but many a gentleman raked in a fortune at the gaming tables, where stakes were even higher. Young men were known to sign markers in the hope that their wealthy fathers would soon die so they could pay up. Beau Brummell boasted that he once won £20,000 in a single night of gambling at White’s. Lord Carlisle was said to have lost £10,000 in one night, and was in debt to the house for the whole. At one point in a game, Lord Selwyn stood to win £50,000. Says Walpole: “Sir John Bland, of Kippax Park, who shot himself in 1755, gambled away his entire fortune at hazard. T’other night, [Bland] exceeded what was lost by the late Duke of Bedford, having at one period of the night, (though he later recovered the greater part of it,) lost two-and-thirty thousand pounds!”

In 1736, White’s became a private club, it’s politics being decidedly Tory. During the Regency, it was equally as famous for its Bow window, where Beau Brummell and Lord Alvanley flung insults at the fashionables who strolled by, as for its Betting Book, where the elite and bored placed bets on very nearly everything from births to deaths, marriages, horses races and politics. A stranger once passed out cold on the stoop and when he was carried into the house, wagers were taken as to whether the man was dead or alive!

In 1812, then owner John Martindale sold White’s to George Raggett who claimed to have made a fortune sweeping the carpet after the last of the gamblers staggered home. “It is my custom to sweep the carpet after the gambling is over, and I generally find on the floor a few counters, by which I have made a decent fortune.” Perhaps his boast was true as Raggett died wealthier than most of his club’s members.

Drinking and play were more universally indulged in then than at the present time, and many men recalled the multiple bottles of port that accompanied his dinner. Women amongst the upper classes in those days were most notoriously neglected; except, perhaps, by romantic foreigners, who were the heroes of many a fashionable adventure that fed the gentlemen at their clubs with salacious scandal. How could it have been otherwise with husbands generally always away from home, spending their days in the hunting-field, or occupied with politics? Dinner parties, commencing at seven or eight, frequently did not break up before one in the morning. There were then four, and even five-bottle men; and the only thing that saved them was drinking very slowly, and out of very small glasses. Lord Eldon, and his brother, Lord Stowell, used to say that they had drunk more bad port than any two men in England, consequently after a long evening begun at a fashionable dinner party hosted by the wife of one or another of London’s aristocratic gentlemen, who after escorting their wives home, reconvened at their club, and hours later, were understandably fit for nothing but bed.

Horace Walpole - Wikipedia
Horace Walpole

In 1770, Walpole expressed his opinion on the matter to Lord Montagu: “There is a new Institution that begins, and if it proceeds, will make a considerable noise. It is a Club of both sexes, to be erected at Almack’s, on the model of that of the men of White’s. Mrs. Fitzroy, Lady Pembroke, Mrs. Meynell, Lady Molyneux, Miss Pelham, and Miss Lloyd, are the foundresses.” A Mrs. Boscawen tells Mrs. Delany of this Club consisting of both lords and ladies who first met at a tavern, but subsequently, to satisfy Lady Pembroke’s scruples, moved to a room at Almack’s. “The ladies nominate and choose the gentlemen and vice versâ, so that no lady can exclude a lady, or gentleman a gentleman.” Ladies Rochford, Harrington, and Holderness were black-balled, as was the Duchess of Bedford, who was subsequently admitted. Lord March and Brook Boothby, to their great astonishment, were black-balled by the ladies. Dinner was served there, and supper at eleven. Declared Mrs. Boscawen, the play will be deep and constant. Frenzy for play at this time was at its height. Said Mrs. Delaney, who was not entirely agreeable to the notion of gambling, “Some men make profit out of it, like Mr. Thynne, who has won this year so considerably that he has paid off all his debts, bought a house and furnished it, disposed of his horses, hounds, etc., and struck his name out of all expensive subscriptions. But what a horrid reflection it must be to an honest mind to build one’s fortune on the ruin of others!” This new venture of a club for both sexes was not generally accepted or long-lived.

Boodle's Club – Number One London
Interior of Boodle’s Club

Another popular gentlemen’s club of the period was Boodle’s, which was chiefly frequented by country gentlemen. “Every Sir John belongs to Boodle’s—as you may see, for, when a waiter comes into the room and says to some aged student of the Morning Herald, ‘Sir John, your servant is come,’ every head is mechanically thrown up in answer to the address.”

Watier’s Club was the great Macao gambling-house, also of a relatively short period. Mr. Thomas Raikes describes it as very genteel, adding that no one ever quarreled there. “The Club did not endure for twelve years altogether; the pace was too quick to last and it died a natural death in 1819. Among the members was Bligh, a notorious madman, of whom Mr. Raikes relates: “One evening at the Macao table, when the play was very deep, Brummell having lost a considerable stake, affected, in his farcical way, a very tragic air, and cried out, ‘Waiter, bring me a flat candlestick and a pistol.’ Upon which Bligh, who was sitting opposite to him, calmly produced two loaded pistols from his coat pocket, which he placed on the table, and said, “Mr. Brummell, if you are really desirous to put a period to your existence, I am extremely happy to offer you the means without troubling the waiter.”

The Wyndham Club, partaking of the character of Arthur’s and Boodle’s was founded by Lord Nugent, its object being, as stated in Rule 1; to secure a convenient and agreeable place of meeting for a society of gentlemen, all connected with each other by a common bond of literary or personal acquaintance.” Situated at No. 11 St. James’s square, it was named after the mansion that had been the residence of William Wyndham, that gentleman being described as a model of the true gentleman, an accomplished scholar and mathematician. Writing of a visit Wyndham paid him, Dr. Johnson, said, “Such conversation I shall not have again till I come back to the regions of literature, and there Wyndham is ‘inter stellas luna minores.’”

Says Captain Gronow, in his Anecdotes and Reminiscences, “The members of the Clubs in London were persons, almost without exception, belonging exclusively to the aristocratic world. Tradesmen, referring to bankers and merchants, had not then invaded White’s, Boodle’s, Brookes’; or Watier’s, in Bolton-street, Piccadilly; which, with the Guards, Arthur’s, and Grahams, were the only Clubs at the West End of the town. White’s was then decidedly the most difficult of entry; its list of members comprised nearly all the noble names of Great Britain.” Of London’s Gentleman’s Club, it was agreed amongst gentlemen that it was a vulgar error to regard a Club as the rich man’s public-house as it bears no analogy to a public-house: it is as much the private property of its members as any ordinary dwelling-house is the property of the man who built it.

The above reflections regarding gentlemen’s clubs was taken from a chapter in my new book titled Jane Austen’s Regency England, which interweaves passages from the letters of the famed authoress as she lived out her life alongside the momentous events that occurred during the English Regency period. From the time of her birth until her death in 1817, Jane Austen managed to studiously pen her beloved novels even as she lived through the ever-present trauma and drama of the Napoleonic wars, the grievous loss of thousands of British soldiers on land and sea, the upheaval across the pond in the colonies, the angst of an English king gone mad, and the controversy surrounding the establishment of a Regency rule in England.

Jane Austen’s Regency England by Marilyn Clay is now available in print, Ebook and audio from all major online retail booksellers. Find it in paperback or on Kindle here. 



The Bugle Horn – A Pub Above

There’s nothing more quintessentially British than an historic pub. Pubs, or public houses, were far more than simply places to have a drink. They were the hub of a town or village, a place where residents gathered in order to share local and national news, to discuss issues particular to their community or where they could simply have a good chin wag or gossip. In his 17th-century diary, Samuel Pepys described the pub as “the heart of England.”

By the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution had brought with it larger, purpose built towns and increased demand for beer, gin and public houses. Newly built pubs drew decor inspiration from the increasingly popular gin houses and palaces, installing ornate mirrors, etched glass, polished brass fittings and lavish gilt ornamentation.

Examples of these ornate pubs can still be found throughout Britain, with several still serving in London. The Coal Hole, in the Strand and hard by the Savoy Hotel, is one such pub.

The Golden Lion in King Street could be the Coal Hole’s twin, in miniature.

‘Bells and whistles’ pubs have their place, certainly, but they aren’t what either Pepys or myself picture when we think quintessential British pub. The Bugle Horn, nestled along the Oxford Road in a quiet hamlet in the Vale of Aylesbury, is exactly that. It couldn’t be more perfect.

A few months ago, Victoria Hinshaw and I were staying nearby when we chanced upon the Bugle Horn. After our initial visit, we became regulars.

The interior of the Bugle Horn is a contemporary take on the buildings’ history,  successfully blending old and new elements in an inviting space that welcomes diners as soon as they walk through the door.

Historic surroundings, friendly staff, craft beers, a comprehensive wine list and open fires certainly make for winning ambiance, but let’s be honest – a pub’s success ultimately rests upon the quality of its food. At the top of the Bugle Horn’s menu are seasonal cocktails, but menu items are seasonal, as well. Fresh ingredients, vegan options, imaginative starters and favourites such as fish and chips, pies and Sunday roasts are all on offer and all delicious. And let’s not forget the puddings . . . . .

On our last day in the area, Victoria and I decided to have one last lunch at the Bugle Horn. We arrived slightly earlier than the noon opening time and so we relaxed at a table on the front terrace while we waited, taking in the surroundings and the sunshine. As we waited, a man in kitchen whites came around the corner and up to our table. He told us that his name was JJ, that he was the chef and that he’d seen us in the restaurant several times that week. He wanted to come outside and personally thank us for our patronage. One more aspect of the Bugle Horn to love.

In fact, I enjoyed the Bugle Horn so much, that it will be the setting for our Farewell Dinner during Number One London’s Town & Country House tour, May 2024. We hope you’ll consider joining us on what promises to be a one-of-a-kind experience. You can find our complete itinerary and further details here.



Hay-on-Wye in Wales has been called “the used bookshop capital of Wales” or “the town of books,” but whatever you choose to call it, Hay is definitely a book lovers heaven. Hay has been a settlement since 1135, but it became a mecca for used books in 1961 when bibliophile Richard Booth opened his shop in The Old Fire Station. Hay now has over 20 bookshops and has become the world’s largest secondhand and antiquarian book centre.

Some of the bookshops specialise whilst others carry general stock. The shelves in some shops are neat as a pin, others are arranged in higgedly-piggedly fashion and require a root through the stock in order to find treasure. As I did decades ago when I almost literally fell upon a random stack of Annual Registers on some neglected shelves in an annex at the back of a shop. Every bibliophiles heart will beat a tad quicker when presented with the possibility of finding such gems.

Because so many of our guests on Number One London tours are book lovers and/or authors, we’ve added a full day of book browsing in Hay-on-Wye to the itinerary of our Welsh Castles Tour in June 2025. An entire day of foraging in the stacks for hidden book treasure – bliss! You’ll find the complete tour itinerary and further details here. And you can view a list of Hay’s bookshops HERE. Most of the shops are open 363 days a year.

You’ll be able to get a taste of what its like to visit Hay by watching the video below. Update to the video – Hay Castle opened its doors to the public in May 2022, for the first time in its 900-year history, following a major 10-year restoration project.