18 Buckden Road, Brampton, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire
A sailor murdered a drummer boy between these two pubs by a sailor in 1780. The boy’s ghost appeared to Gervase Matchem, the murderer, on Salisbury Plain, after he had made his escape. It obliged him to confess, which he did. Authorities hanged Matchem at Huntingdon. The authorities gibbeted him at Brampton. For years, his skeleton swung in the village. Some of the village boys played a prank on another. They suggested he offer some hot broth to the corpse to revive him. This boy climbed up a ladder to the skull of Matchem with the soup and, as he offered it, another boy, with a deep voice said, “Cool it’’. The lad fell from the ladder, crashed his head, and with remained an idiot to the end of his days. Matchem’s ghost continues to walk between the two pubs wearing old-fashioned seafaring garb. Occasionally, he appears in the bars of each pub. For many years, there have been stories that the ghost of Samuel Pepys also haunts the Black Bull. Observers describe the ghost as a portly man wearing a long wig with black clothing. Pepys moved to Brampton from London to escape the plague from which several of his brothers had died. His uncle lived at what is now Pepy’s House. Samuel Pepys attended Huntingdon Grammar School, where Oliver Cromwell had been educated several years earlier. Standing next to the Black Bull is the church of St Mary Magdalene where Pepys worshipped. He records as having taken meals at the inn. Occasionally, he stayed there. On a wall in the restaurant is an extract from Pepy’s diary praising the landlady, Goody Stankers, for her beer, ‘fresh with a taste of worme wood, which ever after did please me very well’’.