Book Haunted Inns and Hotels in County Durham

The Ancient Unicorn

The Street, Bowes

A sad story from the 18th century is the background for two ghosts that haunt this four centuries old coaching inn. It is the story of Edwin and Emma, whose families were both innkeepers: the Wrightsons at the King’s Head and the Railtons at the George. This is now the Ancient Unicorn. Their families were opposed to their love affair. They had to meet in secret. On Shrove Tuesday, 1713, Roger went down with a serious fever. Three days later, he died. Martha died shortly afterwards from a broken heart and both were buried in one grave at St Giles’ Church. They manifest as ghosts at the Ancient Unicorn, walking together on infrequent occasions. This sad episode was immortalised in ballad in 1750, called ‘Edwin and Emma’. Observers have seen the ghost of a boy, aged about twelve, in the beer cellar wearing Victorian style clothing and a peaked cap.
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