The Barrels - 'Ghostly Noises in the Cellar'
This charming historic public house situated on St Owen Street is thought to date from the 18th century and was partly built over the former city ditch just outside of the city walls.
St Owen Street along with High Town, High Street and Eign Gate Street mark the site of the extra-mural road which adjoined the Saxon defensive ditch built early in the town's history.
The original name for St Owen Street, first recorded in AD 1296 was 'Hungreye' from the Old English 'hungor' meaning poor land adjacent to water or dry land in a fen. This name presumably refers to its proximity to the ditch. A tenement granted in AD 1364 in Hungreye was bounded by a land called 'Schytelone' (shit lane) which gives some idea of the state of the ditch at this time!
In the late 11th century a new town was laid out beyond the line of the old Saxon borough and new defensive works (corresponding to the modern ring road) were laid out to the north. The circuit remained the same to the west around the site of the Barrels but the ditch here was widened. Between 1224 and 1265 a stone wall was added to the defences, portions of which are still extant. A short (15m) length of standing city wall remaining to a height of around 3-4m is incorporated into the rear (eastern) side of 67 St Owen's Street (currently the Taste of Raj) which faces into the yard of the Barrels pub. The masonry is coursed flattish squared rubble and has a substantial lean to the east. Recent excavation in the courtyard for the insertion of modern buttresses discovered a berm in front of the wall at least 2m wide, and work on the inside (west face) of the wall showed that its base had originally been built up against an earlier rampart.
The presence of a large town wall prevented people from entering the town at any other point except the four gates, one of which (St Owen's Gate) stood near to the Barrels pub. This allowed tolls to be charged and contributed significantly to the income of the city at the time.
The Barrels pub was formerly known as The Lamb Inn and was built between 1787 and 1791.
It originally had a malt house, extensive stabling and a lock-up yard.
The first recorded landlord was a man named William Probert followed by William Langslow as head licensee in 1848. The Lamb Inn also functioned as a hotel for many years and the old Lamb Hotel sign can still be seen outside underneath the modern white paintwork. The inn kept the name until 1986 when its new owner changed the name to The Barrels.
The building today is a busy pub known for its beer and regular entertainment events, but behind this atmosphere of revelry hides a more sinister aspect.
The cellars have witnessed a number of paranormal disturbances including strange banging sounds after closing time when only the staff remain to witness the phenomena.
Objects are mysteriously moved about when no-one is present and the sounds of an invisible presence are heard walking and shuffling around the dark spaces. Pipes connected to beer barrels are frequently moved and inexplicably reconnected to different barrels as if a former landlord wanted to make his presence felt to the current occupants!
The Barrels is a wonderful example of a historic haunted pub with a period interior and welcoming atmosphere that seems unwilling to let go of its former occupants!
The haunted cellar of The Barrels is pictured below