One of my fascinations with my interest in the paranormal is exploring the history of alleged active locations. Now I have said before that if spirit does indeed exist, then shouldn’t they be everywhere? The first thing I look at is what makes the building tick and the stories it can tell from its past.
Situated in Bridge Street overlooking the River Mole in Surrey, The Running Horse in Leatherhead was built in the 15th Century although there has been an Inn on the site since 1403 and was originally named Rummings House after the infamous Eleanor Rummy. King Henry VIII’s poet John Skelton wrote a poem about her which can be seen on the wall of the pub today and a painting of Eleanor Rummy used to hang in the pub during the 1970s. It is not certain whether this has been moved or whether it remains in the building.
So who was Eleanor Rummy? Eleanor was the landlady during 15th Century and was accused of witchcraft. Legend has it that she was nailed into a barrel and rolled into the river via a tunnel leading from the pub’s cellar directly to the river; which was the route taken by her murderers so as not to be caught in the act. The witchcraft allegation was never formally made and no trial took place prior to the conviction and punishment of the (very probably) innocent woman.
An alternative version of events states that she was discovered to be watering down the ale. This angered the locals who accused her of witchcraft and spread rumours about the innocent woman before carrying out the most severe of punishments. She was apparently not the most beautiful of women to say the least and this may have added to her taunts!
The tunnel is no longer visible and there is no evidence that it ever existed at all although as with all ancient buildings, numerous renovations have been carried out over the many years of its existence and so it is possible that it has been blocked, sealed and hidden. Rumors of the pub being used as a regular meeting venue for smugglers during the 17th Century could be considered as further proof of the tunnel’s existence at least until around this time. Again, there is no documented evidence.
Robert and Susan Gibb (parents of Mandy, one of the team with my Spiral Paranormal group) managed the pub during the 1970’s and during this time, they reported a number of strange incidents including banging sounds coming from upstairs when there was nobody up there, constant feelings of being watched in the cellar, cold spots and the sound of footsteps with no visible owner. They had a dog at the time that was happy to roam around the building but refused completely to enter the upstairs room at the front of the building overlooking Bridge Street. In attempts to coax the dog into the room or to get to the bottom of the reason why she would not enter there, Robert put her food in the room over three days. Despite being ravenous, the dog still refused to enter the room, getting as far as the threshold and then stopping with her teeth bared and her heckles raised. As soon as her food was moved out of the room into the hallway she wolfed it down without a second thought!
On another occasion, Landlady Susan had finished cleaning the cellar which was a task she completed at the end of each day despite feeling most uncomfortable being alone there. She often felt the sensation of being watched and occasionally had a sense of panic - as if she wanted to run from the room. There was no obvious explanation for this feeling and is not a sensation she has experienced in any other building. On this particular day she noticed something shiny right in the middle of the floor she had just swept and on closer inspection she found it to be an old silver bracelet. It was the kind that had a compartment for holding a lady’s dance card and dated from the 19th Century according to a local jeweler to whom she took it for inspection. How this appeared in the centre of the cellar floor that had just been cleaned (and cleaned daily by Susan for the past three years) is a mystery to say the least. Only Susan and Robert were in the building at the time and the pub was closed so who was the original owner? Where did it come from and why? These are questions that have never been answered.
Staff working in the pub over recent years and even today also report similar experiences - the cold spots, the indisputable feeling of being watched, shadows moving across the upstairs hallway, doors opening and closing seemingly of their own accord. Could be the old building, warped wood, draughts etc or maybe it is Eleanor Rummy or one of her murderers?
There are also rumors of an overnight stay by Queen Elizabeth I when the River Mole flooded and became impassable although this cannot be verified. The Running Horse is a beautiful, old and atmospheric building with both a very interesting history and some fascinating tales to tell. Just think about the thousands of locations across the country that also holds intriguing stories like this. A place may have a reputation to be haunted but what of all the others with stories yet to tell?