GHOSTLY GOINGS-ON: Barman Keith Bassett in the cellar of the Prospect Inn on Exeter Quay MATT AUSTIN EE221209_MA2_08
IT’S the time of year when one of the country’s youngest festive spirits sends shivers down the spines of regulars at an Exeter pub.
As the story goes, on Christmas Eve a little girl carrying a rag doll is said to appear in the upstairs’ living area of the Prospect Inn, at Exeter Quay. She smiles sweetly at any witnesses, before quickly fading away.
The story dates back to 1870 and has captured the interest of the country’s biggest ghost hunting company which says the sighting is one of the most intriguing it’s ever come across.
The Prospect’s current tenant, Mark Cameron, 41, has presided over the pub for the last eight years. He has yet to witness the ghost.
“Apparently previous owners saw a seven or eight year-old girl with long blonde hair on Christmas Eve,” he said.
“She is said to have walked along the narrow hallway in the upstairs’ living area in a long, flowing, cream-coloured night dress carrying a rag doll behind her.
“It is the talk of the older people in the pub at this time of year.
“TV’s Most Haunted has contacted me several times to come and do a show here,” he said.
Mark added that Christmas was not the only time of year there was paranormal activity at the pub.
“On numerous occasions the last person to lock up the cellar and then open it in the morning — including myself — has noticed the gas cylinders, connected to the beer lines, turned off, when they were on the evening before,” he said.
“Several people over the years have also reported an empty beer barrel moving from one end of the cellar to the other, overnight as well.”
Ady Taylor, 44, of Hatherleigh, managed the pub for almost 10 years before Mark. He also recalls many supernatural occurrences.
“Apparently, an electrician who was working in the attic, saw the little girl and was so shocked he just legged it — he didn’t come back to finish the job.
“It is possible she could exist — there doesn’t seem to be an explanation for a lot of other things that have happened over the years.
“A previous couple who managed the pub had a daughter who, apparently, would sit at the top of the stairs by the attic and chat to someone. When her parents asked her who she was talking to, she said she was talking to someone on the other side of the attic door. Maybe it was the little girl. I am sceptical, but there were other things that happened there that I could never find explanations for.”
Ghost-hunting company Fright Nights’ research director Martin Jeffries says the Prospect Inn’s Christmas Eve ghost is one of the most intriguing in the country.
“About six months ago we started a research project into the country’s strangest Christmas ghost stories,” he said. “We wanted to find out if the stories were dying out,” he said. “The story about the little girl appearing on Christmas Eve at the Prospect Inn really intrigued us. I regard it as being one of the most important ghost stories we have.
“We’d be really interested to hear from people who may have any information about her, such as her origins, or anyone who has seen her.”
You can contact the company at www.frightnights.co.uk or call 0207 4316930.