A Skull Goes Skulking: Bizarre Theft from 518-year-old Haunted Pub
A haunted pub in England, that brands itself as being the “most haunted” in the city of York has suffered a most peculiar loss. The replica skull of a frequent visitor to the Golden Fleece, who was hanged in 1800, has been removed from its display case between the 2nd and 3rd January 2022, and has been stolen!
Sharing their anguish at “Elizabeth” being removed from her rightful resting place, the pub owners posted an appeal on social media, reports the Mail Online:
“Help needed. Unfortunately over the course of last night/today someone has taken it upon themselves to remove Elizabeth from her resting place. This is beyond us why anyone would want to take her and we sincerely hope the culprit had a lapse of judgement and will return her to us ASAP.”
The Golden Fleece in York is said to be a haunted pub. (The Golden Fleece)
The Haunted Pub: The Ghosts of the Golden Fleece
Located in the city of York in north Yorkshire, the Golden Fleece, which started off as an inn, has a 518-year-old history. It prides itself on being the most haunted pub in the city and if the paranormal phenomena reported by its owners and staff are to be credited with any truth, it would probably rank among the most haunted in all of England.
There have been 15 sightings of ghosts wandering around the buildings according to the Metro. Apparently the ghosts belong to different periods of history. One is said to be that of Lady Alice Peckett, whose husband John Peckett owned the pub when he was mayor of York in the early 1700s.
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Another is of a 16th to 17th century redcoat—a British Army soldier—called One Eyed Jack. The spirit of a World War II Canadian airman is also said to haunt the precincts. Even the ghosts of Roman soldiers, who would have to predate the pub-inn, have been sighted in its cellars.
In 2015, a team of ghost hunters, led by supernatural specialist Susanne Taggart, claimed to have photographed the apparition of a former landlord of the haunted pub who had hanged himself. “It was very dark and it clearly is the lurking shape of big person as you can see the head and shoulders, but the only person in the shot was the girl behind the bar and you can see her on the left,” said Taggart.
“There was a kitchen door behind the figure but it is completely obscured by this shadow,” she continued. “None of us could believe it. Quite a few people in our group were shook by the photo and we found it very unsettling.” Bar workers, meanwhile, have said they feel their necks tightening while working behind the bar at the haunted pub and have seen glasses being swept off the shelves for no apparent reason.
Images of the stolen replica skull before it was stolen from the haunted pub. (The Golden Fleece)
Why Was Elizabeth Kept in a Haunted Pub?
When it was still an inn in the late 18th to early 19th century, the Golden Fleece enjoyed the custom of a certain Elizabeth Johnson. The lady was executed for passing a forged £1 note and two forged half-guineas at Knavesmire on 23 August 1800, reports the Examiner. The £1 would have been worth all of £89 (about $120) today. Add to that the “intent to defraud the bank of England” and her crime was believed to merit hanging!
Elizabeth’s hanging is believed to have been the last execution at Knavesmire, which is less than 2 miles (3.2 kilometres) from the Golden Fleece. The replica was commissioned at the time and donated to the haunted pub where she had been a regular visitor.
The Golden Fleece clarified that the skull was a replica and not the real thing after social media owners expressed distaste at a grisly display of human remains by the haunted pub. “This is obviously not Elizabeth’s real skull,” they highlighted. “We believe she frequented the Fleece when it was an Inn and this was made and donated to the owner at the time, although the entire story is not fully known.”
The stolen replica skull in its display case before it was stolen from the haunted pub. (The Golden Fleece)
The Theft of a Skull and a Social Media Storm
The owners of the Golden Fleece hope that their urgent appeal on social media will serve to reunite them with their lost property. But in case it doesn’t suffice, they have threatened they will hand over CCTV footage, which seems to have yielded a positive identification of the thief, to the police: “If we do not receive Elizabeth back in the next couple of days this will be handed to the police. This is not something we want to do as we hope this was just a silly mistake and a lapse in judgment and hope the culprit will return her safely back to us,” reports the Metro.
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The Golden Fleece post about the stolen skull has created a veritable social media storm, what with it being shared over 600 times and eliciting almost 200 comments from outraged Facebook users. These comments range from disbelief to dire wishes that Elizabeth haunt the thief. It is to be hoped, however, that Elizabeth returns to her rightful resting place and doesn’t add to the haunted pub’s legion of “restless” spirits.
Top image: A replica skull has been stolen from a haunted pub in York. Source: bint87 / Adobe Stock
By Sahir Pandey