Mermaid Inn

History Uncovered Episode 89:
The Mermaid Inn, England’s Centuries-Old Haunted Hotel

Published October 6, 2023

The storied Mermaid Inn dates back to the medieval period and has hosted the likes of pirates and smugglers who are said to still wander its halls today.

Ever since its construction circa the 12th or 13th century, England’s historic Mermaid Inn has played host to a wide array of guests — some of whom allegedly remain there to this day, centuries after their deaths.

Some visitors have reported seeing a “lady in white” moving about the inn, passing through closed doorways and occasionally standing at the foot of their beds. Others say they have seen the apparition of a man walking through walls, sometimes with women or children in tow.

In 2002, a camera crew visited the Mermaid Inn and captured floating orbs on film. A year later, a psychic medium held a séance in Room 15, during which her voice started to change inexplicably and the spectral figures of a man and a dog suddenly entered the room. One guest at the séance said they reached out and felt the dog’s fur.

Next door in Room 16, patrons have claimed to witness a duel between two ghostly men – a clash that ends with one man defeated, dragged into the adjacent room, and thrown through a trapdoor into the cellar.

Room 17, meanwhile, is named for Thomas Kingsmill, a leader of the infamous Hawkhurst Gang who once made the Mermaid Inn their secondary base of operations. It’s said the room is haunted by the spirit of a woman who had been married to another of the Hawkhurst Gang’s leaders, Arthur Gray.

On occasion, the room would become icy cold and a rocking chair in the corner would rock on its own.

Mermaid Inn

Tony Hisgett/FlickrThe Mermaid Inn today, near the Port of Rye in Sussex.

The Hawkurst Gang may have been responsible for the presence of another ghost at the Mermaid Inn as well, that of a young maid who had been dating one of the gang’s smugglers. Fearing that she knew too much, the Hawkhurst Gang murdered the woman, dooming her spirit to be forever trapped within the walls of the inn.

Nevertheless, the inn’s current owner, Judith Blincow, said she hasn’t experienced any of these paranormal phenomena herself – but stories from guests and staff have convinced her that it is indeed haunted.

And if any location were to be haunted, the Mermaid Inn would most certainly fit the bill. It has stood in the same spot for nearly 800 years – although it was once burned to the ground and later rebuilt – and in that time has seen a large number of guests pass through its doors.

The Mermaid Inn’s rich, and sometimes violent, history is excellent fodder for a ghost story or two. From the fire that destroyed the nearby Port of Rye in 1377 to the murders committed by members of the Hawkhurst Gang, the Mermaid Inn has seen more than its fair share of ghastly incidents. Who knows, maybe it really is haunted.

Learn more about the haunted history of the Mermaid Inn.

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