WHO'S A PRETTY GHOST?

The Haunted New Inn, Coleford, Devon

The New Inn, with its whitewashed walls and dark thatched roof, is a spellbinding hostelry whose name belies an antiquity that stretches back to the 13th century.

It nestles in a tranquil pastoral setting, by the babbling waters of a picturesque stream.

It even boasts its own resident parrot - the chatty and chirpy blue-fronted Amazon, Captain - who, at 16 years old, can lay claim to being the inn' s third-oldest resident.

First in the pecking order is the phantom monk, Sebastian, whose earthbound wraith has been chilling the marrow of staff and customers alike since long before living memory.

According to one version of the story, Sebastian met his fate when he chanced upon a gang of sheep and cattle stealers who were dividing their spoils at the inn.

When he threatened to inform on them the villainous rustlers murdered him.

Another tale, however, depicts Sebastian as having been a lustful friar who embarked upon a passionate affair with a local lady.

One night, en route to an illicit liaison, he somehow managed to fall into the stream and drowned.

Whatever the cause of his death, its trauma has caused his ghost to remain behind at the inn, and many guests have felt a cold chill as his invisible shade glides silently past them.

From time to time a female entity has also been seen about the premises, and a male guest even had a brief encounter with her in his room.

He was sitting on his bed when he smelt a faint whiff of perfume.

Suddenly a glowing light began to form before him, and he watched spellbound as it assumed the indistinct shape of a woman that glided across the room and then disappeared.

He later recalled that his experience "wasn't at all scary, quite pleasant, in fact."

The possibility that the ghost was that of Sebastian's lover coming back for a final phantom fling has been mooted.