The Cardinal’s Hat, Worcester, Worcestershire

Between 1100 and 1540 Worcester Cathedral was one of England’s principle places of pilgrimage, and numerous ecclesiastical inns were established to provide shelter for the travellers who came here.

One of the few to survive is The Cardinal’s Hat, which has the distinction of being the oldest inn in Worcester.

The first reference to it was in 1497 when it became one of the depots for the city’s fire hooks.

Fire was a constant threat to the thatched buildings of medieval England, and long hooks, used to tear down the burning thatch, were kept at ‘hook houses’.

Over the centuries that followed the inn changed its name several times, becoming The Swan and Falcon in the 18th century, then The Coventry Arms in 1814, as the owner attempted to ingratiate himself with the Earl of Coventry, then Recorder of Worcester.

It didn’t actually revert to its original name until the 1950s, and it was at this time that rumours of ghostly goings on at The Cardinal’s Hat began to circulate.

Successive landlords came to realize that the place was haunted. In a nice reversal of the norm the temperature in a front second-floor bedroom often increased whenever supernatural phenomena occurred.

One landlord recalled how he had been unpacking some boxes in the room when suddenly it became steaming hot.

He went out into the corridor but found that the temperature was normal; on re-entering the bedroom he found it had returned to normal there too.

Many people before and since have experienced similar phenomena around that room.

Witnesses have spoken of seeing a girl, wearing a white nightdress and with long blonde hair, drifting along the corridor outside.

Tradition maintains that she is the ghost of a young woman, possibly an innkeeper’s daughter, who died in a fire in the room in the early years of the 20th century.

In 2002 charismatic Austrians Anton Limlei and Andrea Schutz bought the pub and transformed it into an authentic Austrian bar and restaurant.

Today lederhosen and dirndl dresses are the order of the day, whilst the beer, wine and food are specially imported from their homeland.

They have grown used to their ghost – whom they have no doubt is benign – and have named her Emilie. Although they have never seen her, they have experienced the occasional spectral prank, such as items being moved around or even disappearing. But a shout of "Stop it, Emilie" is enough to ensure that order is quickly restored!