The Ostrich Inn is one of the oldest pubs in England and it is said to be haunted. It is located in the village of Colnbrook in Berkshire and is believed to date back to 1106. The inn has a gruesome history and was the scene of 60 grisly murders committed by the landlord, John Jarman and his wife.
The Ostrich inn used to lie on a popular route for stagecoaches traveling between London and Bath. Weary travelers would often take a break from their journey to stay overnight at the inn. Many of these travelers carried large sums of money, something that would seal their fate with the murderous Mr Jarman.
Over time, the greedy landlord devised an elaborate method for killing the unsuspecting travelers. He would get them drunk on strong ale and offer them his best room. He called it The Blue Room.
What they didn’t know was that Jarman and his wife had secretly installed a large trapdoor under the bed that was just above the kitchen. The bed was nailed securely to this trapdoor and the mattress was attached to the bed.
When he was sure that the guest was asleep, Jarman would say to his wife, “There is now a fat pig to be had if you want one.”
She would answer, “I pray you put him in the hogsty till tomorrow.”
Then, the landlord would remove the two iron bolts in the ceiling of the kitchen that held up the trapdoor, causing it to come crashing down. The guest’s bed suddenly tilted at a 45 degree angle and they would slide down, falling head-first through the trapdoor into a huge vat of boiling water.
Before they knew what was happening, the poor victims would be boiled alive. Jarman would then steal all of the victim’s money and belongings and sell their horse and clothes to gypsies. The corpses of the victims were disposed of in the nearby Colne River.
Jarman’s cunning plans began to unravel when he murdered his last victim, a wealthy clothier by the name of Thomas Cole. After boiling the poor man alive, they forgot to get rid of his horse. It escaped from the stable and was found wandering the streets. People knew that the rich man could not have left without his horse and suspicion began to fall on the landlord of the Ostrich Inn.
Jarman’s fate was sealed when he tried to murder the next guest who stayed the night in the Blue Room. They say the weary traveler climbed into bed, but before he went to sleep, he needed to go to the toilet. He got out of bed again and was peeing in the chamber pot when he heard a strange noise behind him.
Looking around, he saw the bed tilting down and spotted the vat of boiling water below. He raised the alarm and his shouts awoke the other guests in the inn. The police were called and Jarman’s wife was arrested. The innkeeper fled, but he was soon captured.
Jarman was discovered hiding in the nearby forest and when they interrogated him, he confessed to murdering over 60 people. The judge found him and his wife guilty of robbery and murder and they were both hanged by the neck until they were dead.
The Ostrich Inn is still in operation today, but as far as we know, the current landlord doesn’t murder his guests. Over the years, many members of staff have reported seeing ghostly figures roaming the upper floors of the inn. These sightings mostly occur in the bedroom where the murders took place.
Strange noises are also heard in the corridors at night and objects have been seen moving by themselves. Staff have opened locked rooms to find lights and electrical equipment switched on. There have been reports of feelings of despair and cold spots in the downstairs ladies bathroom. Years ago, this was the pantry where Jarman stored the dead bodies of his victims.
The Ostrich Inn was featured on “Ghost Hunters International” and the paranormal TV show “Most Haunted”. During their investigation, a psychic claimed to be in contact with many of the ghosts of Jarman’s victims. The story of the Ostrich Inn is said to have been the inspiration for Sweeney Todd.