Home   Sudbury   News   Article

Seeking the phantom of room four at the Bull Hotel in Long Melford where ghost expert Marie Winterbone will lead a Halloween-themed paranormal evening



More news, no ads

LEARN MORE


Is this what they mean by shivers down your spine? There is a real chill in the air and I suddenly feel as if someone is pouring ice cold water down my back.

“Don’t worry,” says Marie Winterbone, who has sensed the presence of spirits from an early age. “They’re just letting us know they’re here.”

We are standing in a quiet corner of a hotel with a reputation for being one of the most haunted in Suffolk.

Marie Winterbone in the Bull Hotel’s Room 4 where she senses the spirit of a ‘very angry man’. Photo by Mecha Morton
Marie Winterbone in the Bull Hotel’s Room 4 where she senses the spirit of a ‘very angry man’. Photo by Mecha Morton

This is not, however, the centuries-old part of the building where you could easily imagine the ancient beams holding on to echoes of the past. Nor are we in the notorious haunted bedroom.

It is happening in broad daylight in a modern extension. But being in an un-spooky setting does not mean there are not spirits around from earlier times.

Marie tells me the cold sensation does not mean anything negative, and that she gets a positive feeling. And to me it doesn’t feel scary, just strange.

Ghost expert Marie Winterbone at the Bull in Long Melford. Picture by Mecha Morton
Ghost expert Marie Winterbone at the Bull in Long Melford. Picture by Mecha Morton

Whatever it is, it is unlike anything I have ever felt before.

There are no draughts - the net curtains hang motionless and the air conditioning is not on. When, after a minute or so, we move to the centre of the room it stops as quickly as it began.

We are at the Bull Hotel in Long Melford where next week Marie will be leading a Hallowe’en-themed paranormal evening.

And it seems the former coaching inn which dates back to the 15th century is fizzing with spiritual energy.

The Mylde Lounge, thought to be haunted by a murder victim and his killer. Picture by Mecha Morton
The Mylde Lounge, thought to be haunted by a murder victim and his killer. Picture by Mecha Morton

Marie, who runs her regular Sensing Spirit group there, knows only too well that this is a hotel where not all the guests check in at reception.

Most of the ghostly residents are happy to co-exist with everyone else. But there are a couple who occasionally take exception to having to share.

Room four has become famous as the haunted bedroom. Marie says it is occupied by a spirit she describes as a “very angry man”.

Although many, many people have slept there undisturbed, some have had unnerving experiences.

Marie Winterbone in the Mylde room. Picture by Mecha Morton
Marie Winterbone in the Mylde room. Picture by Mecha Morton

As we open the door and go in I ask her: “Is he here?” Yes, is the reply. Baffled as to how to address a ghost I say “morning, sorry to disturb you”. Our photographer Mecha starts taking pictures.

“Is he angry now?” Marie pauses. “More bemused, I’d say.” Over time she has also gained the impression that he doesn’t like women.

We linger a while then leave the room four phantom in peace. As I glance back at the door, she says, not entirely reassuringly: “I don’t think he’s followed us.”

That, I have to admit, spooked me.

Some theories link the haunting of room four to a murder that happened at the Bull in 1648.

Yeoman farmer Richard Evered was stabbed to death by Roger Greene during a heated argument about politics. The murderer was later hanged for his crime.

Richard’s body was laid out in the hotel awaiting collection by his family. But a story persists that when they arrived, it had disappeared.

The murder victim might sound a likely candidate for the baleful presence in room four, but Marie, who lives in Hartest, has a different take on the story.

Her Sensing Spirit class has dowsed with rods and pendulums in the hotel’s Mylde Lounge and believe they have contacted the spirits of Richard and Roger.

What’s more, killer and victim seem to have patched up their differences and no ill-will is detectable between them.

“I felt they were quite friendly, and happy to be there,” she said. “The Mylde is my favourite room to work in because there is lots of history there.”

Worldwide there have been countless cases of unexplained phenomena - invisible at the time - appearing in photographs.

Marie has taken numerous pictures at the Bull and encourages her group to do the same.

Some, taken in darkness, have captured images of people including a woman with a baby, and a man Marie believes to be a Norman soldier.

One of the clearest was taken in the Mylde lounge by a guest at the hotel’s first paranormal dinner in 2016.

Distinctly visible at the side of the frame is a man whose large white collar resembles 17th century attire, and Marie is convinced this is Roger Greene, the murderer from 1648.

This ghostly image of a man in 17th century attire appeared in a photograph taken by a guest at a paranormal dinner at the Bull Hotel, Long Melford in 2016, and posted on the Winterbone Paranormal Facebook page
This ghostly image of a man in 17th century attire appeared in a photograph taken by a guest at a paranormal dinner at the Bull Hotel, Long Melford in 2016, and posted on the Winterbone Paranormal Facebook page

Across the courtyard from the main hotel is a conference suite on the site of the former stables.

And here lurks another of the less friendly spirits, nicknamed Mr Bumble. The name comes from a character in Oliver Twist who is cruel and pompous but henpecked.

Again Marie has the feeling he dislikes women, and may in life have done something very bad to a woman. “Our all-female group were having a class in the conference suite and were just going into meditation.

“All of a sudden there was a massive growl from the corner of the room.” She demonstrates. The sound is not a pleasant one.

“I believe he may have worked in the stables. He doesn’t want to move on.” She adds that centuries ago people who had done something really wrong might believe they would go to hell, and want to stay put.

The ghastly growl was not the end of Mr Bumble’s antics. The group sensed his eerie presence in the toilets, and blame him for setting off a fire alarm in the conference suite which saw the hotel evacuated.

Much less alarming are the World War Two airmen who have been seen in the bar, which was much used by servicemen stationed nearby.

Just down the road from the Bull is Borley, where the former rectory was once known as the most haunted house in England.

Psychic researcher Harry Price stayed at the Bull while investigating the terrifying phenomena at the Victorian rectory destroyed by fire in 1939.

The hauntings were thought to stem from the tragic tale of a medieval nun who fell in love with a monk from the monastery that once stood on the rectory site.

They planned to elope, but were caught. He was hanged. She was bricked up alive in the monastery vaults. After the rectory burned down part of a woman’s skull was dug up in the cellar.

It is a popular belief that ghosts are tied to a place. Marie, who is currently writing a book about her life, says this can be the case but some are able to move around and, for instance, visit loved ones.

She grew up on a farm in Norfolk. “I remember as a child feeling different. I would have strange dreams and visions and could sense and see spirit energy.

“I knew there was a different dimension, that there was a spirit world and my connection to it had already been made. In fact I was born with the connection. However, I wouldn’t realise this until later in life when the time was right.”

She worked in insurance and local government, but her childhood fascination with ghost stories - that began when she read the story of Borley Rectory - remained.

“When I moved into my house in Hartest, my son Lewis was three, and my daughter Karine was a baby. In my son’s room I could sense a presence. One time I went into his room and could smell beer. Even my ex-husband Paul, my children’s father, could smell it.

“I said to the spirit I don’t mind you being here, but please don’t frighten Lewis. He spoke to me in a very Suffolk accent, and said ‘I’m just looking out for the boy’.”

By this time she had qualified in reflexology, body massage and anatomy and physiology and later became a reiki master teacher.

The first time she met her husband, Kevin, she introduced herself by saying: “Hi, my name is Marie and I speak to dead people!” He replied ‘Hi, my name is Kevin and so do I!”

Driving to visit him, she says she often saw spirit people at the side of the road, including a woman in a 1960s trouser suit who she believes was there to warn her she was driving too fast.

She and Kevin married in 2012 and run Winterbone Shamanics, which offers services including spiritual development courses and workshops.

The ‘Haunted Halloween Dinner’ at the Bull is on Friday, October 29.

Read more: All the latest news from Suffolk

Read more: All the latest news from Sudbury