Black Swan Hotel, Devizes, Wiltshire
Former pub, now a hotel. The current building was built in 1732. According to John Girven (local historian) the cellars date back to the 1600’s when a previous pub known as the Nags Head stood on this site.
It was owned by a notorious horse dealer and suspected highwayman, Ambrose Saintsbury.
In 1732, the building was re-built and renamed the Sergeant’s Head. The proprieter at that time was Francis Paradise, a former sergeant of the mace to the towns Mayor
In 1789, the building was leased to Walter Flay, and in the same year, was struck by lightening, causing severe damage to the stables
The cellars have five chambers which lead off from a central passage; however the rear of the cellar has been bricked up, blocking access to what is believed some extra 100 feet or so of underground tunnel, which runs under the establishment’s yard
In 1999, John Girven removed a brick from this area while investigating the suspected tunnel. This act allegedly marked the start of the severe haunting of the cellar area.
There is a story of a highwayman who was reputed to keep his horses stabled in such a tunnel along with a change of clothing. The story states that the man led a double life as a highwayman as well as respectable man about town. During a recent investigation, a man in a three cornered hat was seen in the basement.
Many guests who have stayed in Room 4 have reported the apparition of a young woman who sits in a chair and looks out of the window towards the Market Place. She is described as an attractive female figure with long blonde hair and dressed in a flowing white gown which drapes to the floor.
It has been reported that the young woman sits in the chair for a short time, before rising to her feet and gliding across the room past the bed and disappearing in to the wall. She is believed to have died during childbirth in this room.
The conference room is said to have a lot of poltergeist activity in it. Some ghosthunters who have visited the hotel previously have tried trigger object experiments, where an item was placed on paper. They were surprised to find that it had moved.
First Broadcast: 12th October 2004