Beers and Spirits
at the Bottle & Glass pub
Anyone who has ever visited my part of the world may well have found themselves walking the cobbled streets of the
Black Country Living Museum at one time or another. With it’s historic buildings, forges and even a coal mine to explore you would be forgiven for believing, if only for a moment, that you had walked through a time portal as the comforting smell of coal fires wafts under your nose and the haste of the modern world evaporates. Volunteers and Staff in period costume stroll by whilst others await visitors in their back-to-back houses where they will engage in wondrous story telling of times gone by. Visitors to the museum can be transported back to a time when children played with spinning tops in the streets, policemen tipped their helmet to greet passers by and women scrubbed their front step while gossiping about their neighbours.
As fascinating as this all is, these flickers of yesteryear rarely include details of a more other-worldly nature. Which is exactly why anyone with an interest in the more supernatural elements to our world should continue reading, especially anyone planning on visiting the museum!
As you meander across the bridge, past the Victorian pharmacy and infamous (and rather fabulous) chip shop you will already be aware of a rather imposing building directly in your line of vision. The Bottle and Glass pub originally stood on the Brierley Hill Road, Brockmoor backing onto the Stourbridge canal. It appears on a map of the area dated 1822, under the name “The Bush”.
By 1840 it was known as The Bottle and Glass and remained open under this name until 1979. It was purchased by the museum, carefully and painstakingly demolished, each brick numbered and rebuilt at the museum, once more backing onto the canal as it always had done.
The Bottle & Glass in its original location on the Brierley Hill Road
Now this is where it turns interesting. As anyone with an interest in the paranormal will know, there is a theory known as “The Stone Tape Theory’ which suggests that ghosts are simply an imprint, a recording absorbed by the very fabric of a building, which when the conditions are right, can replay to be observed by witnesses. Believers in the theory argue that this is why often when people report seeing a ghost, it does not appear to be aware of the living, and is simply going about it’s day to day tasks as had always been the case in life. The ghost stories associated with the Bottle and Glass pub would certainly seem to add weight to the theory, for as I mentioned previously, this pub was taken apart BRICK BY BRICK and rebuilt at a different location. So have some unexpected imprints accompanied the very fabric of the old Bottle and Glass?
Could the answer lie in the brickwork?
Recently I was chatting with a colleague who mentioned that he volunteered at the Black Country Living Museum along with his daughter, who often worked in the pub. He knew of my interest in the paranormal and asked me if I’d heard that the pub was supposedly haunted…
Apparently one day, my colleague was walking down the main ‘high street’ of shops towards the pub. It was about 9am and he had just changed into his period costume ready for the day ahead. As he walked, he noticed a man staniding in the window of the pub staring out. He was round faced with small circular glasses. He assumed he was another member of staff, or a volunteer and so raised his hand to signal a polite ‘good morning’ but received no acknowledgement. Thinking this was very rude my colleague carried on walking. He turned left down one of the many entryways that runs between shops, forgot the incident for the time being, and carried on with his day. Later that week, his daughter was serving drinks in the pub bar, when she asked her co-workers about the man with the glasses.
No-one knew who she meant, and at first she thought they were playing a practical joke on her, especially when they explained that she can’t have seen a man in the window, as at that time, the pub had not even been unlocked. She has now been working at the museum for almost 3 years and to this day, no-one has seen the man in the window again...yet.
The window seat where the 'Ghost' was seen
photo credit to Gary S. Crutchley
There have been a number of sightings of a ghostly man in the pub, often behind the bar and staff suspect he may be one of the pubs former Landlords, William Mullet who in 1871 was fined for “allowing drunkenness” in his pub.
Could the ghostly figure in the window be William? Does he still keep an eye on the place?
Of course pubs have a reputation as being hot-spots for paranormal activity. One reason for this may simply be the fact that a lot of people pass through them, more than a residential home for example. Pubs see quite a lot of action comparatively speaking, from arguments and fights to love and romance, you could argue that it all goes on within the walls of the public house. So could those walls become imprinted by the lives and stories of the living?
Another possible reason for the Bottle and Glass to be haunted could be its proximity to water, both now and in the 1800s.
Some paranormal experts suggest that water can act as a ‘carrier’ for supernatural energies, which is why for some, natural underground brooks and streams are of particular significance when identifying potentially haunted sites.
For visitors to the museum the Bottle and Glass proudly boasts a well stocked bar with 20 whiskeys, 30 gins and possibly 1 or 2 unexpected spirits!
With thanks to the Black Country Living Museum for their co-operation and to Adrian Horton for allowing me to share his story.