Beer and Spirits: A Guide to Haunted Pubs in the Black Country and Surrounding Area
By David Taylor and Andrew Homer
From the publisher’s website: Beer and Spirits offers a fascinating insight into the stories behind some of Central England’s most haunted pubs.
With over 50,000 public houses in the United Kingdom, the local pub has become an essential part of British culture. Samuel Pepys described the inn as the heart of England. Pubs have been an integral part of British culture since Roman times. The lives and dramas, intrigues and mysteries of the people who visited them form the rich tapestry of any local pub. As a result there are often many stories and histories that are inherently part of the place, and naturally ghost stories and haunted reputations form a dynamic feature of many local pubs. From spectral monks and phantom coaches, to ghostly highwaymen and supernatural hounds, the authors examine some well known and not so well known aspects of Black Country pub history and folklore.
While the stories and accounts in this book are not meant to offer any proof or conclusive evidence of ghosts, they do offer a fresh look at new and more traditional accounts of haunted pubs in the Black Country and the surrounding area.
Beers and Spirits. Amberley, October 2010. ISBN 9781848682665
Reviewed for the SPR by: Tom Ruffles
Amberley have published another volume in their useful series of gazetteers, this one linking those two natural bedfellows, paranormal research and pubs. David Taylor is the founder of the West Midlands group Parasearch, and has a wealth of practical experience. Andrew Homer is joint national investigations coordinator for the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena and managing editor of its magazine Anomaly. They are both good communicators and in this book they look at over sixty pubs in the Black Country, providing a readable mix of folklore, archival research and recent investigations.
.An introduction gives a potted outline of the evolution of the pub and theories of ghosts, and is followed by a guide to haunted pubs in the area. These are arranged alphabetically irrespective of location, which is fine when reading straight through, but for field reference a geographical index would have helped.
The authors end with two non-pub appendices, one on local sightings of Spring-Heeled Jack, the other an intriguing phantom hitchhiker case from 2000. The whole is well illustrated and attractively presented, and will be of interest to residents and tourists alike. The term Black Country may not be the greatest marketing name, but Taylor and Homer have provided ample justification, if one were needed, to visit this part of the country and sample its attractions, both earthly and otherwise.