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Spooky: 'Our punters always return'

PUBLISHED: 15:11 28 October 2009 | UPDATED: 11:10 23 August 2010

THE Celts believed spirits returned to earth on Halloween, but for some historic pubs in the borough, they never left. As thousands prepare to celebrate the spooky season this weekend, spare a thought for some of the ghostly characters that inhabit Grave

THE Celts believed spirits returned to earth on Halloween, but for some historic pubs in the borough, they never left.

As thousands prepare to celebrate the spooky season this weekend, spare a thought for some of the ghostly characters that inhabit Gravesham's watering holes.

The Darnley Arms in Cobham dates back to the 12th century and it did not take long for new landlord Kevin May to realise he was not the only one in charge of the pumps.

Sir Thomas Kemp, a fifteenth century aristocrat, stayed at the pub the last night before his execution was due in Rochester.

When he received a last minute reprieve, Kemp returned to The Darnley Arms to live there for his remaining years, and continues to haunt it to this day.

But Mr May, who only took over management six months ago, is slowly learning Sir Thomas is not the only spectre he is sharing with.

He said: "Speaking to locals, in the last 10 or 15 years there have been three sightings of somebody they refer to as George.

"I haven't been able to get a lot of details but the previous owners actually performed an exorcism 10 years ago.

"There is clearly a lot of history attached to the building but it has not put me off. It's great to hear some of the stories, even if the haunting season is upon us."

The Long Hop in Meopham also hosts a ghostly George, known for lingering at the top of the cellar stairs and recognisable by his old loafers.

Landlord Boyd Collins admitted he had not seen the spirit himself, but staff had seen bottles move from the shelf and glasses randomly smash without anyone nearby.

"The previous owners did warn me about George, but I have never seen him," he said.

The Earl Grey in Northfleet's ghost is so far nameless but has certainly made its presence felt. Landlady Janice Williams describes her as "mischievous" due to her tendency to linger around one corner of the bar, cause glasses to break, sets of darts to disappear, only to reappear at the bar, and to cause sudden chills.

She added: "We had a new barmaid who hadn't been told about the ghost, and when I did say something she was relieved, saying she had felt a presence but hadn't wanted to say anything.

"It is just mischievous, no-one has got hurt so it doesn't really bother me.

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