Ghosts of the Vine

FROM ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night, Good Lord deliver Us.
The anonymous writer of that ancient ditty was obviously a believer in the ‘unknown’.
And whether we prescribe to the belief that the dead can walk the earth or not, sometimes it is simply impossible to explain the unexplained.
Sane, ordinary individuals have risked their credibility and respectability over the centuries by claiming they have brushed with the supernatural.
But we can only reveal what we think we saw or felt.
A sickly, cloying atmosphere when entering a house for the first time, a fleeting glimpse of a dark shadow when there’s no-one else around or just an uneasy feeling of being in the presence of unseen guests…

Ghosts Stories of the Vine

…one of which started in the days when inns along this coast, including the Vine in Skegness, were often the meeting places of sailors — and those whose activities were not always within the law.
Many a dark plot, it’s said, was hatched inside the Vine Hotel!

It would be suprising if a house that maybe dates back to the 17th century didn’t have a story to tell. The Vine, owned by county brewers Bateman, can be traced back to 1784 as a hostelry.

Purchased by Harry Bateman in the 1920s, the Vine’s secrets were inherited with the deeds.

His grandson Stuart Bateman remembers two stories: The first, the mystery surrounding the disappearance of a Customs and Excise officer who might have fared better if not visiting Skegness. The tale spans back to around 1843 when this unfortunate upholder of the law paid a visit to the Vine to check through the accounts. He certainly arrived at the inn, but failed to return home. In fact, he was never seen again.

Years later, extensive building work was carried out on the building. As builders ripped out dividing walls, they found more than they had bargained for. Bricked into a cavity behind a wall was a skeleton — still clad in the uniform of a customs man and his chain of office.

Stuart Bateman said he had been reminded of this very recently, when a friend of his was playing darts in the Oak Room at the Vine.

“He’s a fairly macho down-to-earth sort of man. But he is adamant that he saw a man dressed in Victorian-type clothing walking towards him.

“He backed away from the man and the image disappeared.” The apparition of a lady often seen wandering aimlessly through the rooms of the hotel could also be explained by another story Stuart related.

“When my granddad purchased the hotel from a lady called Mrs Durham, instead of paying her a lump sum, it was agreed he should pay her money each year for the rest of her life.

“He probably thought it would work out cheaper but the lady lady lived on to be a ripe old age!” laughed Stuart.

And so the story goes that lady, now long dead, still returns every year for money.

In 1993, the new managers at The Vine, Christine and Jim Middlebrook Childs remained open-minded about the existence of their non-paying guests!

But their daughter Jenny was given every reason to become a “believer” when, with a friend, she visited her parents recently.

Chris Childs explained how Jenny and her friend went up to their room to unpack.

“All of the coat hangers were fitted into the wardrobe with the exception of one wire hanger. She hung her coat on that hanger. The girls both went out.

“When they returned later in the evening, the wire hanger was outside the wardrobe…without the coat.”

Laughed Chris: “I suggested it might be a case of too many Bacardis but both girls insisted not. In fact they are both nursing sisters, pretty rational people.”

Chris said a common sighting in the Tennyson Lounge was that of a woman and her baby sat near to the fire.

A second member of the Child’s family would perhaps tell another tale of psychic phenomena, if only he could speak.

Chris reckons that her pet spaniel Ben blankly refuses to walk down a certain path running along the left hand side of the hotel.

“He won’t budge. I’ve always believed that animals have a sense that we quickly lose,” said Chris.

Chef John Steele has worked at The Vine for 22 years: “I’ve heard many tales from staff and guests over the years.

“Quite a number have heard the piano playing. Of course when they go to investigate, there’s no-one about.

-Strange sightings have usually been confined to the oldest part of the building. Room number 21 in particular. One lady who stayed in the room told me she had certainly met the ghost,” said John.

Receptionist Sharon Sylvester has worked at The Vine for 18 months.

One evening recently, Sharon was stood behind one of bars. Working busily, she felt someone brush past the back of her. She leaned forward in the narrow space to let whom she thought was another employee get past her.

“I even felt a cool breeze as they rushed past. I looked up and behind me but I was completely alone. I was stunned,” she said.

Whatever or whoever trails the old corridors and beautiful rooms of The Vine, one thing is certain, their past will haunt the present forever.

How the Vine Hotel looked in 1911
Ben the cocker spaniel refuses to walk this stretch running along the left of the hotel.

Source: Skegness News 27th October 1993


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