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Great Horwood: Ghost Hunt, Swan Inn
The Swan Inn, Great Horwood

As recently reported, lead by the bolder representatives of the Citizen a ghost hunt lately took place at the Swan, Great Horwood, to be rewarded by flying bottles, emotional outbursts and blurred visions. Humm, sounds like a typical night down my local. But so to the Swan. On May 28th 1781, during the space of two hours a great fire destroyed much of Great Horwood - including 16 farmhouses, 4 malt houses and 40 cottages - and practically all of the village had to be rebuilt. In consequence the Crown, constructed by John Harris, dates from around 1795, and no doubt the Swan is of a similar vintage. Indeed many of the landlords were members of local families, with Henry Harrup pulling the pints in 1847. Including a plumber and glazier, several of his family were engaged in village trades, as were those of George Viccars, who by 1864 had taken over the pub. However, although there were still Viccars in the village, John Tolson was the landlord by 1877, to be succeeded by Daniel Canvin by 1889. Arthur James held sway at the beginning of the 20th century, Francis Middleton was in residence in 1907, to be followed by William Sampson by 1915, and Alfred Marks by 1924. Within four years the position was occupied by Frank Jacocks, and perhaps he is remembered by some of the present residents, since he was still the landlord at the beginning of World War Two. During their investigation it seems that the Citizen’s ghost busters definitely witnessed some strange goings on, but nevertheless the present landlady seems sufficiently unfazed to continue happily serving her retail spirits amidst her resident spirits. Of little surprise, ghostly happenings have been reported elsewhere, and at Milton Keynes village at the 17th century Swan a ‘grey ghost’ supposedly haunts the rooms. As for Fenny Stratford, a ghostly presence was allegedly apparent at Dropshort Farm, on the Watling Street. This had been a coaching inn, but when the arrival of the railways decimated the trade the landlord hanged himself. Woughton on the Green also has a tale to tell, for even in recent years the ghost of Dick Turpin has supposedly been seen along Bury Lane, astride a dark horse and clad in a cloak, fancy waistcoat, black thigh high boots, and tricorn hat. As the story goes, prior to carrying out a daring robbery he called at the blacksmith’s shop, at the village pub, and paid the man a handsome fee to reverse the horseshoes of his mount. Thereby his pursuers were supposedly foxed when they tried to give chase, but whatever the truth it makes a good yarn. As for the Citizen investigation, an unreserved admiration must be afforded to the female reporting staff who, with note pad and night vision camera to hand, boldly ventured where others have feared to tread. But then this seems of little surprise, for - as my gender has long been aware - the realms that transcend understanding are not only the province of ghosts.