Tuesday, 22 May 2012
For many years it seems that there was a ghostly presence in the Old Forge - possibly the oldest building in Bridgetown, near Totnes, being around 600 years old. Now a hotel, the Old Forge was formerly a wheelwright’s shop, a smithy, a coach building works and a hay barn. It even has a small lock-up that once accommodated offenders waiting for the magistrate holding court in an upstairs room!
It’s thought, in fact, that there were once two ghosts – one being a welcoming elderly lady in the lounge, the other an entity named ‘Harry’ believed to have been the last blacksmith to work there.
Some hotel guests back in the 1980s repeatedly heard ‘blacksmith’ sounds coming from the smithy at night. Oddly, only guests heard these. They were never heard by the then hotel owners, Peter and Jeannie Allnutt, who had revived the smithy via a successful wrought iron business.
Then one day a titled lady arrived with a ceremonial sword that needed repairing. As its handle was richly bejeweled Peter was uncertain how to do the repair without melting the jewels, so he shelved it temporarily. However, before long he found that he knew exactly what to do – and it was his firm belief that this knowledge had come to him directly from Harry as he couldn’t imagine where else it had come from.
Subsequently he felt this ghostly presence regularly, guiding him in his work, right up until 1991 – after which Peter, all too conscious by then of Harry’s absence, came to believe that he was now trusted to work on his own in the forge that had meant so much to its former owner.