Monday, January 9, 2012

The Murders at the Ostrich Inn

Mailcoach at the Ostrich Inn

The Ostrich Inn is one of the oldest inns and pubs in the UK. Documents and records date it back to 1165. The Inn that stands today was built in the 1500s. It is located near the ancient village of Colnbrook and was originally a popular coaching inn located on the main stagecoach route from London to Bath. 

Many ghosts have been seen at the inn. This paranormal activity is attributed to one of its former landlords who was a serial killer.

The Ostrich Inn story reminds me of America’s first serial killer H. H. Holmes of Chicago’s Murder Castle with the exception that the Ostrich landlord appears to have been more prolific. 

A man by the name of Mr. Jarman was the landlord at the Ostrich in the 17th century. Just like Holmes he preyed upon the guests that stayed at the inn he ran. 

Jarman’s victims were weary travelers who stopped at the inn in order to rest up and change clothes before they made their appearance at Windsor Castle. These travelers carried vast sums of money with them in order to buy the court’s favor. 

When Jarman discovered the wealth they carried with them it sealed their fates.

Over time just like Holmes, Jarman devised a very methodical and diabolical way of killing his unsuspecting victims. He would ply them with strong drink and offer them the ‘best room’ in the inn. 

Once he was sure his victim was asleep Jarman would remove two bolts from the kitchen ceiling below. This caused the bed where the victim slept to tilt down at a 45-degree angle, which resulted in the inebriated guest sliding out of the bed into a vat of boiling fat that lay below. These poor victims were killed instantly.

Jarman would then take their horse and clothes and sell them to close-lipped gypsies. He disposed of what was left of their corpses in a nearby river. 

Jarman was able to get away with these murders for many years until one traveler that fell asleep in the booby-trapped bed woke up and got out of the bed to use the chamber pot. As he turned he spotted the head of the bed tilting down and saw the boiling vat below. This man’s shouts awoke other guests and Jarman’s murderous activities finally came to an end.

Jarman was hanged for his crimes and before he died he boasted he had killed 60 people. A working model of the tilting bed, which was a four-poster, is still on display at the inn today. 

The following is stated to be the original account of the murders, in this account it appears Jarman had help from one or more men that probably worked for him at the inn:

“This man should then be laid in the chamber right over the kitchen, which was a fair chamber, and better set out than any other in the house: the best of bedstead therein, though it was little and low, yet was most cunningly carved, and faire, to the eys, the feet whereof were fast-naild to the chamber floore, in such sort, that it could not in any wise fall, the bed that lay therein was fast sowed to the sides of the bedstead:

Moreover that part of the chamber whereupon this bed and bedstead stood, was made in such sort, that by pulling out of two yron pinnes below in the kitchen, it was to be let downe and taken up by a draw bridge, or in manner of a trap doore: moreover in the kitchen, directly under the place where this should fall, was a mighty great caldron, wherin they used to seethe their liquor when they went to brewing.

Now, the maen appointed for the slaughter, were laid into this bed, and in the dead time of night, when they were sound a sleepe, by plucking out the foresaid yron pinnes, downe would the man fall out of his bed into the boyling caldron, and all the cloaths that were upon him: where being suddenly scalded and drowned, he was never able to cry or speake one word.

Then they had a little ladder ever standing ready in the kitchen, by the which they presently mounted into the sid chamber, and there closely take away the mans apparell, as also his money, in his male or capcase: and then lifting up the said falling floore which hung by hinges, they made it fast as before.

The dead body would they take presently out of the caldron and throw it downe the river, which ran neere unto their house, wherby they scaped all danger.

Now if in the morning any of the rest of the quests that had talkt with the murdered man ore eve, chanst to aske for him, as having occasion to ride the same way that he should have done, the Goodman would answere, that he tooke a horse a good while before day, and that he himselfe did set him forward: the horse the Goodman would also take out of the stable, and convay him to a hay-barne of his.”

Thomas Cole, one victim of Jarmans, is said to be one of the ghosts that haunts the Ostrich Inn. The town of Colnbrook is supposedly named after him. 

Many ghost hunter groups have investigated the inn over the years. They state that the room where the tilting bed was located and the dinning room next to it both have a strange oppressive atmosphere. These groups have recorded unexplained sounds and have captured some strange anomalies on film.

A more recent landlord, who was a die-hard skeptic when he first started working at the Ostrich Inn, was quoted as saying:

“Strange noises, ghostly figures and objects moving by themselves are all in a days work if you’re employed at the Ostrich Inn.”

This backs up my favorite old adage, “Seeing is believing.”

Two of the other ghosts at the inn are a Victorian lady and a shadowy figure that have been seen wandering the upstairs corridor. 

Many staff members at the Ostrich have entered locked rooms where the lights and electrical equipment are all switched on. 

Downstairs near the ladies restroom, where Jarman would have stored the bodies of his victims, cold spots have been felt and some are overwhelmed with feelings of despair.

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