Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Hellfire Club and the George and Dragon

A young author by the name of Michael in search of a good story found an unusual ghost story while researching England’s mysterious Hellfire Clubs.

Hellfire Clubs were early gentleman’s clubs in England. The members’ names were kept secret along with what these clubs did.

Both upper class men and women could join. What is known is they started on the premise that the members were free--in other words they shred the traditional rules--and members could do as they pleased--including drinking all day and mocking the church. This also included sexual freedom.

Rumors spread the members of these clubs were “devil-worshipers” * catching the attention of King George l who outlawed them in 1721.

Despite this, more clubs formed. Sir Francis Dashwood started one of these clubs in 1751. His members called themselves the Monks of Medmenham--one member was Benjamin Franklin.

Sir Francis Dashwood
Dashwood’s group originally met in an abandoned monastery. Dashwood had this inscription placed in stained glass above the entrance:

“Fais ce que tu voudras” or “Do what thou wilt.”

By 1752 Dashwood’s group of “monks and nuns” were meeting in a series of caves he had fixed up outside of the small village of Wycombe.

* In reality, the Hillfire clubs were not Satanists but they did follow the Pagan Mysteries.

George and Dragon Inn
Michael discovering these caves were open to the public traveled to the small hamlet of West Wycombe. He made reservations at the historic George and Dragon Inn located between High Wycombe and Oxford in Buckinghamshire.

He went to bed early wanting to be fresh for the next day’s excursion to the caves. Around 3:00 a.m. he awoke to a feeling he was being watched. There was enough moonlight streaming into the room that he had a clear view.

He spotted a feminine figure sitting at the rooms’ small vanity. This girl, who appeared to be a teen, was staring into a mirror.

Michael bolted upright when he realized she was watching him. She then turned around to face him. She was dressed in a simple white frock, cut in an old-fashioned style. A cloth was wrapped around her head.

In the moonlight it appeared to be pink. Michael froze wondering how he was going to explain the presence of this female in his room.

She then walked to the bed all the time staring at him and placed the back of her right hand against his cheek. Michael flinched for her hand was ice cold.

Studying her face closely Michael noticed the girl was quite beautiful but her face seemed to be twisted in consternation. She looked at him seeming to plead for help.

Still frozen in place he watched as she turned toward the window. She wistfully smiled and then slowly faded.

The next morning Michael wondered if he had just dreamed the girl the night before. As he paid for a ticket at the caves he asked the attendant how long he could stay.

This man told him that most did not stay long for several of the caves were small cramped spaces and many visitors became claustrophobic. He then told Michael others left quickly because of the ghosts.

Banquet Hall in caves.
The caves according to him had three ghosts. The first was a man dressed as a monk, the second ghost had been identified as Paul Whitehouse a good friend of Sir Francis Dashwood and a member of his Hellfire Club. When he died Whitehouse had his heart put in an urn and had it placed in the cave. The urn, minus the heart was still there.

The third ghost was of a young girl, a serving maid by the name of Suki who had worked at the George and Dragon. Michael realized it was her ghost he had seen the night before at the inn.

Through his research Michael discovered that Suki had worked at the inn in the early part of the 18th century.

A handsome nobleman, presumably a member of the Wycombe Hellfire Club had struck up a flirtation with her. Every time he passed through the village he would stop in to see Suki.

Several local boys became jealous finding Suki was “putting on airs and acting above her station” so they decided to play a prank on the naïve maid.

They wrote her a letter pretending to be her gentleman and in it they wrote he wanted to elope with her.

Suki left work one evening feigning an illness. She put on her best dress and headed for the caves. She went inside with a lantern and waited for hours.

But her lover did not appear instead she spotted three jeering faces. It was the three village youths who had played the trick on her.

Realizing she had been duped Suki flew into a rage and yelled and argued with the boys. In the heat of the moment a rock was hurled and it hit Suki in the head. She fell unconscious and bleeding to the ground.

The boys now afraid abandoned her. She was found dead the next morning.

Before Michael left the inn he interviewed the proprietor. This man was amazed that Michael had not known that Suki haunted the inn. He told him that most people visited the George and Dragon in hopes of seeing her ghost.

Suki’s ghost is seen in the inn’s upstairs bedrooms and on the staircase. She is seen wearing a bandage wrapped around her head soaked in blood.

Michael realized that was why the scarf around her head looked pink.

Suki is also seen walking out of one of the large supply closets in the kitchen. Her ghost is blamed for lost items and unexplainable cold spots felt around the inn.

The story goes she is waiting for her lost love. Michael waited for her ghost to appear the second night he stayed at the George and Dragon but she never did.

* Excerpts from Haunted Hotels retold by Tom Ogden 

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