An exclusive look at Alex Woodward's Haunted Weymouth:
The Cutter Hotel
Standing on the corner of East Street and St Alban Street, the ground floor of The Cutter gives the impression of being a rather compact, traditional wet pub, consisting only of a small bar room fronting onto East Street and a larger rear-bar reached via a side door on St Alban Street, or a small passageway between the rooms. However, upstairs is a different matter. The myriad of rooms reflects the true origins of the establishment, which was that of a large and busy steam-packet hotel.
The premises still offer rooms, but the importance of the business as a major hotel has now diminished. But it does seem that at least one former guest or bar worker was so taken with the place that they still pay regular visits from beyond the grave! Both locals and visitors enjoying a drink in the front bar have reported looking through into the rear room and spotting a female sitting up at the bar. Drinkers alert the bar staff that someone needs serving in there, but when the bar tender turns to walk through into the other area, the place where she was sitting is empty.
The woman is consistently described as blonde and attractive, and some have remarked that she is quite buxom too! Her age is a different matter; it has been judged as anything from late twenties to early forties. It’s been difficult to ascertain the exact time period she hails from, as she does not appear to wear any distinctive clothing or item of fashion that could help to identify a particular era, and none of the older regulars remember anyone of her description having a close association with the hotel in their living memory. Similarly, no one seems to have a clue as to why she should keep appearing at the rear bar. There is no record of any female deaths or murders at the property and, according to those who have seen her, she does not look distressed in any way, so it seems she had not suffered an event traumatic or upsetting enough to keep her spirit grounded. One suggestion is that she is a former landlady, still keeping a watchful eye over what was once her business, while another theory hints at the lady being engaged in a more dubious form of employment, perhaps frequenting the bar in order to meet ‘clients’.
In addition to the unidentified blonde woman in the bar, a much older female has been spotted, the last time being October 2010. A regular saw an elderly woman, with greying hair in a bun and shoulders draped in a dark shawl, walk from the door behind the bar, which leads to the cellar and the landlords accommodation, through the short lobby between the bars and out into St Alban street via the side door. The old woman has also been spotted sitting in the corner of the rear bar and smoking a clay pipe. The census of 1851 shows the landlord to be James Sly, who lived on the premises with his wife Harriet and his seventy-three-year-old mother Sarah. Could the sightings of an older woman be the spirit of Sarah, walking and smoking in death the same as she did in life?
While the sightings of long-dead visitors or occupants can be a little disturbing, whatever is residing in the cellar seems to be the cause of disruption in the flow of beer -- and that is not good as far as those serving and drinking are concerned! Bar staff often find that halfway through pouring a drink the gas runs out. However, when they go into the cellar to investigate, they find the gas taps have been turned off. Sometimes the taps will be turned off straight after they have been turned back on, resulting in staff yo-yoing between bar and cellar until either they or the mischievous spirit tire of the exercise. New barrels are also moved around at random.
Although the present landlord and his family have only experienced quite benign activity, a previous occupant was not so lucky. He claims to have always felt very uneasy in the cellar and in several of the upstairs rooms. This feeling culminated in an incident of almost actual physical harm when, one day, as he was leaning out of a bathroom window in order to paint the frame, he felt himself suddenly being pushed from behind. Thinking quickly, he dropped the paint tin and brush and grabbed the frame. The pushing became stronger and he eventually had to hold on with all of his strength until the force subsided.
Haunted Weymouth is available to purchase from The History Press.