The Black Lion, Brighton

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According to a longstanding tradition, this fabulous 16th Century pub is haunted by the shade of Derek Carver. Carver was a Protestant martyr who achieved local fame as the 'first brewer in Brighton' and was burned at the stake in 1555 for refusing to recant his religious beliefs.

Beneath the pub are extensive cellars and it is here that Carver is said to still linger in the shadows. It was Carver himself who built the pub in 1546 and he used the cellars to worship and hold secret Protestant meetings. As this was during the resurgence of state Catholicism in the reign of Queen Mary (known to history as the Marian Persecutions) Carver would have known that he was at considerable risk should he be discovered.

In 1554, Sheriff Edward Gage uncovered his activities and he was arrested. After 8 months in Newgat Gaol he refused to renounce his fate to the Bishop of London. Already in very deep trouble, he fair signed his own execution warrant by comparing the Pope to a pudding. Thus he became the first Protestant martyr of the Marian Persecutions - burnt at the stake in Lewes (now, ironically, notorious for its yearly burnings of Catholic effigies on Bonfire Night).

When his ghost was first reported is not known, but by the 1940s it was a well-established tradition that his presence could be felt in the cellars. In 2007 the manager of the pub, Pauline Davy, told the Argus:

"Everybody talks about the ghost and - though I've never seen it- there is a place in the cellar where we can feel something. It is a scary presence, as if something might have happened there"

As well as this nebulous 'presence', the ghost is reputed to have moved barrels of beer around and been sighted at an upstairs window by a builder in the mid 90s.

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Author: Ian Freud   |  Last updated: 14th September 2014 | © Weird Island 2010-2021
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