Location: Banchory, North East Scotland
Date of Encounter: April 13, 2004
First a bit of background — I live in a fairly small town in the North East of Scotland, popular with tourists, very picturesque etc. The High Street is the main town center and has three pubs spaced along it. My partner works as a bar manager in the last pub as you leave the High Street — The Douglas Arms.
The building is one of the older ones in the town (it was a coaching stop on the way to Balmoral, and also at one point had its own brewery on the site) and is a real rabbit warren of rooms and old doorways. The interior has changed at least twice in the last 16 years with new rooms being created and the function of others changing.
When the landlord and landlady decided to go on their first family holiday in years, they asked my partner Harry and the head chef, Tattie, to cover for them and stay in the hotel rooms above the pub. I decided to stay too and Harry and I took room 8, on the left hand side of the hotel at the back, just over the lounge bar.
Knowing that when people are staying in the rooms above the lounge you can hear stairs creaking etc. I was expecting to hear all the bar noise from downstairs — I didn't go to bed until almost closing time if I could help it. The first night I went upstairs to bed alone whilst Harry and Tattie closed the other bar and checked that everything was locked up.
As I was drifting to sleep, my heart began racing and I found it difficult to breathe, I just put this down to being in a strange room for the first time and tried to sleep again. I had barely closed my eyes when I began to hear two voices (one male one female) and they seemed to be arguing although the sounds were muffled as if I was listening through a wall. I also didn't dream at all — everything was black behind my eyes (highly unusual for me as I have the most vivid dreams!).
This was pretty freaky as I knew that no bookings had been taken for the week and the rooms on either side were empty, plus the floors creaked so loud I would hear anyone walking in the hall or to the other rooms. Needless to say I had a really crappy night's sleep but managed to get up at 6 AM and go to my own work. All day I felt uneasy and 'watched', my heart would keep racing too.
I got back to the pub and decided to go up to the room alone and get changed. As I walked into the room I felt my pulse race again — putting it down to too little sleep I ran a bath. I left the bathroom door open so I could hear the TV and just tried to relax in the water. I am quite tall so I couldn't get stretched out in the bath so I was lying on my back with my legs bent and to the left and I was trying to read a book. All of a sudden I caught movement out of the corner of my eye just by the doorway.
Turning my head I couldn't see anything and put it down to reflection from the TV or something. Then it happened again so I put my book down and watched the doorway. When I did this I realized that it couldn't be the TV screen flickering as it was pointed towards the bed! After having a long night and an even longer day I was rightly hacked off so I said out loud "P*ss off and leave me alone!"
Nothing else happened until later when I went to bed alone again. As I drifted off I had the same pulse-racing feeling again. Then the voices came again, a little clearer this time but speaking in the same pattern — definitely an argument but I still couldn't hear what was being said, this time there was also a light behind my eyelids — like watching through a hood or from under a sheet (I don't sleep like this because I hate having my head covered).
After having another crappy night's sleep I asked my partner what he thought and he told me to ask Tattie what he thought. Tattie told me that the room we were staying in was right next to the landlady's room and one of the first times she had locked up at night (incidentally she didn't anymore) she had heard an argument coming from behind the door of our room. Thinking that maybe it was a domestic between two residents she tried to ignore it. While trying to ignore it she was also listening (as you do when there's gossip) but couldn't hear the actual words through the wall. She also heard the TV being turned up louder and louder. Now believing them to be causing a disturbance to the other guests and possibly about to hurt each other, she went out into the hall and knocked on the door. There was no answer so she called out for them to keep the noises down and went back to her room. After a few more minutes the din started up again so she went down and got the master key, announced she was coming in and unlocked the door. She found the room empty, the bed made and the TV off — no-one was booked to stay in that room!
After I had been told this I freaked out — I had been hearing the same noises! Apparently, way back, the rooms upstairs hadn't been divided into guest rooms and were used as a conference room for private parties. One night after one such party a man had discovered his wife had cheated on him at the party and they got into an argument, resulting in him strangling her! We haven't found any exact reference to this incident but there have been murders at the pub.
One such incident happened back when the pub was still a hostelry — stabling horses and carriages round the back, with a large courtyard where the restaurant now stands. In modern times the first barmaid on in the morning would always find a half-pint of Export (draught bitter) sitting on the edge of the bar, normally reserved for staff to put drinks and cigarettes. The drink appeared just to have a sip taken from it. The lounge doesn't have a tap for export so this would have to have come from the other bar on the other side of the pub and none of the staff working there at the time would drink export — and certainly wouldn't leave it for the first shift to clean up. It was later discovered that a barmaid had been working one morning and had just poured herself a half pint when a man came into the courtyard on his horse. He obviously wasn't happy with the animal or something because he took his whip and began to beat the poor thing with it. Not wanting to get involved the barmaid took a sip of her drink and watched from the window (now a serving hatch). After watching for a few minutes she decided to intervene, left her beer on the end of the bar and went into the yard. The horseman turned on her and after killing his horse, he beat her to death with the same whip.
I would love to find out if anyone else has any stories about this pub, as the new owners are really interested. Have you stayed or worked there and have a story to tell? Please get in contact!