Inside the village pub with resident ghosts and network of hidden tunnels

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A village pub with a history of myth and mystery is home to two resident ghosts and boasts a network of hidden tunnels.

Faye Tompkins and Richard Turner bought The Kings Arms in Winkleigh, Torridge, 2018 after it appeared on auction, reports Devon Live.

The couple who only had 28 days to get it ready to open its doors have spent the last two years regenerating the 17th century public house and have since discovered it has a rather mysterious past.

Originally named in honour of King Charles II in the English Civil War, the pub also carries with it tales of myth and mystery.

The owners claim that the pub is also home to spirits George and Cecelia, who delight in knocking over pots, pans and plates.

The 17th century pub boasts a network of hidden tunnels
(Image: Frankie Mills)

While George is adverse to change and shows displeasure by dropping breakables, Cecilia is mischievous little girl that hangs onto waiter's aprons and knocks over pans for attention.

Another tale told by the pub is that of Simon De Winkleigh, who in 1393 attempted to drive away a dragon frequently seen flying between Dolbury Hill and Cadbury Hill. Despite his initial success, the dragon returned and ate the man, leaving only his shield behind.

One of the pubs dining rooms also features a glass-capped hole, initially thought to be a well. When it was drained as part of an archaeological survey in 2002, the hole was found to contain a series of secret tunnels; one heading towards the village church and the other toward to North West.

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Faye said the tales surrounding the pub have been a great way to engage with families and make people proud of their village.

She said: "I love to tell stories. Most of the locals here can tell you a bit about Winkleigh's history, but I especially love telling children about the tunnels and our resident ghosts."

"At one point, we had a plastic skeleton down the hole, sitting at the bottom on a string and kids absolutely loved it. Sometimes we tell them that it's where we put people who don't pay their bill."

"I enjoy it because it's such a beautiful building, so it's great to be able to shout about it."

The pub features resident ghosts and a series of secret tunnels
(Image: Frankie Mills)

Faye said the pub was in desperate need of regeneration and have dedicated much of their earnings maintaining the building and rethatching the roof.

Faye said: "We didn't choose the pub; the pub chose us. It sounds a bit weird but as soon as we saw it, we knew we didn't have any other choice but to buy it."

"The pub was really run down and had gone through a series of managers. Back in its day, the pub had a glorious reputation for food and drink and was a vibrant heart of the village, but at that point it was at rock bottom.

"We loved the building and ever since buying it it's been a labour of love. The building has a real personality and a very unique soul. It loves being full and buzzing."

Getting the business going was not an easy job. Because the pub was closed before it was bought at auction, Faye and Richard had only 28 days of preparation time to get the Kings Arms open.

Faye said the couple were barely able to change clothes before the pub began service, but added that it couldn't have been possible without the support of the community.

She said: "The community were brilliant because we literally completed on the 7th and were open on the 8th of the month. We had no water on the first night and we had to get local plumbers in to sort out the heating. Everyone really rallied round and helped however they could before opening."

Faye Tompkins and Richard Turner bought The Kings Arms in 2018
(Image: Frankie Mills)

"Then, the whole village turned up on the first night. It was really busy and it was great to see the pub alive and bustling."

"At one point, we only had four wine glasses in the whole pub, but loads of people from the village came up to us asking what we needed and how they could help. It felt so good to have the pub full of people who cared about the building and supported what we were doing with the place."

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