Birmingham’s Haunted Heritage
In the run up to my favourite time of year, Halloween, I have decided to do a few posts about haunted places in and around Birmingham!
My first choice is the oldest pub in Birmingham, The Old Crown in Deritend. It is Grade 2* listed, and is the only surviving medieval building in Birmingham city centre, claiming to date back to 1368. A chalkboard inside notes that it has “seen off Civil War Soldiers, Victorian town planners, and a few centuries worth of drunk Brummies.”
Most of the building is 16th Century, and was one of Birmingham’s very first school buildings. John Leland visited Deritend in 1538, and wrote to his master Henry VIII describing the Old Crown as “a fair mansion of tymber”. In 1575, Queen Elizabeth the 1st even stayed here whilst travelling back from a party at Kenilworth Castle! It also saw some action during the English Civil War, when Royalist forces led by Prince Rupert tried to take hold of the city, and heated skirmishes were fought around the building. It was the last building standing against Rupert and his armies in an event which was later labelled the “Birmingham Butcheries.”
Many times town planners in the Victorian era sought to demolish the Old crown in order to “improve the street”, but the building was fought for, not once but twice, by Joshua Toulmin Smith, and thanks to his efforts it survives to this day.
Down to the haunting part! The Old Crown is said to be haunted by two ghosts, though the chalkboard says these sightings occur “late at night after a few drinks!” Several sightings have been reported around the old well thought to have been sunk 1000 years ago, such as a lady in old fashioned attire who disappeared shortly after walking to the bar.
Another ghost dressed in what was described as Victorian attire was also seen in the cellar, and up in the bar bottles have been known to jump from the shelves seemingly of their own accord! There have also been sightings of a shadow like shape moving through a wall where old photographs show there was once a door, and many patrons have been startled by being tapped on the shoulder only to turn around and find no one there…
All very spooky goings on, but we unfortunately encountered none on our visit! Just delicious food, and warm hospitality. You could certainly sense the history of the building, and given the grizzly battles that were fought around it, I would not be at all surprised if some of the souls that perished linger still…
Craig jordan May 30, 2019
I lived in the pub most of my childhood my nan and grandad had it Margaret and Ted Jones. Me and my family have seen and experienced many things supernatural people disappearing things going through walls objects moving footsteps coming towards you with no 1 around it is very haunted I lived there from a baby to my mid teens the place is extremely active
Robbie Smith April 3, 2020
Hi Craig, I’m doing a uni assignment on this structure and wondered if you could help?
Robbie Smith April 3, 2020
Hi Craig, I’m doing a uni assignment on this structure and wondered if you could help? email@example.com
John Tighe June 9, 2015
The Old Crown is not the oldest PUB in Birmingham. Not by a long chalk! In fact, most of the pubs in Digbeth and Highgate are older pubs than The Old Crown.
Nicholas Duffy July 25, 2014
While I understand that ‘ghosts and hauntings’ are – for whatever, peculiar reasons – regarded as somewhat ‘taboo’ by a lot of historical researchers, I must stress how refreshing it was to see such related entries on this website!! Believe in ghosts or not, it is obvious that such a subject is very much part-and-parcel with our historic sites and buildings in many instances and, as a result, should be celebrated as part of their history……..
Thank you very much for taking the time to emphasise this aspect of our cultural history….
West Midlands Ghost Club (Est. 1989).