Sunday, 18 April 2010

A Ghostly Duke in York

Seen rather more often is the tall gentleman in a rich velvet jacket festooned with lace who haunts the Cock and Bottle pub. This is George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham who lived in Yorkshire in the later 17th century and was a frequent visitor to the inn. Like others in his family, Villiers was remarkably good looking and possessed of such wit and elegance that he was said to be the most charming man in England.

Buckingham fought bravely for King Charles I during the civil war and lost his estates when Parliament won the conflict. The restoration of Charles II in 1660 saw Buckingham reclaim most of his wealth and lands. After the years of penury and exile, Buckingham decided to enjoy his new position to the full. The scandals and debauchery that followed became legendary and put a severe strain on his friendship with the new king – though Charles II was himself no stranger to riotous living. George wrote amusing and popular plays, chased actresses and fought duels with a determination and that amazed people.

It was after getting involved in politics and finding himself on the losing side in a bitter dispute in 1673 that Buckingham gave up his life at court for a more relaxed, though scarcely more sober lifestyle in Yorkshire. There he made frequent visits to York to indulge his tastes for fine wines, food and women. He must have liked the Cock and Bottle, for his ghost has been appearing there ever since his death in 1687.

This is an extract from Ghosthunters Guide to England by Rupert Matthews. 

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