Thursday, 21 April 2011

The haunted Bell Inn of Toddington

The Bell Inn at Toddington stands facing across the village green to the busy A5120. During rush hours, the main road almost segregates the village into two it is so tricky to cross on foot.

Back in the days when the ghost of the Bell was a real living human, there was no such problem. In the 1850s, the A5120 was the rather more mundane Dunstable Road. It was busy enough for its time with farm carts, passing country folk and the occasional gentry in a carriage, but getting from one side to the other rarely presented a problem.

There were, however, problems a plenty at the Bell. The landlord of the time had a daughter of more than usual prettiness. This was no bad thing, for travelling gentlemen and local farmboys were more inclined to drink their ale and purchase their snacks at a pub with a pretty serving girl than at a pub without one. Unfortunately the girl had the most appalling temper. She was liable to fly into tantrums on the slightest provocation, and at such times customers fled rather than have a tankard of ale upended over them or food thrown in their faces.

The girl’s father, of course, knew his daughter and gradually got to recognise the signs that spelled an imminent outbreak of violent temper. Wasting no time, he would bundle the girl into a back room and lock the door. There she would remain until she had vented her anger on pots, pans and other unbreakable objects. An hour or two of mayhem later, and the girl would calm down enough to be released.

But one day the sounds of crashing pans and stamping feet lasted barely ten minutes before an unnatural silence spread through the pub. After a few minutes, the landlord warily opened the door to find his poor daughter dead of a seizure. Perhaps the tantrum had been too much for her.

Ever since then, the Bell has been subjected to occasional outbreaks of ghostly temper tantrums. Pans will be thrown across the kitchen, pictures jump off the walls and glasses slither along the bars. Strangely, nothing is ever broken nor does any customer find himself drenched with the good, honest ale that the pub still serves. The sudden outbreaks of flying utensils and moving furniture are more a nuisance than a problem.

Perhaps the girl’s rage has calmed down with the passing years of being a ghost.


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