The Bailey Round
When I was just a young lad I worked as a newspaper delivery boy. Although I was a Londoner by birth, fortune had taken my family to the City of Durham in the northeast of England. I must have impressed my employer for I was given the prestigious "Bailey Round". My route took me to the doors of all the high church officials associated with Durham Cathedral.
Posh Folk Don't Tip
As I later discovered, none of the other boys wanted anything to do with the Bailey Round because the high-ranking, wealthy people living in the posh homes surrounding the cathedral were very poor tippers at Christmas.
In the Dim Light of Early Morning
So, at six-thirty every morning, I loaded up my canvas sack with plentiful copies of the Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Church Times and the pink broadsheet Financial Times and set off for the finest neighborhood in the whole of the northeast of England.
The homes along "The Bailey" are ancient stone structures. The grotesque gargoyles atop the cathedral buttresses leer down at passers-by. The street is narrow, deserted and spooky in the dim light of early morning. I was often startled by the creak of an ancient door opening and sundry other noises that broke the eerie silence in this most ancient quarter of the city.
A Towering Cathedral and Ancient Castle
The Bailey runs along one side of a spectacular peninsula created by a horseshoe bend in the River Wear. The ground enclosed by the bend rises high above the river. On top of the high ground sits Durham Cathedral and Durham Castle - two mighty buildings that dominate the city and can be seen for miles. This is the district in which distinguished theologians ply their trade and students with sights set on entry into the church learn their profession at the ancient collegiate university.
Something Very Strange
I must have performed my duties with distinction because, after a couple of years, I was promoted to the role of supervisor of newspaper delivery boys and no longer had to carry that heavy canvas bag through those dark, sinister streets. But I had no way of knowing that something from those streets stayed with me. Something that would lie dormant and come back to haunt me many years later.
The Recurring Dream
I left Durham City a few years later and did not return until the summer of 2009 - nearly 40 years later. I had to go back. I was curious. For several years I have been having a strange recurring dream. In my dream I visit a public house on Saddler Street which leads directly into the Bailey. I walked that street every morning on my route.
It is a very vivid, yet brief dream and it is always the same. I could not even remember whether there was a public house on that street and I never paid much attention to the dream.
But, in August 2009, I returned to Durham City, determined to find out whether that pub existed. It does, and what I discovered when I found it was profoundly disturbing. A sign on the outside of the pub reads:
This building dates back to 1109AD. It was an inn called The Ostler & Groom in 1468AD. It remains one of the most haunted pubs in England.
A strange tale, but completely true.