Worstead’s pub renamed after local ghost

A struggling pub in a picturesque north Norfolk village has been bought by a resident and renamed after a local ghost.

Worstead's New Inn will now be known as The White Lady, celebrating a chilling legend about a ghost said to haunt the neighbouring church on Christmas Eve.

The name change is part of a major refurbishment of the 19th-century Grade II-listed building, Worstead's only pub, by its new owner, Dennis Gilligan, who has bought it from Punch Taverns.

He has employed village craftsmen to revamp the kitchen and carry out other work, and has taken on five full-time staff from the village, including chef Mark Thompson who is cooking dishes using local suppliers. The pub will also sell Norfolk beer such as Woodforde's.

Mr Gilligan, who had never pulled a pint before his latest purchase, said he had been sad to see the pub's decline and eventual closure several months ago and wanted to see it become a community hub once again.

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He decided on the name change because he felt New Inn sounded 'very 1960s' and found inspiration in his own home, which had once been another Worstead pub, the King's Head.

An old newspaper cutting left there told of the White Lady legend and said that a man staying in the King's Head with friends one Christmas Eve had decided to test the legend of the ghost's appearance and went to the church. His friends later found him 'gibbering with fright,' repeatedly saying: 'I have seen her,' before dropping dead.

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The pub has been open throughout the refurbishment but Mr Gilligan, 59, a trainer and assessor for the National Grid, plans an official re-launch on Friday, July 22, with live music from village band The Usual Suspects when it is hoped that a new pub sign, designed by Worstead artist Laura Rose, will have been installed.

Extra supplies have also been ordered for the Worstead Festival at the end of July, and a pub beer and music festival is planned over the August bank holiday.

Longer-term plans include creating a conservatory restaurant and a micro-brewery in an outbuilding.

Simon Cole, chairman of Worstead Parish Council, said: 'The pub's an important part of the village and I think everyone is upbeat about what's happening there. We're looking forward to a rosy future.'

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