|The bread-baking oven at Ye Olde Bakery, Copyright Janet Cameron|
The owners of Ye Olde Bakery in Eastbourne are accustomed to their female witch-ghost and carry on as usual, running their business serving tasty dishes for locals and tourists. This old bakery building dates back to 1790, and its resident ghost has some very distinctive qualities.
The building, at 25 Seaside Road, Eastbourne, operated from the late 18th century to the 1920s as a bakery. Now it's a restaurant. Owner Margaret says that in its early life, the sea-facing rear of the building was used to hang out fishermen's nets to dry from its mezzanine ceiling. People also sold fish from this seafront position. The original baking oven was installed in 1850.
The Witch Terrifies the Local Children
The Bakery's ghost was, in life, a weird old witch lady who always wore black and terrified the local children. Margaret was unable to date the old lady's time at the Bakery but said she sold lobsters outside the front door. Whether or not she actually was a witch, or whether this was the children's imagination working overtime, isn't clear. What is apparent is that her ghostly presence is still much felt in the building, and no one will willingly stay there overnight.
Staff have described their unease at the spooky atmosphere. Psychics have visited and all have sensed the presence of this same witch phantom lady in black.
Ghosts Object to Changes
Fortunately, there is no negativity to be detected in the building from the phantom presence. "We know she is completely harmless," says Margaret. "We have been here for six years and we have never had any problems with her. We've never made big changes apart from some light decorating so we haven't disturbed her at all." Departed spirits become very agitated if the home they occupied during their lifetime is changed. They may become disruptive and start moving things around.
Ye Olde Bakery's witch-ghost is never aggressive, although she does try to give Margaret a small reminder of her presence.
"Every now and again a door bangs for no apparent reason," says Margaret. "But we know exactly who it is!" Generally, Margaret and her husband go home to sleep, but, on occasion, they've had to remain in the Bakery overnight. When they go downstairs the next morning, they find equipment has been switched on, like the dishwasher or the till light, although they are absolutely certain everything was turned off and closed down the night before.
Important Work for Witches
An interesting fact about witches is that they used to hold special rituals to scare off fierce French invaders from landing on our coast. It could be that Ye Olde Bakery's witch-ghost was involved in that useful work during her life. It seems that what we hear about witches through the ages being considered evil or sinister isn't always accurate, especially when they used their witchy powers to repel the French enemy from our Sussex shores.
Mrs. M. Manders.
Partly adapted from Paranormal Eastbourne, Janet Cameron, Amberley Publishing, 2009.