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Ghosts at the Former George Inn

The former George Inn in Burford was once a favourite drinking den of notorious 18th-century criminals Tom, Dick and Harry Dunsdon.

The building dates back to the 15th century and was a coaching inn until 1837. It was here that the Dunsdon brothers would often meet to plan their crimes of burglary and highway robbery.

According to the legend, Tom and Harry also paid a visit to the George Inn after their deaths!

A post-death pub crawl

After the famous incident in which Tom and Harry were forced to sever Dick's arm during a bungled burglary attempt at Tangley Wood, Dick was never seen again. It is assumed he died from his injuries, but his brothers continued their criminal careers without him.

Tom and Harry were eventually captured and brought to trial at Gloucester, where they were found guilty and executed. They were then transported back to Oxfordshire where their bodies were displayed in gibbets and no doubt proved an effective deterrent for any passers-by who might have been considering a similar criminal career!

According to the legend, the man who was tasked with transporting the bodies to the gibbets became thirsty during his long journey. He decided to stop his cart, complete with its gruesome cargo, at the George Inn in Burford to have a drink.

Map of Burford showing the 'Old George Yard'

A map of Burford circa 1919, showing the Old George Yard.

Tom and Harry stop for a final drink

Did he knowingly return the bodies of Tom and Harry to their favourite carousing spot as some kind of dark joke? We will likely never know, but some believe that Tom and Harry's final visit to the George Inn is the reason that their ghosts still linger there.

The building, which now houses an antiques centre, is said to be plagued by eerie unexplained noises. Scrapes and banging sounds are heard when the building should be empty, and dogs are said to growl and stare as if watching some invisible person pass by.

Find out more

  1. Bill Spectre's Ghost Trail website
  2. 'Folklore of the Cotswolds' by June Lewis-Jones (Tempus Publishing, 2006, ISBN: 9780752429304)

Antiques @ the George, High Street, Burford

Region: West Oxfordshire

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