'Haunted' pub illegally demolished ordered rebuilt stone by stone

Risen from the grave: Council bosses order ‘haunted’ 18th Century pub that was demolished without consent be rebuilt stone by stone based on its original plan

  • The Punch Bowl Inn, in Hurst Green, Lancashire, was demolished in June 2021
  • It was done ‘without consent’ before the latest planning application was rejected
  • The pub was reportedly haunted by the ghost of infamous highwayman Ned King
  • Ribble Valley Council has now ordered the owners to rebuild it stone by stone 

A historic pub said to be haunted by the ghost of a highwayman has been ordered to be rebuilt stone by stone after it was demolished without permission. 

The former Punch Bowl Inn, in Hurst Green, Lancashire, is currently a pile of rubble after it was illegally bulldozed by the owners in June, last year.

It was done nine months before an application by the developer to house caravan pitches on the site was rejected by the local council.

Now Ribble Valley Council has ordered the 18th Century pub be rebuilt according to its original plans which will have to be done based on architecture records.  

The Punch Bowl Inn, pictured here before its demolition, is thought to have dated back to the 18th Century

The original building is thought to have dated back to the 18th century, with a plaque above the door saying it dated back to 1793.

But locals say it dates back to before then to the 1730s when it gained a reputation for being haunted, with folklore claiming highwaymen Dick Turpin and Ned King stayed there.

Local legend says the pair of criminals visited the pub as they journeyed from Essex in 1739.

It was demolished ‘without consent’ by the owner in June last year, nine months before a planning application to turn it into a caravan site was rejected

It is claimed that Turpin travelled onwards to York, while King stayed and targeted travellers in the Ribble Valley with the help of the pub’s landlord Jonathan Brisco. 

King’s reign of terror was ended though when he was caught by the army in 1741, and he was hanged from a tree outside the pub, with local legends saying his ghost haunted the pub while it was still standing, the Lancashire Telegraph reports.

The Grade II-listed pub had been empty for years before the demolition, with the site being put up for sale in 2013.  

The local council then refused several planning applications from Blackburn-based developer Donelan Trading Ltd. 

These included conversion, part-demolition and extension works to provide holiday lets and a cafe, while the most recent application, in March 2021, sought permission to put 15 static caravan pitches on the site. 

This  did not appear before the planning committee until March this year, where it was subsequently refused.

By that point the pub, which had been given listed status in 1983, had already been demolished for nine months. 

Historic England said it was ‘saddened’ the late pub was demolished ‘without consent’.

In reports by planning officers written before the pub’s demolition, they said the proposed caravan development would be harmful to the setting of the listed inn building, the open countryside and the Forest of Bowland area.

The owner has now been ordered to rebuild the pub stone by stone based on the original plans for the site

Numerous letters of objection were received by the planning department, one of which stated that the owner should not be given ‘a right to do anything with this land until a full investigation into the illegal destruction of the Punch Bowl Inn is complete’.

The local parish council also objected, citing factors including overdevelopment, road safety and the demolition of the inn.

A Historic England spokeswoman said the organisation was ‘saddened to hear the Grade II listed Punch Bowl Inn was demolished without consent’.

‘The building dated back to the late 1700s and was a local landmark along Longridge Road,’ she added.

A spokeswoman for Ribble Valley Council confirmed an enforcement notice demanding the pub be rebuilt had been sent out. 

She added she understood an appeal had been launched by the owner against the order to rebuild the pub or other planning matters associated with the site. 

How a Lancashire pub became ‘haunted by an infamous highwayman’ 

Local legend says infamous highwayman Dick Turpin stayed at the inn with accomplace Ned King

The Punch Bowl Inn is known to have stood on the slopes of the Ribble Valley since the 18th century.

While a stone above the door dates the building back to 1793, locals say the building actually dates back to earlier in the century.

One local legend suggests it was used as a resting spot by two notorious highwaymen – Dick Turpin and Ned King.

Folklore states the pair arrived in 1739 after riding from Essex, with Turpin deciding to move onto York while King stayed behind.

It is claimed the landlord of the pub, Jonathan Brisco, helped King as he robbed travelers on nearby roads. 

The legend goes he was finally caught by a group of red coats, who surrounded the pub, killing Briscow and capturing King.

There would be no reprieve for the highwayman though, with the ghost hunters claiming he was hanged from a tree outside the pub, leading to the pub becoming haunted. 

Life at the pub went on, with an extension added in the mid 19th Century, and it received listed status in 1983.

However, its fortunes took a turn for the worse and it was put up for sale in 2013.

Since then it has laid empty, with successive planning applications to bring it back into use being rejected before its seemingly premature demolition in June last year.

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