The Highwayman Inn was the brainchild of Buster Jones, an entrepreneur and athlete, together with his beautiful and vivacious wife Rita. They bought the inn in 1958 with a view to create a very different drinking experience. It was going to be a 2 year project for them but ended up being considerably longer and now, over 60 years later, it is still run by the same family: their daughter, Sally and her husband Bruce work at the inn together with friends.
The inn itself is 13th century and was once a coaching house, farm and hub of the local community. These days it is a unique landmark and tourist attraction, not just in itself, but also because Sourton, situated on the edge of the North Moor, is steeped in history and legend with great walking, riding and cycling opportunities. Sourton Church opposite is well worth a visit with its unusual angel carvings, labyrinth and black-cloaked ghost in the tower. The Highwayman has its share of paranormal sightings too, a burly sea captain, the flamboyant cavalier Samuel, and a provocative serving wench in a mop cap are all allegedly part of the furniture.
The building was originally built as an inn in 1282 and later became dual purpose as an inn and a farm making use of the 20 acres at the rear. In the 17th century it was called the Golden Fleece. Plymouth Breweries later renamed it the New Inn to give it a more contemporary image.
Rita and Buster Jones moved to Sourton on Michaelmas Day 1959 from South Wales. It was Rita who christened the inn ‘The Highwayman’ because she had romantic notions of highwaymen dashing about in the mist on the moor. (In fact there were three highwaymen who worked the area at various times, Fowley, Huggins and Creber.)
The name ‘New Inn’ can just about be seen above the entrance
Buster setwork immediately on the inn; with only £1,000 net turnover a year and a bararea of only 9ft by 13ft there was plenty of room for improvement. Locals thought he was completely mad in those days, now they bring their friends from further afield to see the inn which has become one of the areas most popular attractions.
Such alterations included the setting of the old Launceston to Tavistock coach as the entrance porch. The coach is in it’s original colour of maroon/purple.
Not how the original apex roof became a dome above the coach, later to be replaced, once again, with an apex roof and the addition of two small seating areas either side of the coach.
Note, for example, how the original apex roof became a dome above the coach, later to be replaced, once again, with an apex roof and the addition of two small seating areas either side of the coach.
The development of The Highwayman Inn was an organic process that continued throughout the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.
Using natural wood and stone from the area and a great deal of imagination and hard work the building soon took on a unique character of its own. Sally has worked in the inn since a child and, at one time she, her mother and grandmother worked behind the bar together; her grandfather was responsible for the upholstery work in The Locker bar.
In 1998 Sally and her husband Bruce took over running the inn so that Sally’s Father and Mother could enjoy a long, well-earned retirement. They continue running the Highwayman in the same family tradition, with the commitment set by Buster and Rita.
Many people have claimed to feel a presence at The Highwayman Inn.
One common sighting is of a man dressed in green with a feather in his hat. He has been seen walking through a wall which used to be a route to an adjoining stable block.
At an impromptu seance one foggy November night a medium claimed to be in contact with a man named Samuel.
Very strange, that several months earlier, an eight year old girl said she had been having long conversations with an oddly dressed man called Sam and that he had a feather in his hat!
The Clairvoyant also said that Sam died at 36, that he couldn’t leave the inn and that he had been in a battle.There was an historic battle between The Roundheads (Sourton) and Cavaliers (Bridestowe).
Samuel may well have fled the scene to the inn in order to retrieve his mount and make his escape.
Taken from Jason Karl’s book “Great Ghost Hunt”
Here in the magical interiors of The Highwayman, nothing else seems to exist. It’s as if there’s no world outside, as if all that matters is in there with you, from times past to times present. The Highwayman Inn is undoubtedly the most haunted inn in Britain.