The George And Dragon
High Street, West Wycombe, H14 3AB
The George & Dragon stands on the main street of West Wycombe and was built in 1720 on the site of an older inn. A large door gives way from the high street into a wide courtyard. The Inn is made of the lovely orange brick of this part of the Chilterns and has large windows that were probably mullioned when they were first put in. The sign outside shows St George fighting the Dragon and is made of lead and thus a great weight. Parts of the George & Dragon are much older than 1720 and are said to date from the early 1400s. One corridor definitely gives away its age with a sloping floor and uneven walls.
Once it had been rebuilt, the George served as a coaching inn for mail and passengers on the route between London and Oxford. Watching coaches was a popular pastime and the George at one time had a spectators’ gallery. All that remains of that now is the set of steps that led up to it from the courtyard. There are one or two ghost stories associated with the George & Dragon: a white lady is supposed to haunt the garden (though she hasn’t been seen lately) There is also a mischievous spirit that hides things, and an unseen man whose footsteps are heard at dead of night going up and down the wide central staircase.
The Inn’s most famous ghost however is Susan or ‘Sukie’ to give her pet name. Susan worked at the inn at some unspecified point in the past. She was pretty and the village boys courted her, but she thought herself destined for better things and spurned their advances. One day a wealthy young man came to the inn. Sukie thought that he was much more suitable so she became very attentive and friendly with him. Sukie’s charms were obviously working because the young man started to come regularly to the George & Dragon.
Rumours circulated that he was secretly a highwayman operating on the country roads in the district, but the romance of this only served to make him more attractive. The local boys decided to teach the haughty maidservant a lesson so they sent a bogus message to her, purportedly from her young admirer, to meet him at West Wycombe caves in the middle of the night, dressed in her wedding dress. Thinking that she was about to be swept away by the romantic and mysterious highwayman, she somehow got a wedding dress and secretly made her way to the cave mouth.
When she got there she was at mortified to find the village boys standing there doubled up in laughter. Then her embarrassment turned to anger and she began to hurl chunks of rock at them. They didn’t take kindly to this, and threw the rocks back. Sukie was struck on the head and fell dead to the ground.
It’s not told what happened to the lads who’d done the deed, but before too long Sukie’s ghost was seen around the George & Dragon.
Some visitors (probably wealthy, handsome young men) reported being stroked by cold fingers as they lie sleeping. This is a particularly persistent story, because when I spoke to the current staff there, they told me of their experiences. They didn’t report any cold patches – a feature noted in previous reports, but they said that guests often report feeling a presence. This isn’t from any particular room, but all around the inn. The current proprietor, Caz, told me that her husband had seen a female figure coming down the stairs.
He thought that it was Caz herself, but realised he was wrong when she disappeared in front of his eyes. The children of the previous proprietor used to talk often of the nice white lady who came out of the cupboard. Caz’s own son, James, is now twelve and no longer sees anything, but when he was younger used to tell her about the ‘lady’. An interesting feature about this – because the boy had no knowledge of the story of Sukie – described the lady he’d seen as having a pink headband across her head; a bloody bandage perhaps?
At the top of the inn are the private rooms of the inn staff. In previous years these would have been the quarters of servants such as Sukie. It’s in these rooms that the children report their ghostly sightings, but also it’s also in these rooms that lights go off and on of their own accord, and, most bizarrely, vacuum cleaners die in large numbers.