41 Iron Gate, Derby, Derbyshire


Previously called The George and built around 1693 there are many strange tales surrounding this pub. Now called D.Lafferty & Son (although it is believed the pub may soon revert to its original name) this was once the most famous coaching inn in Derby. The 'George Skull' on display in the pub is a female human skull that has a damaged cranium. It was discovered by workmen in a pit below the cellar floor together with animal bones and skulls, plus old shoes and pieces of leather. Forensic tests at Nottingham indicated a great age and the mystery is how, or why, the skull and not the rest of the skeleton came to be in the pit. As the pub stands near the corner of Iron Gate (where blacksmiths traded) and Sadler Gate (where leather workers traded) which is the heart of Viking Derby, it can perhaps explain how the pieces of leather were discovered as it was usual for the leather makers to throw any off cuts into a pit after the hides had been stripped and tanned. An explanation for the animal bones and skulls may be that they were from animals killed for the leather makers. The enigma of the human skull and the damage to the side of it remains unsolved.

The pub is undoubtably haunted as on a few occasions a long haired man in a blue coat has been seen walking along the landing in the middle of the night. When followed down to the bar he has simply disappeared, although there was nowhere for him to go. Staff have reported many odd experiences since the building work and extension of the cellar has been completed including buckets being thrown, crockery moving by itself, pint pots smashed, and ghastly groans emanating from the cellar. There is also said to be a ghost named Martha who frequently insists that her head (the 'George Skull') be taken from the bar and reburied. As the mysteries surrounding the skull continues to baffle all who seek the answers we can only wonder - was she murdered and if so why? Where is the rest of her skeleton? Is she the ghostly presence behind all the strange happenings at the pub? What is known is that 2 murders have actually taken place in the adjoining alley!