By WENDY HUGHES

 

Looking through some old newspapers for ideas for a new book I came across an interesting story printed in The Evening Argus 9 July 1976.  It concerned a macabre painting that had mysteriously vanished from a village pub in East Preston.

 

Two legends are associated with Roundstone.  The first concerns the villagers who feared the soul of a dead criminal or suicide, so they pinned his body to the ground with a heavy millstone and thrust a wooden stake through his heart, in the belief that  the ghost would not be able to get up and haunt anyone. They then buried him at the then lonely crossroads.

 

The second legend states that a millstone broke loose and rolled down from Highdown Hill and killed a man who was walking on the Worthing road and, as no one could lift it, they piled earth on top of the man and the millstone.  Others claim the millstone lay on the grass by the crossroad at the southern end of the lane, roughly where the level crossing is today, but this crossroad had disappeared by the 20th century.  We are not told if these drastic measures proved effective in laying the ghost to rest, but the Roundstone public house was opened in 1939 and obviously got its name from these tales.  During the 1960’s the sign outside the pub showed a skeleton struggling to lift a millstone.

The then licensee and his wife, Mr and Mrs Fry claimed that they had seen the ghostly figure of a man in the pub in 1973 just prior to them taking over the pub.  They had been out walking and had called in for a drink and told the legend.  An unknown  artist who was inspired enough to produce a painting showing a tortured skeleton pinned down by a grey millstone and fixed by a brown wooden stake against a black background.  The painting was screwed to the wall above the glass doors of the Millstone Bar where it remained until it was stolen even though it was in clear view of everyone.  Was it spirited away I wonder?

 

However Mrs Fry did see the apparition of man in her bedroom when she was suddenly awoken by the mournful howl of her Old English sheepdog called Professor Higgins at 3 am one morning.  At the time Mrs Fry explained that she did not believe in ghosts, nor had she drank or had a vivid imagination, yet in her mind she could clearly see the man.  She screamed and the man disappeared.  Her husband believed she must have been hallucinating and dismissed her claims. But at 6am one morning he was sitting quietly having a cup of tea by the fireplace in the Millstone Bar when something made him glance up and he saw a man standing behind the bar.  Her got up to ask the man who he was, but he disappeared before his eyes. We can only guess that for some reason the painting spirited away, or had someone slipped in and stolen it?  No one knows.  We can only guess.

 

Today the pub is now a Premier Inn and still called the Rondstone.

 

 

About Wendy Hughes

Wendy turned to writing, in 1989, when ill-health and poor vision forced her into early medical retirement. Since then she has published 26 nonfiction books, and over 2000 articles. Her work has appeared in magazines as diverse as The Lady, Funeral Service Journal, On the Road, 3rd Stone, Celtic Connections, Best of British, and Guiding magazine. She has a column in an America/Welsh newspaper for ex-pats on old traditions and customs in Wales. Her books include many on her native Wales, Anglesey Past and Present, The Story of Brecknock, Brecon, a pictorial History of the Town, Carmarthen, a History and Celebration and Tales of Old Glamorgan, and a book on Walton on Thames in the Images of England series, a company history and two books on the charity Hope Romania. She has also co-authored two story/activity books for children. Her latest books are: Haunted Worthing published in October 2010, a new colour edition of The Story of Pembrokeshire published in March 2011, and Shipwrecks of Sussex in June 2011 and Not a Guide to Worthing in 2014. She is working on a book entitled A-Z of Curious Sussex which will be published in 2016 Wendy also works with clients to bring their work up to publishable standard and is currently working on an autobiography with a lady that was married to a very famous 1940’s travel writer. Wendy has spent many years campaigning and writing on behalf of people affected by Stickler Syndrome, a progressive genetic connective tissue disorder from which she herself suffers. She founded the Stickler Syndrome Support Group and raises awareness of the condition amongst the medical profession, and produces the group’s literature, and has written the only book on the condition, Stickler The Elusive Syndrome, and has also contributed to a DVD on the condition, Stickler syndrome: Learning the Facts. She has also writing three novels, Sanctimonious Sin, a three generation saga set in Wales at the turn of the century, Power That Heal set in the Neolithic period entitled Powers that Heal, and a semi biographical book entitled New Beginnings which deals with two generations coping with blindness and a genetic condition. She has also had a handful of short stories published, and in her spare time is working on several at the moment. She also gives talks on a variety of subjects including Writing and Placing Articles, Writing Local History, Writing as Therapy, Writing your first novel, etc, and runs workshops on the craft of writing – both fiction and non-fiction. She is a member of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists, and a member of the Society of Authors.