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13 November 2014

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You are in: Berkshire > History > Local History > Colnbrook's gruesome contraption

The bed Jarman used to murder his victims

The bed Jarman used to murder his victim

Colnbrook's gruesome contraption

The Ostrich Inn is not only the third oldest pub in the UK, it also has a gruesome history. Pub owner Jane Eyles told BBC Berkshire's Henry Kelly how a 17th century landlord murdered his rich victims.

The Ostrich Inn dates back to 1106, although the current building was constructed in the 1500's.

The hostelry is said to have hosted King John, who is rumoured to have stopped at the pub on the way to Runnymede to sign the Magna Carta.

The Ostrich Inn

The Ostrich Inn

According to local folklore, highwayman robber Dick Turpin used the inn as a hideout, escaping the Bow Street Runners by jumping out of a window.

But it was a series of murders in the 17th century which really put the pub on the map.

Rich guests at the inn started disappearing in mysterious circumstances under the reign  infamous pub landlord Mr Jarman.

Pub owner Jane Eyles said: "His wife used to ply some of the rich customers with food and wine.

"The guests would go to sleep upstairs in one of the rooms that had a magic four-poster bed in it.

"It would tip backwards when they were fast asleep and tip them into a pot of boiling liquid, killing them instantly.

"Then they would throw the bodies into the brook behind the hotel."

Click here to read a contemporary account by Thomas Deloney describing the murder.

A working model of the 'magic bed' is on display at the pub to this day.

The murderous pair stayed undetected until they plotted to kill a well-known clothier called Thomas Cole. After persuading him to make his last will before he retired, he was killed by Jarman.

Jane said: "Cole's horse was found wandering the streets the day afterwards and somebody recognised the horse. Then they found the body and that was how they got caught."

Before he was hanged, Mr Jarman boasted of having murdered up to 60 people in this way.

The town is said to have been named Colebrook following the Cole murder, which is why it is called Colnbrook today.

last updated: 06/05/2009 at 12:31
created: 05/05/2009

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