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24 September 2014

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The inn among the stones
The Red Lion at Avebury
The only watering-hole for Avebury tourists.

No day is the same for Richard Bounds, Bar Manager at the Red Lion in Avebury.

We find out what it's like to run the only pub in Avebury - one of Wiltshire's top tourist attractions.

Avebury Stones images

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The Avebury site covers an area of 28 acres.

fact bullet Unlike nearby Stonehenge, there is free access to the Avebury stones at all hours.

fact bullet In the 14th century a man was killed by one of the stones falling on top of him.

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The Red Lion at Avebury is unique in that it is the only public house in the world that actually resides inside a stone circle.

Richard Bounds
Richard Bounds

Not only that but it is the only watering hole in a two mile radius. As a result, the tourists that descend on the small village from all over the world are only too happy to savour its hospitality after a long day sight-seeing.

Bar Manager Richard Bounds has been running the Red Lion for three years and in that time has had to deal with all manner of situations.

"This job is unpredictable to say the least!", he says. "Some days there are only a few visitors to the area and on others we might get three coach-loads of American tourists arrive from London."

As well as tackling the many international tourists there is also the small matter of the inn's very own ghost to contend with!

The story goes that during the Civil War of the 17th century, a woman called Florrie and her soldier husband lived at the inn. He was called away to the war and Florrie, left behind, subsequently took a lover.

One night her husband returned unexpectedly from the battle and discovered his wife's infidelity.

In a fit of rage he shot dead his rival and slit his wife's throat. He then threw her body down the Inn's well and sealed it with a huge boulder.

The stones at Avebury
The stones at Avebury

According to Richard, it is said that since then her ghost has haunted the 400-year-old building.

"I’ve seen shadows and things have gone missing", he said. "Some guests at the Inn have refused to stay a night longer."

A team of ghost busters also visit the inn on a regular basis to conducts tests.

It's not all spooky stories though, the tourists provide a constant source of amusement.

Richard said; "We used to sell dowsing rods for water divining and the American tourists were always asking what they were.

One couple bought a pair and were seen out in the fields holding their rods with the long end!"

There is also a fair bit of drama among the stones from time to time too, as Richard recounts:

"On Millennium Eve, one local guy brought along his own home-made fireworks to set off as the clock hit midnight. He went to ignite one and blew his fingers off."

It is a very calming areaquote
Richard Bounds

There was also dismay when villagers awoke one morning to find two of the stones covered in red and green paint. A group had vandalised them in protest at genetically modified crops.

"It apparently cost the National Trust £25,000 to restore them." Richard said.

It certainly seems that since taking over the Red Lion, Richard has never had a dull moment. He does, however, find living in the village strangely serene.

He explained; "Before I moved here I thought what is all the fuss about? However I've found that it is a very calming area. Outside the stone circle I can’t sleep at night but in here I sleep like a log."

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