A notice on the inglenook fireplace at The Castle in Great Leighs suggests that the pub is the oldest recorded inn in England, dating to about 1171. The building has certainly seen some changes in its time. It was used as a hermitage by pilgrims on their way to the shrines of St Thomas a Becket in Canterbury and Walsingham in Norfolk. In the eighteenth century The Castle was a coaching inn and stop-off for the London to Norwich stagecoach.
More recently, about a year ago, The Castle underwent a full refurbishment under the ownership of Pie and Pint Inns, which also runs The Hare at Roxwell.
General Manager William Crighton admits The Castle has a past reputation for ghostly goings on, particularly spooky sightings of a black cat that can walk through walls and a gentlemanly figure sitting at the bar, smoking a pipe. Whilst the pub grounds contain The Witch's Stone, linked to the legend of a local witch buried at Scrap Faggot's Green, since the refurbishment, William is certain the pub is not haunted. That said, he does tend to keep an open mind, especially as Hallowe'en approaches.
Golden Crust Beer & Food Match Suggestion:
A refreshing pint of Golden Crust cask ale 3.7% ABV or a pint of Royal Bulldog premium ale 3.9% ABV with The Castle's Golden Crust Rarebit, a toasted slice of bloomer loaf with creamy cheese sauce made with Golden Crust ale and a dash of Worcestershire sauce and royally crowned with a fried egg on top £7.50.
The Castle, Main Road, Great Leighs, Chelmsford, CM3 1NE