The many ghosts of Drayton’s Royal Bull’s Head Inn

The former Royal Bull’s Head Inn when it operated as a post office in 1930. Picture: Queensland State Library. Inset: Frances Lynch, who is said to haunt the old pub. Picture: Supplied.

The Royal Bull’s Head Inn is reputably haunted by more than half a dozen ghosts!

Frances Lynch, who was the postmistress at the former pub for over half a century, is said to be one of eight ghosts haunting the Royal Bull’s Head Inn.

There’s also the lady in the night dress, first recorded in 1908, and who is believed to be Sarah Horton, the wife of the first proprietor, William Horton.

Bill and Sarah Horton established the inn as the ‘Bull’s Head’ in 1848, hosting the pub for over 15 years. The Bull’s Inn gained its ‘Royal’ title in September 1858 after William Horton returned after a short break as licensee. The publican “died suddenly” in 1864 at the age of 47, with his wife “departing this life” the following year, at the young age of 35.

The Toowoomba Chronicle reported on March 9 1865 that “Mrs Horton, widow of the late Mr. William Horton, the well-known proprietor of the Royal Bull’s Head Hotel” had “been in a precarious state of health ever since the death of her husband.”

Also said to be haunting the old pub is a young drover, who died after chewing tobacco contaminated with arsenic in 1870. John Hannay, 19, recently married, had been drinking in the pub the night before his body was found at his step-father’s property.

A “Chinaman”, who died after swallowing throat lozenges soaked in strychnine, is said to be another of the inn’s restless spirits. He was found dead in his humpy, and an inquest, held at the Bull’s Inn, found he committed suicide.

Another ghost who haunts the former pub is said to be a young man, who cut his own throat after the publican, Daniel Neile gave the drifter a free bed for the night in 1870. The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Thursday May 19, 1870:

The Toowoomba Chronicle says – “One of those fearful cases of self-destruction, the result, no doubt, of excessive drinking took place at the Royal Bull’s Head, Drayton, either late on Friday night last, or early on Saturday morning, the unfortunate man being a stranger who came into Drayton from Toowoomba on Friday, and took up his quarters at the old look-up. About dusk the police officer in charge, on his way to the police paddock, noticed smoke issuing out of the chimney, he went over to see who was there, when he saw this man, and told him he could not stop there. The man told him that he had been drinking rather heavily, and intended camping there for the night. He had been at the creek washing some of his things, and, to all appearance quite sensible; however, the constable told him to go over to the Bull’s Head, and if he had not the means of paying for his night’s lodging, he would pay for it for him. Mr Neale told him that, as he had blankets of his own, he could lie on the sofa and no charge would be made. He only drank, while there, three glasses of grog. In the morning Mr Daniel Neale went into his room and found him lying on the floor with his throat cut, and dead, the jugular vein being severed in two. He was a young man, middle height, dark complexion, and dark curly hair. There was a magisterial inquiry held on the body. The name of the unfortunate man did not transpire.”

The most chilling ghost story though is undoubtedly the baby in the well. People have reported hearing the cries of a baby near a disused well at the back of the inn.

The Royal Bull’s Head Inn traded until 1872 when Henry Neale closed the premises as a licensed pub. The Darling Downs Gazette reported on July 13 1872:

The Royal Bull’s Head Hotel, that for so many years held the highest place as a house of entertainment, has at length succumbed to the general stagnation of trade, its late proprietor, Mr Neale, though a very obliging and painstaking landlord, and though combining other industries with that of nobbier dispensing, finding it would not pay. The loss of this long-established house has, however, been compensated for by Hanrahan’s Hotel and that of Mr Allen, where the hungry and thirsty are sure to find all their longings satisfied and meet with every civility and kindness.

After the building closed as a pub, it traded as a post office for over 60 years with Frances Lynch at the helm. Miss Lynch died in 1958, and she is said to be one of the ghosts haunting the historic building.

The Royal Bull’s Head Inn today operates as a museum. Picture: Royal Bull’s Head Inn Toowoomba Facebook Page.

THE Royal Bull’s Head Inn is a heritage listed historical hotel located in Drayton, Queensland. It is currently managed as a trust property by the National Trust of Queensland.

The slab–built inn with shingled roof, served as an important meeting place for local squatters. The inn was large and well equipped with a parlour and all the requirements for a constant stream of visitors, including travellers, clergymen, settlers and anyone travelling to the area from the coast. On August 20 1848 the Rev. Benjamin Glennie conducted his first Church of England service on the Darling Downs, at the Royal Bull’s Head Inn.

In 1859 William Horton the proprietor of the inn and the surrounding land, and added a large extension made out of brick, cedar and timber. The entire inn was beautifully furnished and was regarded as the best on the Darling Downs, and better than some in Brisbane and Ipswich.

William Horton died in 1864 and the inn’s furnishings were sold at auction in 1865. The hotel was then managed by a succession of businessmen, including Timothy Larkin, Samuel Mann and Henry Neale. In 1875 most of the original building and the stables were sold for removal leaving only the 1859 extension and the original kitchen remaining. These are the buildings which are standing today.

In 1879 just over 30 years after the inn was established Thomas Price Horton, William Horton’s son sold the inn to Richard Stephen Lynch a saddler, and his wife Sarah Neale, daughter of Henry Neale. The Lynch family renamed the Royal Bull’s Head Inn “The Terrace” and it became their private residence for more than 90 years. The Lynch family also ran the Drayton Post Office in the building for 60 years and the office remained there until 1952 when Frances Lynch daughter of Richard and Sarah retired. In 1973 the last surviving son, Mr Alan Campbell Lynch, died and the National Trust of Queensland acquired the building.

A program of preservation and restoration began. In 1984 the inn celebrated its 125th birthday and a year later in 1985 the ground floor had been fully restored. In 1987, work began on restoring the second floor of the inn. On 2 May 1988 the governor of Queensland, Sir Walter Campbell officially opened the Royal Bull’s Head Inn. The governor unveiled a plaque to commemorate the occasion. In 1998 the 25th anniversary of the National Trust was celebrated at the inn. The renovations of the kitchen area were officially opened during the celebrations. Restoration of the grounds and outbuildings also took place starting in 1983, the fences were replaced and the dairy and stables were restored.

The inn’s gardens are a classic example of 19th-century gardens. Restoration is still continuing on the building today. The inn will be open to the public on the first weekend of every month and a coffee and bookshop currently operate within the inn.

The inn was listed on the Queensland Heritage Register on October 21 1992.

– From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

[The Land (Sydney) Friday 27 March 1953]

By A Correspondent

ON the Darling Downs of Queensland is a picturesque old wooden building, which forms an interesting link with the pioneering days of Queensland and northern New South Wales.

During its 113 years of existence it has served as a hotel, a church and a post office, and is now a private residence!

The building was erected in 1840 as the Royal Bull’s Head Hotel.

To the teamsters and drovers from northern New South Wales, and the land-seekers, who came in search of new country, the hotel was like an oasis in the wilderness, and it became a favorite meeting place.

It was also the terminus of what was then the longest pack-horse mail service in Australia. The service operated from Tenterfield to Drayton, the round trip of 400 miles taking almost three months.

A valuable and interesting relic of the mail service is preserved in St. Matthew’s Church of England at Drayton.

This is an old envelope, bearing one of the first postage stamps issued in New South Wales, addressed to Rev. Benjamin Glennie, Drayton, via Tenterfield.

It was the Rev. Glennie who conducted the first church service on the Darling Downs in the parlor of the hotel, on August 20, 1848.

A memento of the occasion now adorns the vestry door of St. Matthew’s – the brass door knocker from the old hotel.

When the hotel was closed, the building was taken over by the Lynch family, who conducted the Drayton Post Office there for nearly 70 years.

Miss Frances Lynch ,who was postmistress for 45 years, retired only last year.

Her length of service as postmistress is believed to be an Australian record.

The old building, which is in a remarkable state of preservation, is now being used as a residence by Miss Lynch and other members of the family.

With a reputation for being the “most haunted” building in Toowoomba, paranormal fanatics are invited to join the ‘South East Paranormal’ team for a Paranormal Investigation of the Royal Bull’s Head Inn. The night ghost tours in Toowoomba started in 2014 at the Royal Bull’s Head Inn and proved to be quite popular so they have kept going.  The local Toowoomba locals believe strongly in the paranormal.  The experts will guide participants through investigative procedures and are enthusiastically looking forward to sharing the evening with you. For more information: Call: 0490 363 719

[  April 12 2013 11:53 AM]

Paranormal investigators probe ‘haunted’ historic inn

Mrs Lynch, who is said to haunt the Royal Bull Inn. Picture: Supplied

PARANORMAL investigator Darren Davies hopes triggers from the past will bring some spirits into the future.

The Brisbane-based investigator will visit Drayton’s Royal Bulls Head Inn to determine, once-and-for-all, whether the historic property is haunted.

Using full-spectrum, high-quality electrical equipment and recording devices as well as historical artefacts, Mr Davies will conduct an over-night investigation.

Mr Davies has also thoroughly researched the inn’s history in preparation.

“We have uncovered a lot,” he said.

“And not all of it is nice.

“In fact, it has quite a dark history.

“There have been a number of sudden as well as natural deaths at the inn.”

Mr Davies and a crew from the not-for-profit group, Paranormal Paratek, will take over the inn from sunset to sunrise in an effort to connect with the past.

Using “triggers” such as historical music, antique items and things associated with the inn like playing cards, to evoke spirits.

“If we understand the people that were associated with the inn, what their life was like and what interested them, we can connect with the past,” he said.

“We would like to determine whether there is any spiritual energy and what level of activity there is.”

It is the stuff that would make the ordinary folk’s hair stand on end. But for Mr Davies, it just another day in the office, albeit a creepy office.

“People basically fear the unknown,” he said.

“But we know what to expect.”

Mr Davies said most paranormal activity could be explained away with scientific evidence, electrical interference or simply psychosomatic expectations.

Having said that though, Mr Davies has a “good feeling” that something unexplainable will happen at the Royal Bulls Head Inn.

“Purely because of the number of deaths, particularly suicides,” he said.

“I feel there is something there.”

Ghosts of the Inn

  •  The Lady in the Night Dress: First recorded in 1908. Believed to Sarah Horton, the wife of the first proprietor, William Horton.
  •  The Three Drovers: Died after chewing on tobacco contaminated with arsenic.
  •  The “Chinaman”: Committed suicide after eating throat lozenges soaked in strychnine. Was found dead in an upstairs bedroom.
  •  The Young Man: Died after having his throat cut on the ground floor.
  •  The baby in the well: People have reported hearing the cries of a baby near a disused well at the back of the inn.

Whether the ‘ghost busters’ discovered any ghosts, we do not know. If you know of any pub ghost stories, we would be eager to hear from you. Place your stories in the comment section below.

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