|As one of England's most notorious haunted houses, The Ancient Ram certainly looks the part. Shrouded in autumnal mist, the centuries-old former hostelry squats half-submerged beside the road, a mass of uneven stone walls and decaying, darkened windows.|
Dressed in biker jacket, tight blue jeans, and bearing a more-than-passing resemblance to the late Rod Hull, John appears every bit as unconventional as his unusual home.
He helpfully recounted some of the numerous sinister tales attached to the inn, working through a large pile of yellowing newspaper cuttings and photocopies.
The Ancient Ram is believed to have witnessed ritual child sacrifice, black magic rituals, suicide and to have been the hideout of highwaymen.
John recalled a local clergyman's visit: "When he arrived he said, 'I'm not going in there, what you've got in there is very, very evil.'"
WeirdWhatever your stance on ghosts and the paranormal, it's difficult to imagine anyone not finding a visit to The Ancient Ram unnerving, or at least very odd.
The dim, chilly rooms heave with eerie antiques, memorabilia, and menacing stuffed animals.
Entering the "witches' room", John points out the stain where her spectral cat urinates on the bed.
From here we cross the landing into the "Bishop's room", which he describes as "the most haunted room in the world".
The low-ceilinged, crimson-curtained bedroom certainly has an oppressive, unpleasant ambience.
"Eight people who've slept here have had to be exorcised," said John, nonchalantly.
A night in here is not an inviting prospect. A snarling foxes' head adorns the wall, alongside a series of ominous portraits and a dressing table lined with religious ephemera.
John banged on the door in an attempt to "stir things up a bit". To my relief, he was unsuccessful.
OrbsThroughout our tour, John has me clicking away on my digital camera in the hope of capturing 'orbs' - glowing spheres frequently photographed at haunted sites.
Some paranormal devotees believe orbs to be the souls or life force of the dead - sceptics claim they are lens flare or dust.
John said that it was in the barn that orbs were most frequently spotted. Using the flash, I took several shot of the dark, cluttered room, which failed to yield anything unusual.
John stepped in, believing that his presence in the room may encourage them to appear. Did they? Check out the photo gallery and decide for yourself...
As I signed the guest book before leaving, I noticed that the preceding entries were by the team from Living TV show Most Haunted, who had recently completed a shoot at The Ram.
"Never been to a scarier place," wrote one of the crew.
Whether it's the finesse with which John recounts his weird tales, the inherent spookiness the building or the presence of something truly supernatural, I'd have to agree.