A PROFESSIONAL ghost hunter is set to be called in to a historic Grade II listed village pub amidst rumours the spirit of an old barmaid haunts the premises.

Once a popular eatery, The Shoulder of Mutton, in Halstead Road, Fordham, has been closed for a number of years and began to fall into a state of disrepair.

The pub had a leaky roof, flooded cellars, rotten timbers and an overgrown garden outside.

But last year businessman Jonathan Neill and his wife Jacqui purchased the premises, setting about on renovation works to bring it back to its former glory.

They hope to turn the business into a new licensed tearoom and antiques centre, creating nine new jobs and revitalising the 14th century building, if their plans are approved by Colchester Council.

But since renovation works began, Jonathan said strange things have been happening at the premises, and a few hidden secrets have been uncovered.

He said: "Firstly, an old pub sign dating back to the 60s was uncovered in the garden under huge brambles.

"It is in near perfect condition and we are hoping to put it back into its rightful place when the pub reopens.

"Next, following the removal of a menu blackboard, a hidden staircase was discovered dating back hundreds of years."

Once the staircase was exposed, Mr Neill said strange things really started to happen.

He said: "Lights began switching themselves on and off, glasses on the top of the bar started flipping upside down overnight.

"A former resident was briefly questioned and confirmed suspicions of ghost activity.

"She said that one of the ghosts had been nicknamed 'the green lady'.

"She was reluctant to say much more but it is believed this ghost is an old barmaid."

When the paranormal activity first began, everyone was quick to blame Jonathan himself as he has a reputation as a bit of a practical joker.

But now even he says he is too afraid to talk about it.

Jonathan said: "I am calling in the help of a professional ghost hunter next week to see if there is any anything strange happening at the Shoulder of Mutton or whether it is just my imagination."