The Haunted (Public) House

It’s a tale that’s never properly been told. The history of Mitcham’s popular Edinburgh Hotel & Cellars, with its ghost stories, Victorian tales and 150-year heritage.

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The hotel is an iconic landmark in the heart of Adelaide’s inner south. Tucked away amid Mitcham’s picturesque tree-lined streets, the original shopfronts of neighbouring buildings hanker to the hotel’s early days, back when it used to serve as a watering hole for quarry men on their way home from work. Until recently, the wooden pole where the men used to tie their horses while they went inside for a drink was still in place in front of the hotel, facing High Street. Council removed it due to its age and condition – the hotel’s cellars, however, still have the original hitching post.

This hasn’t been Council’s only interjection during the hotel’s 150 years. In 1974 there were plans in place to demolish the building to make way for a hotel/motel complex – the community rallied and a 1500-person-strong petition lodged to Council quashed the plans. The win meant that the original 1869 stone-fronted facade would remain, and while extensions have been added and upgrades made over the years, the historic character of the original building is still intact.

Of course, like the architecture and stonework, many tales and stories about the original building also remain – such as the owner of the corner store, which is now the Edinburgh Cellars, who used to sell haberdashery and lollies. The aniseed balls, four for a penny, were popular with local children. Or the stories of ghosts who supposedly haunt the original part of the hotel to this day. “There have been two deaths in the hotel – one was a child,” says general manager Patrick Allan. “Some staff have reported seeing the reflection of a small figure when they’re opening up early in the morning. The sightings have always been in the front bar.”

The front bar is in the north wing of the hotel and was built in 1914 – the space includes the Village Bar (named after Mitcham Village), High Street Bar and the Victorian Dining Room. Since then, of course, there have been numerous other additions and renovations, including construction of the Pavillion Restaurant, a new kitchen and an extension of the Village Bar. The current owners, Chris Codling and Danny Djurasevich, also purchased and imported two English gas lights to attach to the cast iron light posts out the front of the hotel. This was one of their first purchases when they bought the hotel back in 1978. “It was an early indication of the affection and investment that the pair have for the area and the community,” says Patrick.

Chris and Danny have now owned the hotel for over 40 years. Before them 39 other publicans ensured a continuous liquor licence throughout the venue’s illustrious, and sometimes checkered, 150-year history. For more information on this year’s 150-year celebrations of The Edinburgh Hotel and Cellars visit edinburgh.com.au.

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