• Story by Steve Peacock, taken from The Western Morning News, 20 March 2004.
Restaurant owners have been forced to call in an "exorcist" to get rid of a prudish ghost which customers were finding hard to swallow.
The stooping ghost of an old manservant had been spotted by several members of staff in the four years the former home of Totnes explorer William Wills has been a restaurant. But when he began ripping paintings of nudes off the walls of one of the dining areas in the restaurant owners Phil Silvester and Jenny Priest began to worry.
And when a visitor who had popped into the restaurant for a meal - who happened to be a medium - complained about the "unhappy" ghost the pair decided to do something about it.
They called in a friend who is an expert in paranormal phenomena, who managed to persuade the ghost to go.
"He came in and saw him almost immediately," said Jenny. "He told him that this was not his home any more, took him down the stairs and out the door."
The Wills Restaurant on the Plains was once the home of Victorian explorer William Wills who died taking part in the Burke and Wills exploration of Australia in the last century.
The ghost is thought to be that of a manservant dating back to the 1920s. The dining area he was haunting was once the sick room of his master and he apparently objected to the colour of the walls of the room and the pictures by Totnes artist Ione Martin which were on them.
Some of the pictures were nudes and the ghost is thought to have believed them "disrespectful" to his master, explained Jenny.
"The room was always really, really cold, even when the heating was on," said Jenny. She said several of the staff had seen the ghost in the area of the dining section and had described him as old, stooped or hunched over and
wearing a long woollen coat.
Jenny said that when they were using a late night cleaner her vacuum kept being switched on and off and eventually she refused to stay there at night on her own.
Then the pictures began coming off the wall even though they had been fixed on firmly with Velcro type materials and even clips. Each morning they would find the pictures on the floor or on the tables in the dining area, explained Jenny.
Things came to a head when a visitor turned up for a meal with his daughter and sensed the ghost immediately.