Thursday, February 4, 2016

An unexpected seafarer—Delray Beach, Florida

Blue Anchor Pub
804 East Atlantic Avenue
Delray Beach, Florida

On the evening of September 29, 1888, two ladies departed from the Blue Anchor Pub into the foggy evening. Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes, though they were only looking for a customer to pay for a few minutes of pleasure, had appointments with Fate on the dark streets that evening. Around 1 AM the next morning, Stride’s ravaged body was discovered. Eddowes’ mutilated and disfigured body, cut open with a ferocious surgical precision, was discovered nearby about 45 minutes later. Jack the Ripper—as the still unidentified murderer became known—had struck again.

The doors of the Blue Anchor Pub in Chancery Lane off Fleet Street in London would remain open for journalists, barristers, ladies of the evening, and perhaps Jack the Ripper himself, for many decades before they closed for good to London traffic in the mid-1980s. Within roughly a decade of their closing, the doors reopened to customers along Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach, Florida. When the pub was torn down to allow for a widening project on Chancery Lane, an American developer purchased the exterior of the mid-19th century public house. With its authentic exterior, the Blue Anchor reopened in 1996 and quickly became a popular watering hole for journalists including many from American Media, Inc., publisher of the tabloid magazine, the National Enquirer.

Along with imported ales, beers, and spirits available at the bar, there is one spirit that was apparently imported with the original parts of the Blue Anchor and available only when she decides to appear. Seafaring tradition holds that sailors would gain luck from drinking at a pub called “Blue Anchor” before embarking on a journey over the sea. Perhaps this is the reason that Bertha Starkey was at the Blue Anchor with her seafarer husband the fateful night that she was stabbed by him in a fit of jealousy. Of course no one knew that Bertha’s spirit would eventually go seafaring as her spirit supposedly followed the pub’s exterior to Florida.


A sous-chef at the restaurant met Bertha one evening when a heavy 30-gallon pot hanging from a hook above the stove unhooked itself and fell upon him knocking him down. Not long after, the owner and the head chef later saw a veiled woman walk through the bar. Staff members heard footsteps that are seemingly coming from upstairs, though the bar is only one story. Legend associates this activity with Bertha Starkey, though the activity could also be connected to the various former patrons and staff who walked through the heavy oak doors of the Blue Anchor to escape the foggy streets of London and now exit to the palm tree-lined streets of Delray Beach.

Sources
Lomartire, Paul. “’Enquirer’ boss sent pub owner to Key Biscayne
     To test Nixon’s pool.” The Palm Beach Post. 22 October 2001.
Lomartire, Paul. “Hoist a pint, drink up the history.” The Palm Beach
     Post. 22 October 2001.
Meyer, Meghan. “A pub’s haunting tale.” The Palm Beach Post. 4 March
     2004.
Pearce, Jamie Roush. Historic Haunts Florida II. Jamie Roush Pearce, 2014.
Thuma, Cynthia & Catherine Lower. Haunted Florida: Ghosts and Strange
     Phenomena of the Sunshine State. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole, 2008.

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