Located in rural Duplin County, NC, the Country Squire Restaurant, Winery and Inn throws old-world charm vibes in the best of ways. You’ll find the Country Squire just off the highway on your way to North Topsail Beach and/or Swansboro.
It’s definitely a stop you’ll want to make on your way to or from the beach.
There was no way I was passing up a chance to dine with ghosts when I was this close. I arrived shortly before dinner service was going to begin and checked into the inn for the night. My room was exactly what I needed for the evening, clean, tidy, comfortable and with a view of the garden. I was really hopeful for a ghost or two at the inn as well.
Tartan Wine Room
The Inn and Restaurant/Winery are situated next to one another and it’s an easy stroll from the inn, through the garden and into the restaurant.
Be sure to take time to stop in the Tartan Wine Room to sample the Country Squire wines. There were some very nice reds that I enjoyed and brought home with me.
The Country Squire Restaurant
The Country Squire is a world famous restaurant which has been enjoyed by guests, earthly and ethereal, since the early 1960’s.
The restaurant is made up of a labyrinth of rooms pieced together over the years with found materials. Including a 1780s farmhouse that was moved to this location to become the Tartan Tasting Room and Gift Shop. I love old buildings and the winery did not disappoint with its original hardwood floors and abundant character.
Dark woods and soft lighting dominate the interior of the Country Squire which lends itself well to really good ghost stories.
The original restaurant, a hand hewn log cabin, was built in 1961 by the owner, Joe West. Over the years additional rooms were added and the Country Squire dining areas now include rooms such as the Jester’s Court, Pantry Room, The Tavern, Wine Cellar Walkway (where I found the ghost hunter certificates on display), Mead Hall and more.
All told, the restaurant can seat 460 guests and there are weekends where they are booked solid with reservations so make a note to call ahead for availability.
The aesthetic is a blend of eclectic decor with touches of Scottish heritage, dim lighting, dark wood accents and wax dripping candles set on the dining room tables that toss an extra glow around the rooms.
I particularly like the tree I found in the walkway that joins the original log cabin with the larger Mead Hall dining area.
During dinner in Mead Hall I kept an eye turned for any otherworldly apparitions or things that simply didn’t belong.
Sadly, no ghost joined me for dinner, but afterwards I had the opportunity to talk with Iris Lennon, the owner of the Country Squire, and hear some of her ghost stories.
The Ghosts of Country Squire
Now, before you panic that you’ll be having dinner with a poltergeist rest assured that the spirits at Country Squire are friendly and you’d be quite lucky to meet one during your visit.
Iris shared stories about a “wee girl sitting on the steps” that lead to the wine tasting room and an older guy wearing a hat being spotted in the tavern and bar.
Mostly what she and others see are just glimpses of the girl and the man. They are there one moment and gone the next.
There are many stories of seeing people out of the corner of the eye (this is such a common occurrence and one that I experience frequently) and when you turn to look no one is there.
Stories of seeing apparitions, hearing footsteps when no one is there and even hearing music are told by guests and employees alike.
However, my favorite story is that of darts flying off the dartboard in the Tavern. No reason for the darts to leave the board and end up across the room, but here we are with witnesses validating they watched it happen.
There are so many ghostly interactions here that the Country Squire has an in-house investigator , Heritage Hunters, who have investigated the restaurant multiple times.
Other teams have investigated as well and left with documented proof of things that go bump in the night. Iris shared a few photos with me and directed me to the Heritage Hunters YouTube for more evidence.
I asked if we knew who any of the ghostly visitors may be and there isn’t any real concrete answers to that question.
Even though the restaurant has many ghostly stories there is nothing, much to my dismay, occurring at the inn. Even the lovely courtyard felt free from any ghostly visitors.
Sadly there were no flying darts or any other ghostly interactions for me during my visit, but I love the stories that surround this historic property.
All these stories often make me wonder if the ghosts in our world means we are ghosts in theirs. Maybe it works both ways? Maybe the places that have a lot of paranormal activity are just places where time and place is thin between two worlds.
That being said, it’s easy to see why ghosts would want to stay and visit the Country Squire. It’s a warm and inviting environment where both the living and those not of this time and place are welcome to stay a while.