The Horsemen Inn — a short story for English reading and speaking

The Horsemen Inn blog pic-min



Are there any abandoned old buildings in your hometown?

What stories or tales are there about these places?

Would you stay the night in this place?


The Horsemen Inn


“We’re here,” Charlotte murmured, still half-asleep, her senses alert to Sam, the man she had married less than twenty-four hours earlier, at the wheel of the car.

What greeted her upon opening her eyes left her breathless. “It’s beautiful,” she whispered.

Sam pulled the car to a stop, and they stepped out, gazing at The Horsemen Inn before them.

“I didn’t think it was real,” Sam admitted, rubbing the tiredness from his eyes. The inn had been shrouded in mystery, known only through cryptic online messages. They had chosen Cornwall for their honeymoon, a place Charlotte had cherished since childhood.

However, the choice of commercial hotels they saw online left them feeling disheartened. “None of these places are anywhere near the Cornwall I remember,” Charlotte said.

Then, a message arrived on TripTrekker, the travel app they were using for their trip to Cornwall. It simply read: “Go to The Horsemen Inn.” No further details. Sam scoured the app and other websites, but found nothing. Then another message with a link: “Check this map.”

Though the website looked like a relic from the ’90s, it contained a map. Sam downloaded it and showed it to Charlotte. “Let’s go here,” he suggested. Charlotte longed for a place filled with childhood wonder, untouched by the crowds.

They arrived at the inn, a pair of ancient wooden doors arched before them. The walls were constructed from enormous stone slabs as if the inn had risen from the very granite on which it stood.

The doors creaked open, revealing a grey-haired man who greeted them warmly in soft Cornish tones. “Evening to you. Are you here to stay the night?”

Charlotte nodded. “Yes, do you have a room available?”

The man gave a slight bow and ushered them inside. The front desk held no phone or computer. The dimly lit interior was crafted from antique wood, with creaking floorboards and a ticking grandfather clock. It felt as though time had stopped in the middle of the eighteenth century.

The old man led them upstairs to their room, featuring a bay window overlooking the sea, waves crashing on the shore below. Charlotte and Sam marvelled at the room’s grandeur, including a colossal four-poster bed.

The bed alone was bigger than their entire bedroom in their tiny flat back in London.

They had only been married for less than a day, and they decided to make their first night memorable.

In the middle of the night, Charlotte woke abruptly, hearing voices and footsteps in the courtyard below. Her phone lay in her bag, left by the door. She crept to the window, hiding behind the lace curtain, and witnessed an unbelievable sight.

A group of men in long black capes and three-cornered hats stood in the courtyard, huddled together, muttering. Another man, emerging from nearby steps, addressed them in gruff tones. Charlotte couldn’t hear what they were saying, but it didn’t sound good.

Then the leader gestured, and the men lit torches. Shadows danced across the stone walls as they marched into the inn’s main courtyard.

Charlotte woke Sam in a panic. “Sam, something strange is happening. We need to leave right now!”

Sam, initially bewildered, saw the fear in her eyes. He rushed to the window and saw the masked men on horseback, brandishing knives.

Without hesitation, Charlotte and Sam dressed hurriedly. They grabbed what they could and quietly opened the door. Moments later, they fled the room and made their way down the stairs.

The front door was unlocked, and they crept outside. A man on horseback appeared, torch in hand, and challenged them. “What’s happening here?” he called out, alerting the others.

The man was quickly joined by others from his party. All dressed in black, all with masks covering their faces.

Charlotte and Sam dashed for the inn’s main gateway. Horses’ hooves clattered behind them as they sprinted onto the dark road ahead.

Leading the way, Charlotte heard a struggle and glanced back to see two men restraining Sam. “Get the girl,” one of them ordered.

Sam locked eyes with Charlotte, fear in his gaze. “Run, Charlotte! Run!”

She paused for a second, not knowing exactly what to do next. But Sam yelled out to her once more to run.

So she fled, sprinting down the dark lane and through the trees. Her husband was left behind, and she vowed to find help and return for him.

Exhausted, she reached a small village shrouded in darkness and silence. Desperate, she pounded on the nearest door. A man answered and listened to her harrowing tale.

At first, he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. But finally, he called the police.

After what felt like an eternity, a police car arrived, and officers questioned Charlotte. She recounted the bizarre events and begged them to hurry and rescue her husband.

One officer scratched his head. “The Horsemen Inn, you say? There’s nothing there, just an old, ruined house.”

Charlotte was incredulous, feeling as though she had entered another world. Finally, the police agreed to take her back to the inn.

As they drove up the lane, the first light of dawn broke. Charlotte was relieved to see the sun’s rays piercing through the trees.

But when the police car halted, one officer asked, “Is this the place?”

There stood The Horsemen Inn, but it bore no resemblance to the place they had stayed the night before. The doors were missing, and half of the inn had collapsed. A tree sprouted from the interior of the ruined building.

It had been abandoned for centuries, a decaying relic of the past.


Reading Comprehension Questions


Who is the main character in the story?

Where did Charlotte and Sam decide to go for their honeymoon?

Why did Charlotte and Sam feel disheartened when looking at commercial hotels online?

How did Charlotte and Sam first hear about The Horsemen Inn?

Describe the appearance of The Horsemen Inn when Charlotte and Sam arrived.

What era did the interior of The Horsemen Inn seem to be stuck in?

How did the old man at the inn greet Charlotte and Sam?

What did Charlotte and Sam’s room at The Horsemen Inn overlook?

What did Charlotte and Sam find particularly impressive in their room?

What did Charlotte witness in the middle of the night from her window?

How did Charlotte react when she saw the group of masked men outside the inn?

What did the masked men in the courtyard carry?

How did Charlotte and Sam escape from The Horsemen Inn?

What happened to Sam when they were fleeing?

Where did Charlotte seek help after escaping from the inn?

How did the man in the small village react to Charlotte’s story?

What did the police officers initially think of Charlotte’s story?

What did the police discover when they returned to The Horsemen Inn with Charlotte?

How had The Horsemen Inn changed from the previous night?

What do you think might have happened at The Horsemen Inn, considering the differences between Charlotte and Sam’s experience and the police officers’ findings?


Essential Vocabulary







Bay window



























Write down all the words and phrases in your vocabulary notebook. Look in your dictionary and find the meaning of each word. Write the definition next to each word.

Then make up your own sentences using each word or phrase.

For example:



Verb: To speak or say something in a low, soft, and indistinct voice, often indicating secrecy or hesitation.



Adjective: Extremely large or enormous in size, extent, or degree, often used to emphasize the immense scale or magnitude of something.


Then write a sentence of your own that uses the new word or phrase correctly.



In the quiet library, students often murmured softly as they discussed their research projects.



The elephant, with its colossal size and strength, is considered one of the largest land animals on Earth.


Do this with all the vocabulary and, over time, this will help improve all your English skills — reading, writing, speaking and listening.


True or False?


Look at all the statements below from the story.

Say which ones are true or false.

Check your answers at the end of the lesson plan!


Charlotte and Sam chose Cornwall for their honeymoon.


The commercial hotels they saw online in Cornwall left them feeling excited.


They received cryptic messages on a travel app suggesting they visit The Horsemen Inn.


The inn was described as a modern, high-tech place in the messages.


The innkeeper at The Horsemen Inn spoke in a loud and gruff manner.


The interior of The Horsemen Inn seemed frozen in the 18th century.


The inn had a front desk with a computer and a phone.


Charlotte and Sam’s room at the inn overlooked a forest.


The bed in their room was smaller than the one they had back in London.


Charlotte witnessed a group of masked men outside the inn at night.


The masked men were on horseback and brandishing guns.


Charlotte and Sam managed to escape from the inn without any trouble.


Charlotte found help in a bustling village near The Horsemen Inn.


The police officers believed Charlotte’s story about the inn.


The condition of The Horsemen Inn remained unchanged when the police arrived.



Guess the Correct Meaning


Look at all the phrases in the table below.


Police car

Ticking grandfather clock

Small village shrouded in darkness and silence

Four-poster bed


Antique wood

Masked men in long black capes

Cryptic online messages

Horses’ hooves

Bay window


Now match them with the correct meaning below.


A vacation or trip taken by a newly married couple to celebrate their marriage and spend time together.


Messages that are mysterious, puzzling, or difficult to understand when communicated through the internet.


Wood that is old and valuable due to its age, often used in crafting furniture and other items.


A traditional clock with a pendulum that swings back and forth, making a ticking sound with each movement.


A large window that extends outward from the main wall of a building, often creating a nook or alcove.


A bed with four tall posts at each corner, typically supporting a canopy or curtains.


Individuals wearing disguises, usually with their faces covered, and cloaks that extend down their backs.


The sound made by the hard, horny part of a horse’s foot when it hits the ground.


A quiet and dimly lit settlement hidden from view.


A vehicle used by law enforcement officers to patrol, respond to emergencies, and transport suspects or individuals.



Guess the Correct Synonym


Look at the table of words below. Match each word with the correct synonym.

A synonym is a word of similar meaning.

Check the right answers at the end of the lesson plan.




















Guess the Correct Antonym


Look at the table of words below. Match each word with the correct antonym.

An antonym is a word of opposite meaning.

Check the right answers at the end of the lesson plan.




















Fill in the Missing Words


Look at the table of words in the table below.

















Now use these words to fill in the gap in the correct sentences below.

You can check all your answers at the end of the lesson plan!


Charlotte _______ softly when she woke up.


Sam stayed _______ to any potential danger.


They both _______ at the mysterious inn in Cornwall.


The inn was _______ in mystery.


The message on the app was _______ and unclear.


Charlotte and Sam felt _______ when they saw the commercial hotels.


The inn seemed like a _______ from the past.


The _______ of the inn was impressive.


Charlotte and Sam heard the floorboards _______ as they walked.


The masked men were _______ torches.


Charlotte was _______ by what she saw outside.


Sam tried to _______ Charlotte to leave.


They _______ to a small village seeking help.


The police were initially _______ about Charlotte’s story.


The inn had been _______ for centuries.



Discussion Questions


What did Charlotte and Sam choose Cornwall for?

Why did the commercial hotels they found online disappoint them?

How did Charlotte and Sam learn about The Horsemen Inn?

What was mysterious about the messages they received about the inn?

Describe the appearance of The Horsemen Inn when they arrived.

How would you feel if you found yourself in a place like The Horsemen Inn?

What was unusual about the inn’s interior?

How did the innkeeper greet Charlotte and Sam?

What made Charlotte and Sam decide to leave the inn in the middle of the night?

What did Charlotte see from her window in the middle of the night?

Describe the masked men Charlotte saw in the courtyard.

What did Sam tell Charlotte when they were fleeing the inn?

What did Charlotte do after escaping to the small village?

How did the police initially react to Charlotte’s story?

What did they discover when they returned to The Horsemen Inn?

Do you think The Horsemen Inn was a real place or something else?

What do you think might have happened to Sam?

How would you react in a similar situation to Charlotte and Sam’s?

Have you ever experienced a mysterious or unexpected event during a trip?

Would you be interested in visiting a place like The Horsemen Inn? Why or why not?



Exploring Abandoned Buildings and Their Mysterious Stories


This is a group discussion activity.




This discussion exercise is designed to help you practice your speaking and critical thinking skills while discussing abandoned buildings in your hometown that have strange tales or legends attached to them.

It will encourage you to share stories, express opinions, and engage in group discussions.


Materials Needed:


  • A list of abandoned buildings in your area with mysterious stories or legends (research in advance — look online or ask each other about this).
  • Whiteboard or blackboard and markers.
  • Paper and pens for note-taking.




Warm-Up (10 minutes):


Begin by asking each other in the class some questions related to abandoned buildings:

  • Have you ever visited an abandoned building?
  • Do you know of any abandoned buildings in your hometown?
  • Have you heard any strange or mysterious stories about these buildings?
  • Would you be interested in exploring abandoned buildings with mysterious stories?


Introduction (5 minutes):


You will be discussing abandoned buildings in your hometown, and the strange tales attached to them. Share a brief summary of “The Horsemen Inn” story as a starting point.


Brainstorming (10 minutes):


Divide the class into small groups or pairs and provide everyone with a list of abandoned buildings in your area along with their associated stories.

Each group chooses one building and discusses the following:

  • What is the story or legend associated with this building?
  • How do people in your hometown feel about this building?
  • Have there been any attempts to renovate or preserve it?


Group Discussion (15 minutes):


Bring everyone back together and have each group share the information they discussed.

Encourage the other students to ask questions and seek clarification.

Use the whiteboard to jot down key points.


Critical Thinking (10 minutes):


This is a critical thinking exercise:

Talk about the reasons why people are intrigued by abandoned buildings with mysterious stories.

Think about the impact of such stories on the community and tourism.

Discuss whether abandoned buildings should be preserved or demolished.


Sharing Personal Stories (10 minutes):


Now you are going to share any personal experiences or stories related to abandoned buildings in your hometown. Use descriptive language and share your feelings about these places.



Role Play Scenario: Charlotte and the Confused Police Officer


This is a role play activity.




  • Charlotte (from the story above)
  • A police officer


The Situation:


Charlotte has just returned to the abandoned Horsemen Inn, where she stayed the previous night with her husband, Sam. She is trying to convince the police officer that the inn was not in ruins when she was there, and she is concerned about the safety of her husband. The police officer is confused and sceptical, as he knows the inn has been abandoned for many years.


In pairs, take some time to prepare your role play.

When you are ready, show the class!




This is a creative writing exercise.




The Horsemen Inn — A Tale of Smugglers and Vagabonds




In this writing exercise, you will create a short story set in the past, focusing on the mysterious and clandestine activities of the men who inhabited The Horsemen Inn. Your story will explore the themes of smuggling, intrigue, and adventure while practising your English writing skills.




Imagine a historical setting for your story, taking place many years ago, in a small coastal village in Cornwall, England.




Introduce your main character, who can be a curious local resident or a traveller passing through the village.

Create a group of mysterious men who frequent The Horsemen Inn. These men are known for their secretive and illicit activities, such as smuggling goods along the coast.




Describe the village and The Horsemen Inn in detail, painting a vivid picture of the surroundings. Use sensory details to immerse your readers in the setting.




Develop a plot that revolves around the main character’s interactions with the smugglers at The Horsemen Inn.

Are they drawn into the world of smuggling, or are they trying to uncover the truth behind the inn’s mysterious activities?




Build tension and conflict in your story. Explore the risks and dangers associated with the smugglers’ activities.

Is there a threat from law enforcement or rival smuggling gangs?




Conclude your story with a resolution that ties up loose ends.

Does the main character’s life change as a result of their encounters at The Horsemen Inn?

What lessons have they learned?




Aim for a short story of about 300-500 words.




After completing your story, you can share it with the class, fostering discussion and providing feedback on each other’s work.


Read your story out loud in front of the class.

Or you can ask your teacher for a review of your writing.

You can download the full lesson plan by clicking the link below!

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