5 years, 6 months ago
London is loved because of its rich history. With remnants of every type of architecture since Roman times to be found, and more historic sights than the average city, it’s easy to get lost in the romanticism of ‘Ye olde’ London. However, London is not just a place for historians to get excited about old buildings. London is actually a city where its past lives can catch up with you. In fact, it’s said that you are never more than a few metres away from a body buried deep underground, as many of the green spaces in London were once cemeteries. With Halloween approaching and a ghoulish atmosphere sweeping over the city, we investigate the best – or worst – of Haunted London…
The tunnel to the Heathrow Express – Image © Tim Caynes
London’s most famous cemetery is Highgate Cemetery because of the well-known figures buried there, which include Karl Marx, Lucian Freud and Michael Faraday. Stretching over 37 acres, the East and West Cemeteries are the resting places for over 170,000 people. Take a guided tour to see the most famous graves… and to ensure you come out unscathed.
Highgate cemetery © Pietro Izzo
50 Berkeley Square is said to be the most haunted house in London, and when this is the opinion of an author who has studied the spooky goings on of London for nearly 30 years, who are we to disagree? Richard Jones has found evidence that this Georgian property has been an attraction to visitors fascinated by the afterlife since as early as 1913. Once reportedly left to fall into a state of disrepair by the then occupant Mr Myers – jilted by his bride to be in the mid 19th century – he lived only in one room during the day, coming out at night to move from room to room by candlelight – thus giving the appearance to those outside of a ghost zipping about. And when Mr Myers died in the property, it was reported that the same spirit-like movements didn’t stop… Now a smart looking property housing an antiquarian bookshop, we dare you to visit at night and draw your own conclusions…
Berkeley Square © Mark Hillary
Still in central London over on the Strand is The George, a fairly non-descript typical British pub. However during a refurbishment in the 1970s a decorator came face to face with “the laughing cavalier”, a man dressed in full 17th century dress laughing at his best painting efforts. As the poor chap explained to the landlord what he had seen, he was even more shocked by his boss’ reply; “Ah yes, my wife sees him all the time,”. Similar regular sightings of a ghost have been reported at The Viaduct Tavern on Newgate Street opposite the Old Bailey’s Central Criminal Courts. In the 1990s, a poltergeist spirit is believed to be responsible for locking the pub manager in the cellar and moving carpets and tools around when two electricians were carrying out work in an upstairs room. It’s not clear if this is the same ghost who is often seen at trials taking place in the courts of the Old Bailey as reported by men and women of the law. And you wouldn’t expect them to lie would you?
If you’re starting to feel a little uncomfortably spooked by all this, one thing you don’t want to do is relax by taking in a show in London’s West End, as most of the theatres have their own ghost or two. Theatre Royal on Drury Lane is reported to be the city’s most haunted theatre, dominated by the spirits of an actor who died during a stage fright in the 18th century, a onetime famous clown called Grimaldi who directs nervous actors and an old music hall entertainer who can be heard dancing in unoccupied dressing rooms.
Image © THOR
And that’s before we even mention the gang of ghosts who have been seen at the Tower of London, including the headless bodies of Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey, Thomas Becket and Richard III’s nephews and the Princes of the Tower; all of whom lost their lives there. Visit at your peril…
Tower of London © Edward Simpson
St Paul’s at night header photo – Image © markspokes49