London is allegedly the most haunted city in the world and there is a whole
host of ghostly tales that take place in the capital. Hallowe’en, along with the
Winter solstice is when the barrier between the spirit world and ours is
permeable and ghosts return en masse. Not scary at all!
I have devised a list of interesting ghost nuggets for you:
1. The most haunted tourist attraction
It is completely understandable and logical that the Tower of London is
considered the most haunted building in London if not the world.
- It is old.
- It has had lots of nasty goings on there.
- It looks like it should be haunted.
This former palace is more like a medieval village with walkways and
alleyways, turrets and towers and it has enough ghosts to fill most towns.
There are ghosts we would expect at the Tower, including Ann Boleyn (with
and without her head) who has been seen in different parts of the tower and
wandering mournfully around her execution site. Thomas A Beckett was the
very first ghost to be seen here; apparently, he objected to some alterations
that were taking place – a latter day Prince Charles! There have also been
sightings of two small boys playing by the White Tower. No doubt, these
relate to the princes in the tower whose bones were found during the 17 th
century. My favourite ghost is a bear – yep, one unlucky guard who spied a
great grey bear and was so shocked that he thrust his bayonet into the
apparition with so much force that it took two soldiers to release it from the
wooden door in which it was embedded. He died two days later from shock
and no doubt haunts the tower and so it goes on!
2. The most haunted pub
I don’t know why so many people seem to see ghosts after they have been
drinking but there are almost as many ghosts in pubs as there are pubs!
There are poltergeists that move beer and hide keys (I think we all have one
of those in our homes), men in period clothing and plenty of shady ladies. The
Ten Bells in London’s Spitalfields has many of these. One such lady is
wearing green and walks in the basement near the lavatories. She is allegedly
the final victim of Jack the Ripper, Mary Kelly, who was murdered in nearby
Whites Row. She was drinking in the pub before she was brutally murdered
on 9 th November 1888. The green dress denotes her Irish heritage and the
fact that she haunts the lavatories makes me think that this is the real reason
why women go to the loo in pairs.
3. The most haunted building
50 Berkeley Square is not a place to be taken lightly. It is a miracle that it
hasn’t been pulled down out of sheer terror. The ‘beast of Berkeley Square’
has been seen and heard at this address for many years. There were rumours
abound from the 1840’s so armed with this information, you would imagine
people would give this place a wide berth! Unfortunately, it had the opposite
effect. Ghost hunters and those who love a wager have all met the same
horrific end. One such brave speculator was Sir Robert Warboys who had
learned of a room within this house where hideous and nasty things
happened. So he took on a bet and asked the landlord if he could stay within
the room. The landlord tried to convince him not to but in the end agreed that
if anything happened, Sir Robert would pull a string that was attached to a bell
in the landlord’s room below.
Yes, you guessed it, shortly after midnight, the bell in the landlord’s room was
rung violently and so the landlord ran up the stairs armed with staff and
weapons and through open the door to the room. There he was, the hideous
form of Sir Robert, mouth and eyes opened in wide terror as if what he saw
was so hideous, he was literally scared to death. This was not the last time
that such a death occurred there but hopefully, over the years, progress in
entertainment, casinos and betting shops, has meant that people can get their
4. The weirdest ghost
Take your pick – the chicken ghost of Highgate? The possessed arm of the
City of London? Or maybe Ladbroke Grove’s own haunted bus?
My vote is for the chicken ghost! Many of us have heard of Sir Francis
Bacon’s experiment with freezing food, in particular his forays into freezing a
chicken. On a particularly cold April day, 1626, he buried a chicken in snow
and came back to discover that when it defrosted a few days later, it was still
edible. Now comes the sad part. Sir Francis caught a chill whilst out and
about which turned into pneumonia and he died soon after. However, this is
the strange bit: it is not Sir Francis who haunts Highgate but the chicken.
Reports of sightings of a badly plucked chicken came soon after Sir Francis’s
death and have been going ever since. The chicken seems to run around
Highgate Pond like the proverbial headless fowl or sits spookily up a tree. If
anyone goes near, it vanishes. WWII air raid wardens, a local vicar and others
have experienced this chilling apparition, probably before heading off to the
5. The busiest ghost
Ann Boleyn has an agent; well, I think if she hasn’t, she is a very driven self-
publicist. Her ghost is seen in nearly every quarter of England. She haunts her
family home, Blickling castle in Norfolk, Rochford Hall, where Henry VIII first
laid eyes on his new queen-to-be, Hever castle, Hampton Court, Windsor
castle and she has just announced a residency in Las Vegas (to be verified).
In London, she haunts her former residence in London, York Place, which is
found near the Thames close to the Embankment, however, her favourite
place to haunt is the Tower of London which she does in many ways.
One night in London’s most haunted castle, a Captain of the guard saw a
flickering light coming from the Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula. Knowing
that this building was locked at night, he decided to look into this. He grabbed
a ladder and leant it up against the window. It took him a few moments to
understand what he was seeing. He had disturbed a night-time procession of
knights and ladies who were following a lady dressed in elegant garb and
clearly recognisable as Ann Boleyn. She has also been observed hurrying
along the path between the chapel and the Queen’s House, where she stayed
the night before her execution. The execution site itself has also had reports
of sightings of Henry VIII’s second wife but at this location, she is headless.
This is probably the most terrifying of her manifestations and a bit of a show-
stopper. She can be seen Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at the Tower
of London! Enjoy at your peril!
As a tour guide and a lover of London, I will be writing a series of interesting stories about London; tales I have heard, places I have visited, tasty food I have eaten and delicious drinks I have enjoyed. Watch out for this every week or so.