Haunted London: 11 places to visit and investigateSaturday, July 02, 2016 Sightseeing and Landmarks by Elina Pedersen
There are people who believe in ghosts and people who don’t. Some of us are skeptical and some just need a little proof.
No matter if you are a believer or not, some of the haunted places on my list will make you shiver.
London being one of the oldest continuously occupied cities in Europe keeps many dark secrets. From funny ghosts to fearsome ones – London has it all.
Haunted Pubs and Drunken Ghosts
The pub ghosts are probably the jolliest on my list. Loo loving, furniture moving, beer drinking – those ghosts will not scare you.
They are easy to come across, as after a few pints of beer even the most serious of us become a tad less doubtful.
The Viaduct Tavern
The Tavern won the Best Historic Pub award by the Telegraph. When you visit the tavern you will never guess that there is a ghost living upstairs. The pub is a traditional late Victorian gin palace dating back to 1875. It is located just across the road from the Old Baily (Central Criminal Court).
Apparently, the Viaduct Tavern ghost is more of a prankster than a real sad soul. He likes locking people in and playing jokes on carpenters.
The ghost first appeared in 1996 and decided to lock the manager in the cellar by slam shutting the door and turning off the lights.
On the second appearance the ghost played a silly trick with two carpenters who worked upstairs. It tapped one carpenters shoulder, while the second one was in the different part of the room.
When both carpenters started staring at each other the ghost lifted a rolled carpet that was lying by the window into the air and dropped it heavily on to the floor.
Location: Newgate Street, City of London, EC1
The Old Queen’s Head
The Old Queen’s Head is considered to be the second most haunted pub in the country. Trust me, with the England’s diverse history it is not an easy title to get.
Built in 1440 the pub was initially used as a hunting lodge. The Old Queen’s Head was reconstructed many times. Nonetheless, through almost 600 years of its history the pub cultivated some of the most ridiculous English ghosts.
One of the ghosts likes spending time in the female toilet. He is very well known for unrolling toilet paper and unlocking cubical doors when someone is inside.
The other spirit decided to come by for a pint of beer.
One evening the landlord was checking through the pub after the opening time and he noticed a full pint of beer on the table. He got angry with his staff for not cleaning it up, but none of them knew where the pint came from.
The landlord tried the beer, but it didn’t taste like any beer he sold or tried before. He decided to leave the pint on the table for the night and when he came back the glass was empty.
The landlord never came across this ghost again, so perhaps his thirsty soul is finally at peace?
The third ghost of the Old Queen’s Head is said to be a Civil War soldier from Oliver Cromwell’s times who likes to stand next to the fireplace and look at the pub’s visitors. He doesn’t have any malice in mind. Some believe he doesn’t know he is dead.
Finally, it seems that the pub’s furniture also has a mind of its own. One of the old cabinets that were moved from the sitting area to the cellar is always seen moved away from the wall it is placed next to. Pub workers believe that the cabinet is trying to find its way back to the place where it initially sat.
There are some more stories of ghosts and haunted objects in the Old Queen’s Head, but I will stop here. Go and visit the pub to find out more!
Creepiness: 4/10, no one wants a ghost gazing at you when you eat!
Location: 44 Essex Rd, London N1 8LN
The Ten Bells
This is the saddest place from all of our ghost visited pubs. The Ten Bells is located in Whitechapel and ghosts of Whitechapel have long become a synonym of Jack the Ripper’s murders.
Police investigation of one of Jack the Ripper’s killings had discovered that his second victim – Annie Chapman drank in the pub the whole night before she was slaughtered.
She was killed a little before 6 am on the 8th of September 1888.
Remember the date, as this is when Annie comes out to play!
Annie Chapman is not violent and she has never been seen in a corporeal form (at least not in Ten Bells). There is no malice in her haunting, but she can move a pint glass or a pack of crisps across the table on the anniversary of her death.
Some people say that on the 8th of September at midnight you can feel the air temperature dropping in the pub. Several visitors reported a pair of cold hands touching them on the shoulders and hips.
Location: The Ten Bells, Shoreditch, E1
The Bow Bells
I really don’t know what’s wrong with all the ghosts who like to hang out in the ladies’ toilets. This specific ghost finds his pleasure in flushing toilets whilst ladies are sitting on the toilet seat.
In 1974 the pub’s landlord got upset with the ghost and decided to hold a séance to help the spirit move on. The ghost got really upset and slammed the toiler door with such force that the door’s pane of glass broke. It has been replaced the next day and the ghost was left alone.
Nowadays this loo-flashing ghost still haunts the pub and continues with his naughty business involving lady bottoms.
Creepiness: 4/10 (Be careful ladies!)
Location: The Bow Bells, Bow Road, E3
Haunted Castles and Palaces
Let’s move on to more historically significant and slightly creepier locations.
Castles are old, castles are big and castles are somehow out of this world.
Most castles lost their main purpose in the late medieval century as they became obsolete. They were difficult to build and impossible to maintain.
However one castle remained in the capital – The Tower of London or simply the Tower.
The Tower of London Ghosts
Initially built for war purposes the Tower soon became a prison and most importantly a royal residence.
The castles current look and the overall layout did not change from 13th century onwards.
The Tower of London played an important part in British history. The fortress has been besieged several times and whoever controlled the Tower also controlled the country.
It is not surprising that such oppressive building is a home to not one, but several lost souls, some of which happen to be royals.
The most prominent ones are: Anne Boleyn, Henry VI, Lady Jane Grey and Margaret Pole.
Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII was beheaded in the Tower of London in 1536 for treason against her husband. Presumably, she is seen walking around the White Tower with her head under her arm.
In the end of 19th century the captain of the Tower guards saw a flickering light in the Chapel Royal late at night. He looked through the locked window and he was terrified. He saw Boleyn accompanied by dozens of ghosts pacing the chapel. He easily recognized her, as apparently her outfit identically resembled the one he had seen on one of her portraits. The procession had later disappeared and the captain decided to resign.
Tower of London is not the only location haunted by Anne Boleyn. She is also seen in Windsor Castle, Hampton Court Palace and Hever Castle. So if you are into Anne, you have not one but 4 locations you would need to explore.
18 years later Lady Jane Grey suffered the same fate as Anna Boleyn. She was beheaded in the Tower’s courtyard straight after her husband Lord Guildford Dudley.
The married couple still haunts the place of their death at night.
Lady Jane Grey can be seen standing in the window, presumably looking at the courtyard where she first saw her husbands’ headless body, before she was executed herself.
The faith of the Tower’s next ghost is even gloomier. A strong-spirited woman – Margaret Pole experienced a truly painful and excruciating death at the age of 72.
Margaret Pole was sentenced to death, but she did not go easy. She had no idea what her crime was and she did not plan to submit without a fight. When she was taken to the courtyard she refused to lay her head on the wooden block.
The young executioner took his first swing at her whilst she struggled and his first blow made a gash in her shoulder. Some accounts say that Margaret ran from the executioner and he had to literally pursue her, whilst trying to execute her “on the go”. The young man being stressed and panicked hacked Margaret’s head and body into pieces and she was still alive!
Even after many blows Margaret kept fighting and it took 2 more swings to kill her. She is not at peace and she is often seen running from the ghostly executioner on the 27th of May, the anniversary of her death.
Hundreds of people were executed at the Tower of London over time and it’s not surprising that the place is “infested” with ghosts.
Some less known ghosts are… animals.
The “phantom grizzly” is a ghost of a bear. The story of this ghost is pretty straight forward: many years ago a huge ghostly bear appeared in front of the Tower of London night guard. The guard got scared so badly that he dropped dead. But where did the bear come from? The guard didn’t say…
Well, apparently there were 2 bears living in the Tower in the past. One was a polar bear given to Henry III as a present by the King of Norway and the second one was a grizzly bear given to George III as a gift by the Hudson Bay Company.
One of them must have had something to do with this midnight visit.
Creepiness: 7/10. Too many ghosts in one place.
Location: London, EC3N 4AB
Hampton Court Palace and the England’s most famous ghost.
Hampton Court Palace is a beautiful building incorporating one of the England’s most fascinating gardens.
Through 500 years of history the palace have seen many dramatic events.
Being one of the main historical attractions close to London, Hampton Court has plenty of visitors each day. Some of them end up experiencing the unexplainable.
Surprisingly most events happening on site are very well documented. Even if those events are literally “out of this world”. Some ghosts end up being caught on camera…
Well done Hampton Court Palace security team!
The Skeletor is probably the England’s most famous ghost. He was accidentally filmed by a CCTV camera in October 2003.
Here it is:
Some people believe that the Skeletor’s clothes are very similar to something that Henry VIII would wear, thus this might be the royal highness himself.
Nonetheless, Henry VIII is not the only royal ghost at Hampton Court. His 5th wife Catherine Howard was held in Hampton Court as a prisoner under the house arrest in 1541. Being accused of adultery, Catharine knew that her husband is planning to execute her.
One evening she escaped from her guards and ran down the Hampton Court Gallery looking for the King to beg for mercy. The next moment she was caught and dragged back screaming to her chambers. Very soon she was executed at the Tower of London.
Nowadays, people who live close by the Hampton Court often say that they hear screaming at night coming from the palace.
The scientists from the University of Hertfordshire studied the matter back in 2000. Their findings are inconclusive but one thing is clear: random people get the same spooky feeling in the specific part of the gallery.
Catherine Howard is not the only Henry’s wife whose presence is still felt at the Hampton Court Palace.
The Kings third and favourite wife – Jane Seymour died in the palace during the birth of Henry VIII’s only son – Edward. Her spirit is said to still wander the Clock Court at night.
The last and the most permanent ghost of Hampton Court is Sibell Penn. She is also known as “The Lady in Grey”.
Sibel was a nurse to Prince Edward, Henry and Jane Seymour’s only son. Sibel died in 1562 and she was buried in a church nearby. The church was pulled down back in 19th century so Sibel’s remains were disturbed.
Strange things started happening straight after the demolitions. The noises of someone working a spinning wheel were heard from behind the wall in one of the palace’s wings. When the wall was removed in search during a reconstruction a secret room was found with an old spinning wheel. It is believed that Sibel inhabited this room during her time at the court.
You can find more information about the ghosts inhabiting Hampton court palace on the Historic Royal Palaces official website.
Location: East Molesey, Surrey KT8 9AU
Ghosts of Windsor Castle
From all the royal residents we talked about Windsor is perhaps the most interesting one. In comparison to all other castles Windsor is the only place that is still occupied by the royal family.
It is actually quite funny if you think about it, poor Queen Elizabeth II has to live alongside many ghosts and ghouls and wait for it… most of them are family.
Built by William the Conqueror, Windsor castle is 1000 years old. That is older than all other castles on our list.
Anne Boleyn’s ghosts whose main “residence” is at the Tower of London can also be seen in Windsor castle. Her ghostly figure was recorded gazing through the window of Dean’s Cloister. She is described looking sad and weeping from time to time.
Her ex-husband Henry VIII is also seen at Windsor castle, pacing through the corridor and occasionally screaming in anger.
Queen Elizabeth I appears in Windsor castle when her country is in need. Mad King George III claimed he once saw a ghostly figure, dressed in black garments. She said her name was Elizabeth and according to her she was “married to England”. George VI the father of the present Queen is said to have seen the phantom of Elizabeth I during the beginning of the Second World War when she appeared to him on eight consecutive nights.
In 1936 Edward VIII ordered Windsor Castle to be modified. The legend has it that the spirit of Queen Victoria wasn’t “too keen” on her grandson’s ideas. When the garden workers were ordered to remove a set of small trees a spectral woman appeared and sprang toward them moaning and weeping loudly. They were convinced it was Queen Victoria in her spiritual form.
Most of English castles seem to have at least some royal ghosts inhabiting them. However, Windsor ghosts are more concerned about their country than they are about their death.
I wonder, does Elizabeth I has any thoughts about the whole BREXIT campaign?
Creepiness: 5/10. Ghosts with England’s interests at heart don’t scare me.
Location: Windsor, Windsor and Maidenhead SL4 1NJ
Ghosts of Highgate Cemetery
Opened in 1839 the main purpose of the Highgate cemetery was to cope with the increasing number of burials. The cemetery was divided into two parts, 2 acres for dissidents and 15 acres for the burials of the church of England.
Amusingly, after a while the cemetery became popular with people who had no deceased relatives. The gothic tombs were very fashionable during the Victorian times; thus the early southern part of the cemetery is uniquely spectacular. At some point “monuments of death” became more and more ambitious and wealthy families were doing their best to outdo the neighbouring necropolises.
Currently the cemetery is a Designated Grade I listed English Heritage site. It has more than 170’000 people buried and more than 53’000 graves. Through the time the cemetery became a truly impressive nature reserve with numerous types of wild flowers, trees and hedges.
The admission to the cemetery is strictly limited. Hence, if you wish to tour the older section you will need to find a registered guide and book a tour in advance thorough the Highgate Cemetery website.
All the ghost stories at the Highgate Cemetery start with the cemetery becoming abandoned during the World War II. That’s when various cults started holding meetings at the cemetery and when the most famous spook of the cemetery appeared.
The Highgate Vampire is a 7 foot-tall phantom wearing black drape coat and a high top hat. He has hypnotic glowing red eyes and he seems to vanish into thin air. There were 12 documented encounters of “the vampire” since he first appeared in 1960’s.
The most recent encounter of Highgate Vampire happened in the 90’s. A man whose car broke down next to the cemetery gate described him as a very tall floating figure with red eyes. The man was stunned when the ghoul floated moving from grave to grave, stopped, turned around and looked straight at him.
The second ghosts that was seen a couple of times at the cemetery looks like an insane old woman. The story has it she has killed by her own child. This ghost thinks she is still alive as she races through the graveyard looking at different tombstones and asking people about her dead daughter.
The man who came face to face with the woman said she comes towards him asking him if he knew where her sweet daughter was. He didn’t understand she was a ghost until she quickly floated away and disappeared into thin air. The man said he felt a breeze of cold air as she approached.
Another mysterious figure seems to appear not far from the cemetery visitors. This dark figure stands still staring into the void. The people who saw the figure said that the figure is as still as the mannequin. The brave ones tried to approach the figure, but it disappears immediately and in seconds reappears about 10 yards away. Still staring into oblivion.
Some recent visitors reported seeing a nun in the cemetery. They asked the guard about it, but apparently no nuns visited the cemetery this day. The nun was wearing a Victorian outfit and walking through the graves as if she was looking for something.
Lastly, just a few years back a man reported an attack on him, but what he described didn’t make any sense.
He said that the black figure jumped over Highgate cemetery fence straight at him. He covered his face and head with his arms, but nothing touched him. The man said that the figure had pointy ears and glowing red eyes and a large nose. Some people believe that it was Spring-Heeled Jack himself!
These are the most renowned ghosts of the cemetery, but there are more and it seems that ghost stories at this graveyard are popping up like mushrooms after the rain.
I don’t know if that’s the overall atmosphere of a cemetery or if the place genuinely has ghosts. No matter the truth, if you are looking for thrills and would like to experience real ghost chills, Highgate cemetery is one of your best bets in London.
Creepiness: 10/10. Not a place to visit at night.
Location: Swain’s Ln, London N6 6PJ
Ghosts on the Streets of London
Finally, we are ready to dig a little deeper into London’s sinister history.
If you are faint-hearted don’t continue, as I am about to uncover London’s most gruesome murder scenes and nerve-wrecking life stories.
50 Berkeley Square – The most haunted house in London
Long before the house on 50 Berkeley Square inspired ghost tours and ghost books, it inspired fear.
The story of number 50 Berkeley Square starts with it being occupied by Mr. Myers in 1859. Myers was the son of a politician although he didn’t follow his father’s political footsteps. People who knew Myers said he was eccentric and some even called him a lunatic.
Myers have bought 50 Berkeley Square when he got engaged. He made every preparation to make the house suitable for a young woman and married life. He ordered new china, carpets and pictures – everything.
Nonetheless, a few days before the wedding day the lady he was suppose to marry threw him over and married another man.
Myers was devastated. Consumed by grief he locked himself in the room on the top floor and literally spent all his life there. He only came out at night.
Nowadays, people still report seeing a flickering candlelight in the windows of 50 Berkeley Square.
Myers did not die in pain, but his grief was so tragic that it charged the house with very strong physical energy. One magazine wrote: “When touched, the walls are found saturated with electric horror”.
Myers did leave the house in decay, but he wasn’t a ghost and he didn’t experience ghosts. When he died his body was found still dressed in his wedding suit. The real ghostly events started happening after Myers departure when the house was sold to a man with two teenage daughters.
One of the girl’s fiancé was due to visit the house and the maid was sent upstairs to prepare his room. All of the sudden, everyone heard loud noise.
The servants rushed to the room only to find the maid collapsed on the floor screaming: “Don’t let it touch me”. The girl was soon sent to the hospital, but unfortunately she died before she could explain what she saw in the room.
Indifferent to what has happened, the men decided to sleep in the room. He headed over to the room and locked the door behind him. In 30 minutes everyone from in the house heard terrifying screams followed by a gunshot. When the door was hacked the noble man was found dead on the floor with his face twisted in terror.
50 Berkeley Square continued to terrify people from the end of the 19th century throughout the beginning of the 20th century until 50 years ago Maggs Bros, the Antique Booksellers decided to move in to the premises.
Some of the Maggs Bros employees have reported eerie sensation when working in the shop, nonetheless the general manager of the shop denied any ghostly events happening.
Interestingly, in the beginning of 2016 Maggs Bros have relocated to a more compact location at 46 Curzon Street.
Is the shop not doing well, or is the terrifying ghost back?
Location: 50 Berkeley Square, London W1J 5BA
Bleeding Heart Yard and Lady Elizabeth Hatton
Lady Elizabeth Hatton was the second wife of Sir William Hatton. The legend says that the lady was very well known for her beauty and wealth.
The lady held many balls and she loved to dance the night away. Until one evening on the 26 of January 1626 a man appeared in the ballroom. He walked through the doors and proceeded straight to Lady Elizabeth inviting her to dance the circuit of the room. Sometimes the man is described as a Spanish Ambassador.
The couple finished their circuit and exited the ballroom through the doors straight into the garden.
The whole situation caused quite a stir and everyone waited for the couple to return. Nonetheless, Lady Elizabeth Hatton was lost to the public until the next morning when she was discovered dead in the cobbled courtyard of the Hatton House. She was “torn limb from limb, but with her heart still pumping blood.”
According to the legend, you can still find the ghost of Lady Elizabeth Hatton, dancing the night away on the 26th of January each year. Some people report seeing her body at night next to the tavern called “The Bleeding Heart”.
Location: Bleeding Heart Yard, London EC1N 8SJ
Whitechapel and ghosts of Jack the Ripper victims
During the end of 19th century London experienced an influx of immigrants from Ireland, Russia as well as other parts of Eastern Europe. The city became overcrowded and the living conditions worsened. This is when the London’s economic underclass developed. Prostitution, alcohol abuse, robbery and violence were very common those days and that’s when the “Whitechapel murders” began.
Jack the Ripper is the most renowned serial killer in the history of London. He is also known as “the Whitechapel Murdered” and “the Leather Apron”.
Although, there have been 11 murders stretched from 1888 to 1891 only five of them are considered to be the works of Jack the Ripper. Those five murders are also known as the “canonical five”. All of them had same gruesome features of the Ripper’s signature: deep throat slashes, abdominal genital-area and face mutilations and the removal of internal organs.
The canonical five Jack the Ripper victims are: Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly.
All of the females Jack the Ripper slaughtered were prostitutes working in the slums of Whitechapel. They were killed in different locations around the area.
Ever since the first murder there have been reports of people seeing ghosts of Jack the Rippers victims.
Mary Ann Nichols was killed at the Bucks Row (now Durward Street). There are a lot of stories of how her ghostly body can be found lying on the ground as it was discovered at the anniversary of her death. You won’t miss it as according to the witnesses her spectral body is surrounded by “unearthly glowing aura”.
Poor Annie Chapman, who I already wrote about can also be seen in a corporeal form walking down Hanbury Street. A man once reported seeing an attack on a woman early in the morning on the 8th of September, as he rushed to help her both figures of the victim and the attacker disappeared.
According to Londoners who live close by Berner Street on the night of the 30th September each year they can hear the screams of Elizabeth Stride, Jack the Ripper’s third victim, as she struggles to nowadays trying to escape her murder over and over again.
Catherine Eddowes body was found at the Miter Square. Some night visitors of the square have reported seeing her body lying on the ground where it was first discovered.
Lastly, Mary Jane Kelly, the fifth victim of Jack the Ripper was the prettiest and the youngest of them all. Her corpse’s mutilation was by far the most extensive one. The tale has it that a ghost was haunting the room of her murder until her body was laid to rest in St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cemetery on Langthorne Road, Leytonstone E11.
Some people believe that tormented by his horrible crimes Jack the Ripper committed a suicide on the New Years Eve of December 1888 by jumping of Westminster Bridge into the River Thames. This is where numerous witnesses reported seeing a ghostly figure rushing over the side of the bridge at the stroke of midnight.
Obviously these are not the only ghosts haunting London and its suburb, but they are by far the most famous and renowned ones.
Recently a Jack the Ripper museum opened in London that also organises free Jack the Ripper tours. You can book a tour by visiting their official website: http://www.jacktherippermuseum.com/
As you may have heard on the 10th of June 2016 a movie came out called “The Conjuring 2” which features a story of Enfield Poltergeist. It’s a story about a haunted council house in the London Borough of Enfield. If you like horror movies you might as well decide to watch it, however, it’s nothing extremely special.
Although, extensively covered by media, the Enfield Poltergeist was a prank. Two sisters who according to the story were both possessed by the poltergeist have admitted it to the camera that they have faked the incidents and that’s when all the reports came to an end.
Stuart Chase once said:
“For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible.”
Believer or not a good story always makes a good visiting place, so I encourage you to investigate the haunted London places and decide for yourself if any of the stories above make sense.