Ghostly goings-on: visit London’s greatest ‘haunts’

Did you know that among the most notoriously haunted places in London are a townhouse in one of the most salubrious parts of town, a Tube station and even a Royal palace? Well, maybe you shouldn’t be surprised because, thanks to its many centuries of history (some of it glorious; others of it dark, grisly and downright bloodthirsty), the UK capital is a prime destination for eventful spectral goings on in Britain…

Tower terror!

Hardly surprising the capital’s chief haunted attraction is the fortification that for almost a millennium served not just as a Royal palace and jewel depository, but a prison and torture and execution site. While the most famous of the unfortunate wretches to meet their maker at the Tower of London include King Henry VIII’s notorious second queen Anne Boleyn, King Henry VI, the two Royal ‘princes in the Tower’ and the hapless Lady Jane Grey of Tudor times, there isn’t a consensus their ghosts can be seen on the site; however, many attest to having heard whispered voices about the place and having seen unnerving apparitions!

London

Fearful Farringdon!

A very easy haunted place to get to this one (just pop off a Central or Hammersmith and City Line Tube train at the right stop), Farringdon Station’s ghostly reputation derives from the fact a young girl’s screams can apparently be heard every night as the final train pulls out of the platform. They’re said to belong to poor Anne Naylor, a victim of murder while she was trapped in a mid-18th Century workhouse – her corpse was supposedly dumped on the site of the modern day station.

Berkeley Square? Only for the hearty!

Although not singled out for apparition sightings in recent times, 50 Berkeley Square is an address that’s nonetheless synonymous with grisly terror and terrible ghost-related incidents going back through its history. Located in one of London’s most traditionally upmarket and plush areas it may be, but this elegant old townhouse has been rocked by a long chain of – seemingly – unconnected tragic events. To start with, it’s been said the ghost of a young woman haunts the property’s attic as a result of it being the site of a suicide. And, following this, several subsequent deaths became associated with the phantom. The first occurred when a later owner of the house retired to the attic after being jilted at the altar; having locked the door behind him, he was eventually found there dead, dressed still in his wedding day suit.

Later, when the house was under new ownership, a maid was carted off to an asylum following a screaming fit in the attic, dying just a day later, then shortly afterwards a man slept in the attic; more screaming and a gunshot was heard and the man was discovered dead, his face set in terror – he was pronounced ‘dead of fright’. Unfortunately, the house remains privately owned so visitors can’t take a look inside – not least the attic – but you can certainly espy the property from outside, especially if you’re staying nearby in Central London, say at The Marble Arch by Montcalm London hotel.

Ripper-ing yarns?

Thanks to the murderously grisly exploits of Victorian serial killer Jack the Ripper, East London’s Whitechapel district is supposed to an absolute hotbed of paranormal activity. Never unmasked (and so never caught), the legendary villain pulled off a spate of brutal slayings in the area during the year 1888 and the murder scenes themselves are said to be haunted by the tragic victims’ souls. Visit Durward Street for the chance to encounter Mary Ann Nichols, Hanbury Street for Annie Chapman’s headless spirit, Mitre Square for Catherine Eddow and Berner Street for the late lamented Lizzie Stride – if you dare!

Highgate’s cemetery spirits!

Being the major world city it is, London possesses its fair share of famous resting places, but of all its several centuries-old cemeteries, the notorious one in Highgate is where to head for ghostly associations. Indeed, of all potential spirit sightings in the UK capital, surely the most dramatic awaits you at Highgate Cemetery, as down the years people have claimed to have seen a seven-foot-tall figure in a top hat with glowing red eyes passing between the graves – the latest such sighting having come as recently as the 1990s. Other spectres encountered are said to include, tragically, that of an old woman who isn’t aware she’s passed away, asking whether visitors have seen her daughter.

Ghouls at Hampton Court?

Although she may not be definitely said to haunt the Tower, if you pop out of London a short way to the glorious Hampton Court Palace, you may come across Anne Boleyn here one night. Or perhaps you’ll encounter the doomed soul of Henry VIII’s other executed consort, Catherine Howard? The Tudor- and Restoration-era palace’s chief ghost, however, is said to be that of Sibell Penn, or the ‘Lady in Grey’, a nurse to Henry’s first heir to the throne, the future King Edward VI. She may have passed in the mid-16th Century but it’s believed, following her remains being disturbed four centuries later, her spirit was released. Why? Because visitors soon claimed to hear spinning coming from behind a wall – and when renovation work took place and the wall was removed, a room in which a spinning wheel stood was discovered behind it. Spooky to say the least!

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