2,000 Years of History, Almost As Many Ghost Stories!
In a city with a rich, vibrant and fascinating history intricately woven into the fabric of two millennia, there are stories of spooky spectres, shadowy souls and appearances and apparitions that would keep the Scooby-Doo writers occupied for years.
Of course no such stories exist at the Rathbone so you’re perfectly safe booking your stay today but there are lots of famous and not-so-famous places to visit while you’re here where you can get your fill of the frightfully fiendish fables that permeate London!
Are you brave enough to read on…?
NOTE: This article is just for fun! We have no idea if ghosts exist and there is no scientific evidence to suggest they do. We also have no idea if these stories are true or not but they have been passed on as London legends for centuries; all we know is they make a great story!
The most logical place to start is at 50 Berkeley Square, a stunning Mayfair townhouse also known as ‘London’s Most Haunted House’ and there are many tales of ghoulish goings-on.
Formerly the residence of Prime Minister George Canning until 1829, it was bought by Miss Elizabeth Curzon who died in 1859. The same year, a Mr Myers (reputedly the son of an MP) bought the house and as legend has it, he was jilted by his lover and became a total recluse who slowly went mad, only active at night when he would wander the hallways. His spirit is said to remain, wandering the same hallways looking for his lover…
Another tale is that of a man who moved in with his teenage daughters. The fiancé of the elder daughter, a Captain Kentfield, visited his betrothed and when the maid was preparing his room, a series of blood-curdling screams were heard. She was found contorted on the floor muttering ‘don’t let it touch me’. She died the next day.
Unconcerned by the fate of the maid, the Captain decided to spend the night in the room. Thirty minutes after retiring for the night, similar screams were heard, followed by a gunshot. He was found dead on the floor, his face contorted in unimaginable terror and to this day is said to appear in the room where he died…
There are lots more stories about 50 Berkeley Square but most are apocryphal, fanciful tales made up by bandwagon-jumping writers of late 19th and early 20th century pulp fiction, but what about the best of the rest?
London’s Haunted Houses (and pubs and banks!)
Where? Sutton House, Homerton High Street, London E9
What? On occasion, wailing dogs (said to be those of 16th century wool merchant John Machell) can be heard in the night time hours but no-one’s ever seen a canine apparition. No man, woman or child that is… When dogs are brought to the house, they stop rigid at the foot of the stairs looking up, hackles raised, utterly transfixed by what they see. Whatever it is stays invisible to mere humans…
Where: The Grenadier Pub, Wilton Row, London SW1
What: In 1818, a soldier, a young Grenadier, was caught cheating at cards and was punished with such severity by his comrades he died. A solemn, silent spectre – affectionately named Cedric – has been seen moving slowly across the low-ceilinged rooms, as well as objects moving or disappearing, including a snug’s worth of chairs, and an icy chill that lasts for days…
Where: The Bank of England, Threadneedle Street, London EC4
What: The news of the guilt, imprisonment and subsequent hanging for fraud of a bank employee was kept from his sister who turned up one day asking for her brother. By mistake, a lowly clerk spilled the beans and every day from then, she would come to the bank dressed in a long black veil asking for her brother. Known as the Bank Nun, she was treated with respect but eventually was offered money to stay away, and she did, in life. In death, she has been known to appear before day-weary bankers on their way home up Threadneedle Street asking politely with sad eyes, ‘have you seen my brother…’
Where: The Ten Bells, Commercial Street, London E1
What? Dating from 1752, the Ten Bells was demolished in 1851 and rebuilt a few metres from the original location. There are two ghost stories associated with the pub. The first is that of Annie Chapman and Mary Jane Kelly, the second and fifth victims of Jack the Ripper. Chapman drank in the pub before her murder and Kelly used the area outside to pick up clients. Her body was found across the road and is said to wander into the pub from time to time to keep warm. Also in the 19th century, a psychic visiting the pub point-blank refused to go into a particular room, claiming there had occurred a brutal murder of a baby sometime in the past. Today’s leading Ripper expert Lindsay Siviter later found a sack containing Victorian baby clothes which had been brutally slashed with a knife and at night, the blood-curdling screams of an infant have been heard…
As we said, we have no idea if these stories are true or not and it’s not for us to speculate on the existence of ghosts, whatever you think is fine with us! Of course there’s lots more to do in London than hunt for the seemingly un-huntable so if there’s anything you need while you’re with us, our concierge and staff are happy to help you with ideas for days out, restaurants, travel and even umbrellas if it’s raining…!
So if you’re coming to London this summer, make sure you book your stay at The Rathbone now!