Readers Digest
Magazine subscription Podcast
HomeLifestyleTravelPlaces To Visit

10 Most haunted places in London

10 Most haunted places in London

Ghostly individuals prowl the city that proved gold-paved for some but the downfall of others. Here are stories of the ten most haunted places in London that will give you goosebumps

London is a city steeped in history but holds more than its fair share of spectral secrets. From the ancient streets to illustrious theatres, the capital is no stranger to ghostly apparitions that continue to bewilder and intrigue locals and visitors alike. Here are ten eerie legends that seeped into the very fabric of London's most iconic landmarks, casting an ethereal spell over the city.

Bank of England

10 Most haunted places in London - The old Stock Exchange building with a partial view of the Bank of England on the leftCredit: Manel Vinuesa

The Bank’s nickname, “The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street,” originated with a Gillray cartoon published in 1797. Later, it was applied to a real person—Sarah Whitehead. Her brother Philip, a disgruntled former employee of the Bank, was found guilty of forgery in 1811 and executed.

Sarah became unhinged by the shock, and appeared at the Bank every day for the next 25 years, asking for her brother. When she died, she was buried in the old churchyard that later became part of the Bank’s gardens. Her ghost has been reported in the area on several occasions.

Berkeley Square

A bedroom of number 50 has reputedly been haunted for more than a century by a peculiarly repulsive ghost, described as a shapeless, slithering mass. Once, a young army officer volunteered to spend a night in the room. Only if he rang twice was anyone to come to his assistance. The family waited apprehensively and, on the stroke of midnight, the bell rang once.

"A bedroom of number 50 has reputedly been haunted for more than a century by a peculiarly repulsive ghost"

After a couple of minutes, the bell rang a second time so wildly that the family raced for the stairs, but before they could reach the bedroom, a shot rang out. The young man had killed himself from the horror of what he had seen.

Covent Garden

Comedian Dan Leno is said to haunt the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, which also has its “Man in Grey”. Theatregoers have often reported seeing the ghost of an unknown man, either sitting in the upper circle or walking from one side of the theatre to the other—but only at matinées.

He is tall, grey-haired and distinguished, and his clothes suggest that in life he was a mid-18th-century gentleman of fashion. Apparently, his judgment is faultless, and his appearance at a play is a sure sign that it will be a success.

The Adelphi, in the Strand, is visited by a phantom thought to be William Terriss, who was stabbed at the stage door in 1907. He also appears at Covent Garden tube station in an Edwardian dress.

Dean Street

The shadowy figure of a woman has been seen drifting through the Gargoyle Club, and she leaves behind a powerful scent of gardenias. The ghost is thought to be that of Charles II’s favourite mistress, the orange seller turned actress Nell Gwyn, who once lived there.

"The ghost is thought to be that of Charles II’s favourite mistress, the orange seller turned actress Nell Gwyn"

Fanny Kelly, the founder of Miss Kelly’s Theatre and Dramatic School in 1840—which became the Old Royalty Theatre in Dean Street—haunted the place for more than 50 years after her death in 1882.

One of her last appearances was in 1934, when she was seen in a box, eagerly watching a rehearsal—she herself had been an actress, and excelled in melodrama. Property developers drove her out when they built offices on the site.

Westminster Abbey

10 Most haunted places in London - An inside view of Westminster Abbey with an arched roof and altarCredit: Wirestock

The abbey has several ghosts, including a murdered monk who walks the cloisters in the early evening and occasionally chats with visitors. John Bradshaw, who appears in Red Lion Square from time to time, haunts the deanery, apparently unable to find rest after signing the death warrant of Charles I. Wounded and muddy from the Flanders battlefields, an unknown soldier also puts in rare appearances.

In an old tale, when the abbey was built, about AD816, St Peter appeared to a Thames fisherman and guaranteed large catches on the condition that one-tenth would be given to the abbey’s clergy.

St James’ Place

A phantom figure whose throat is slit from ear to ear that has been seen at the palace is thought to be the ghost of a valet who was murdered by the Duke of Cumberland, son of George III. The palace, which was built by Henry VIII on the site of a leper hospital, is still used by the royal family and is not open to the public.

Kensington Palace

10 Most haunted places in London - Kensington Palace and Gardens, LondonCredit: Pat_Hastings

The ghost of George II has often been reported gazing anxiously out of a window of Kensington Palace towards the weather vane. During his last illness, he was worried by the non-arrival of despatches from his beloved Hanover, and constantly asked the direction of the wind.

Eaton Square

On June 22, 1893, Lady Tryon was throwing a cocktail party in her house in Eaton Square when the drawing-room door opened and her husband, Admiral Sir George Tryon, strode in. He spoke to no one but walked purposefully across the room and out of a door at the other end. Curiously, Lady Tryon did not see him, but those among her guests who did were astonished, because they knew, or thought they knew, that he could not be in London.

"The admiral had given a misjudged order and the great battleship had collided with HMS Camperdown"

In fact, the Admiral was on his ship, HMS Victoria, the flagship of the Mediterranean Squadron, off the coast of Syria. He had given a misjudged order and the great battleship had collided with HMS Camperdown, keeled over and gone down with the loss of all hands. Sir George’s body was never found. His wife and friends did not learn of his death until several days later.

Victoria and Albert Museum

The Great Bed of Ware, which is kept in the museum, is said to be haunted by its maker, Jonas Fosbrooke, a carpenter from Ware in Hertfordshire. He made the mammoth bed in 1463 for Edward IV.

When the king’s 13-year-old son and heir disappeared in 1483, probably murdered, the bed was sold and eventually came into the ownership of a succession of Ware innkeepers, who used it during local festivals when the town was crowded. Once, in the 17th century, 12 married couples are alleged to have slept in it together.

From beyond the grave, Jonas Fosbrooke was not at all happy about his great bed’s fall in status, and his ghost was reputed to pinch and scratch anyone who slept in it because his gift was not being used by royalty.

Haymarket

Former actor-manager JB Buckstone occasionally appears at the Haymarket Theatre, and his ghost is welcome because it is said to bring good luck. He seems to prefer the dressing rooms, but he was seen on stage by a stage manager in 1964. The figure, in 19th-century clothes, was not, however, visible to the audience.

Banner credit: ratpack223

Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter

 

*This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.

This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you. Read our disclaimer

Loading up next...
Stories by email|Subscription
Readers Digest

Launched in 1922, Reader's Digest has built 100 years of trust with a loyal audience and has become the largest circulating magazine in the world

Readers Digest
Reader’s Digest is a member of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (which regulates the UK’s magazine and newspaper industry). We abide by the Editors’ Code of Practice and are committed to upholding the highest standards of journalism. If you think that we have not met those standards, please contact 0203 289 0940. If we are unable to resolve your complaint, or if you would like more information about IPSO or the Editors’ Code, contact IPSO on 0300 123 2220 or visit ipso.co.uk