London is well known as one of the most haunted cities in the world, and what with our amazing long, varied and sometimes very dark history, it’s no wonder…
I recently purchased Bizarre London, by David Long – a book full to the brim of the capital’s secrets and surprises… and I quickly became engrossed in the Ghostly London section.
Here are a few spooky extracts from this brilliant book, which name a few of London’s most haunted pubs.
But I warn you, do not read at bedtime…
The Rising Sun, Cloth Fair, EC1
This is one of several pubs close to Bart’s Hospital that are said to have been popular with the area’s ‘resurrection men’ or grave robbers. The ghost at the lovely Rising Sun nevertheless sounds like more of a peeping tom than a bodysnatcher. On more than one occasion, it reportedly attempted to remove the bedclothes of two barmaids who lived there during the 1980s, and, more recently, another female member of staff felt an ice-cold hand run down her back while she was taking a shower. Nothing has ever been seen, but footsteps have been heard in the empty bar.
Flask Tavern, Highgate West Hill, N6
An apparition of a young lady has been seen entering and leaving the pub, and is thought to be the ghost of a barmaid who committed suicide on the premises. (More unusual perhaps is the chicken that is said to haunt nearby Pond Square, possibly the very chicken the philosopher Francis Bacon was stuffing with snow in 1626 – to test its value as a preservative – when he caught a chill and died.)
The Bow Bells, Bow Road, E3
Made visible by a gaudy orange frontage, this East End pub has a ghost that is said to haunt the ladies’ loo. An attempt was made to flush it out in 1974, despite the fact that reports of ghosts are usually good for business; but during the exorcism, the loo door flew open with such force that the glass was shattered and the proceedings brought to a halt.
The Spaniards Inn, Spaniards Road, NW3
The car park is said to be haunted by a horse, and with no credible justification this is said to be Dick Turpin’s famous Black Bess. More believable, perhaps, are reports of ‘Black Dick’, a seedy moneylender who was knocked down and killed by a coach outside. His ghost is said occasionally to trouble drinkers in the bar by tugging at their clothes.
The Grenadier in Wilton Row, Belgrave Square
It is believed by many to be haunted by the ghost of a young guards officer who was caught cheating at cards and summarily flogged to death by his fellow subalterns.
‘Although the year in which this occurred is not known, the month when it happened is thought to have been September, as this is when the pub experiences an onslaught of supernatural activity.
A solemn, silent spectre has been seen moving slowly across the low-ceilinged rooms.
Objects either disappear or else are mysteriously moved overnight. Unseen hands rattle tables and chairs, and a strange, icy chill has been known to hang in the air, sometimes for days on end. Footsteps have been heard pacing anxiously around empty rooms, whilst every so often a low sighing moan has been heard emanating from the depths of the cellar.’ – London Ghost Tour
Extracts taken from Bizarre London.