A s we approach Halloween, tales of spooky goings on in the capital inevitably increase. Many of these stories refer to ghosts of people who have links to London. Whilst the existence of ghosts is debated, there are often very real links between historic places and the spirits that have been seen there.
The Viaduct Tavern, 126 Newgate St, London EC1A 7AA
The Viaduct Tavern is a Grade II Listed pub first built in 1874. Over the years, people have claimed that the pub is haunted. In 1999, builders reported that a roll of carpet rose into the air before falling back down to the ground with a thud. A landlord has also reported lights going out, doors slamming, and hearing voices.
Ghostly goings on have been focused in the cellars, which supposedly contain cells from a debtor prison demolished in the mid-1800s. Documentary evidence suggests that the debtors prison was completely demolished and all built material associated with it was removed. However, supernatural events mean that many people fancy the ghosts to be associated with the prison.
Others suggest that they could be the ghosts of people executed at Newgate Prison, formerly located to the south of the pub. Over 1,000 people were executed between 1790 and 1902, but the prison was first commissioned in the 12th century and was not demolished until 1902, so the total number of executions is likely higher.
Hanbury Street and Dunward Street, Whitechapel
People have reported seeing a headless ghost and hearing the re-enactment of a murder at 29 Hanbury Street, within the Fournier Street Conservation Area. These hauntings, which generally take place in Autumn, have been attributed to Annie Chapman, Jack the Ripper’s second victim, who was murdered in September 1888. Whilst there were deep lacerations across her throat, she was not decapitated by the Ripper.
Durward Street is located within the Whitechapel Market Conservation Area. People have reported seeing the ghost of a woman lying in the gutter on Durward Street, in the approximate location where the body of Mary Ann Nichols, Jack the Ripper’s first victim, was found in August 1888. The ghost of a hanging boy has also been reported in a building on Durward Street, which was previously used as a boys’ boarding school.
Bruce Castle, Lordship Lane, Tottenham, N17 8NU
Bruce Castle is a Grade I Listed red brick house built around 1600. People have reported seeing the ghost of a woman staring pensively out from the castle’s balcony.
In the 1600s, the house was occupied by Lady Constantina Lucy, wife of Henry Hare, 2nd Lord Coleraine. Reports state that their marriage was not happy and that Lord Coleraine eventually locked her away at the top of the house. The relationship continued to degrade, and he subsequently locked her under the tower in a small room.
Lady Constantina, likely unable to see another way out of her predicament, threw herself from the balcony with her son, killing both of them. Many believe that the ghost seen looking out from the castle balcony is Lady Constantina.
Hampton Court Palace
Construction first started on Hampton Court Palace, a Grade I Listed building, in 1514 when the property was under the ownership of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey. When Wolsey fell from grace in 1529, he subsequently gifted the palace to King Henry VIII, and it quickly became one of Henry VIII’s favourite residences. With a 500-year history and links to many of Britain’s most famous historical figures, it is unsurprising that there have been many ghost stories linked to the palace over the years.
A white ghost carrying a light has been seen at Silverstick Stairs and is believed to be the ghost of Jane Seymour, Henry VIII’s third wife. The stairs where the spirit has been seen used to lead up to the room where Jane Seymour died in October 1537.
Hampton Court Palace was also where Henry VIII first learnt about the adultery of his fifth wife, the 19-year-old Catherine Howard. Though Catherine was beheaded at the Tower of London in 1542 and, therefore, did not die at Hampton Court, when she was arrested at the palace, she broke free from her guards and ran along the Haunted Gallery, screaming out to Henry for his mercy. She never saw Henry and was dragged away to the tower for her execution. However, people claim that her ghost still runs through the Haunted Gallery, screaming loudly.
Writer: Sophie Bell, Fuller Long
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