Take a Walk on the Dark Side
In a city as ancient as London, it's no surprise that ghostly characters are said to lurk in its historic houses, pubs, and cemeteries. This chilling collection of spooky spots lifts the lid on London's dark side. Are you brave enough to explore these haunted highlights this Halloween?
Explore Hackney's Most Haunted House
Built in 1535 by Sir Ralph Sadleir, a courtier of Henry VIII, Sutton House and Breaker's Yard on Homerton High Street is east London's oldest house. It's been home to merchants, Huguenot silk weavers, and Edwardian clergymen, and after falling into disrepair in the 1980s was occupied by squatters who held gigs and parties in the barn. Several ghosts have been spotted in the oak-paneled rooms including the White Lady, a former resident who haunts the nursery where her twins died in infancy. Wailing dogs have also been heard in the empty house at night. Calm the nerves with a soothing cup of tea and a slice of cake in the Georgian tearoom.
Lift the Curtain on Ghosts in the West End
Founded in 1663, the Theatre Royal on Drury Lane is London's oldest working theatre. It has been visited by all English Kings and Queens since Charles II took to the throne in 1660, and the current building has stood on the site since 1812. It's said that a number of theatrical stars haunt the wings including the pantomime clown, Joseph Grimaldi, whose painted head has been seen floating backstage, and Dan Leno, who has been known to spook actors waiting in the sidelines. The Man in Grey is the theatre's most famous ghost and has been spotted by actors, staff and audience members lurking around the Upper Circle before disappearing behind a wall.
Seek Out Spirits in Handel's Former House
German-born baroque composer, George Frideric Handel, made London his home in 1712 and took up residence at 25 Brook Street in Mayfair from 1723 until he died at the property in 1759. Many of his best-known pieces, including the Messiah, were composed here. It was converted into a museum in 2001 and during the restoration of the building, several ghost sightings were reported. A local Catholic priest was instructed to carry out an exorcism before it opened to the public. Jimi Hendrix lived next door some 200 years later and claimed to have seen Handel's ghost in a mirror while he lived there.
Drink in a Jack the Ripper Pub
The Ten Bells in Spitalfields is a traditional east end pub that's closely linked to London's infamous serial killer, Jack the Ripper. His last known victim, Mary Kelly, drank in the pub on November 9, 1888, and her body was found brutally murdered the following day on Dorset Street. Bar workers have reported seeing an old man dressed in Victorian clothing, thought to be a previous landlord, lurking in the pub. It's now a hipster hangout that serves craft beer and gourmet bar snacks.
Tour a Gothic Cemetery
Opened in 1839, Highgate Cemetery is the final resting place of famous Londoners including Karl Marx, Douglas Adams, and George Eliot. The gothic Victorian tombs and catacombs are surrounded by trees and wildflowers and parts of the cemetery are classified as a nature reserve. Many ghostly sightings have been reported at this ancient burial ground including the Highgate Vampire, a 7-foot-tall figure dressed in a long black coat and a top hat; Spring-Heeled Jack, an impish character with pointed ears and glowing eyes; and a nun who has been seen floating over the graves.
Stroll Around an Ancient Plague Pit
In 1371 a monastery was founded on the north side of Charterhouse Square in Clerkenwell, just next to the site of a huge plague pit, said to be London's largest mass grave during the Black Death. The building was later turned into a private mansion and was bought by the 4th Duke of Norfolk in 1565 who was executed after he planned to marry Mary, Queen of Scots. On dark, quiet nights sightings have been reported of ghostly monks and a headless Duke of Norfolk with his head tucked under his arm.