Steeped in history, the nation’s capital is home to stunning architecture, gruesome tales and supposed ghost sightings. With Halloween and the long winter nights approaching, this will only add to the spooky atmosphere. So where are the scariest, most haunted places in London?
The Tower of London
As a famous prison from 1100-1952 and the setting for a number of executions, it comes as no surprise that The Tower of London is at the top of the list of the most haunted places in the city. It is supposedly still home to the ghosts of Anne Boleyn, Guy Fawkes and Henry VI, and let’s not forget how ‘The Bloody Tower’ got its name. After supposedly being imprisoned in the tower by their uncle, the future Richard III, in 1483 12-year-old Edward V and his younger brother Richard disappeared, leading to rumours of their murder.
Also in the same area is the Old Operating Theatre Museum, where operations were carried out before the use of anaesthetic. Brave enough to stare danger in the face? Then grab a friend, partner or family member and head on the London Bridge Ghost Walking Tour for Two. Graveyards, secret alehouses and bear baiting pits are just some of the things you’ll see during the 2-hour guided walk, which costs £28.
Madame Tussauds London
Surrounded by celebrity waxworks in the dungeons of central London, Madame Tussauds is the perfect location for mysterious activity to occur. And if that's not enough to spook you, this Halloween will see several notorious murders brought back to life in a theatrical pop-up, Tales from The Chamber. From 19 October - 3 November, visitors can return to the location of the original Chamber of Horrors to hear about four true murder stories and come face-to-face with some of the murderer's original possessions. This includes the pram 24-year-old Mary Eleanor Pearcey used to transport the bodies of her lover’s wife and 18-month-old baby after she murdered them in 1890.
The Ten Bells
While it’s now a great place to go for craft beer, live music and quiz nights, the Spitalfields pub has a much more sinister history. The Ten Bells went by the name of The Jack the Ripper between 1976 and 1988, owing to its links to two of the famous serial killer’s victims, Annie Chapman and Mary Kelly. If that’s not enough reason to fear ghost sightings, staff also claimed to see a man in Victorian clothing walk the halls of the pub in the 1990s. So if you’re looking for a fright with your drink, The Ten Bells is the place to be!
Hampton Court Palace
Another popular landmark not for the faint-hearted is Hampton Court Palace. It is thought to be home to a number of spirits, including two of Henry VIII’s wives: Jane Seymour who died after giving birth in 1537, and Catherine Howard who was executed for adultery in 1542. There have been sightings of Jane on the Silverstick Stairs, while Catherine has been seen floating down the gallery dressed in white.
But they aren’t alone. Sybil Penn, or The Lady in Grey, was servant to four Tudor monarchs, and her ghost is also reported to lurk in the area. Although she died in 1562, the sightings of a grey lady began after her tomb was disturbed during the church renovation in 1829.
With over 1000 years of history, we would expect Westminster Abbey to be a perfect location to find some supernatural activity, especially considering it is the burial place of more than 3300 people, including 17 monarchs. The gothic architecture of the major London tourist attraction, formerly known as Collegiate Church of St. Peter, sets the scene for some ghostly activity after dark. Tourists have claimed to see the ghost of monk John Bradshaw, also known as Father of Benedictus, who is said to have haunted the area since around 1900. Often sighted around the cloisters, the ghost is supposedly a friendly one, engaging in conversations with some tourists. He is joined by a soldier who appears near the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, which is a World War One memorial.
READ: Top 10 museums in London
Greenwich Foot Tunnel
If being trapped under the water of the River Thames and surrounded by leaking, oppressive walls wasn't enough to put you off, the Greenwich foot tunnel is also said to be haunted. Opened in 1902, the 370m dimly lit tunnel connects Greenwich to the Isle of Dogs, and
pedestrians have reported hearing footsteps echo around them late at night despite being alone. Some believe the footsteps belong to a Victorian man and woman who haunt the tunnel, while others say they have seen a young girl who communicates with ghost hunters. Either way, we'd rather stick to the more populated overground!
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane is known as London’s most haunted theatre, and is home to The Man in Grey. According to tradition, his presence is associated with successful theatre productions including The Dancing Years and Miss Saigon. So maybe a visit by this ghost is not one to be feared! The theatre is also home to the ghost of Joseph Grimaldi who often performed as a white-faced clown before he died in 1837
The beautiful stretch of greenery has a more sinister atmosphere when the sun sets, with several ghosts calling Hampstead Heath home. Highwaymen who targeted wealthy travellers were often hung on the trees in the park, one of which was Claude Duval who was sentenced to death in 1670 after he was found guilty of six robberies.
The nearby pub The Spaniard’s Inn is also thought to be home to the ghost of well-known highwayman Dick Turpin. The horse thief and murderer's father was the pub's landlord in the 18th century and it was where Dick plotted a number of his crimes. After being executed in 1739, it has been rumoured that his ghost roams the upstairs of the pub, while his faithful horse Black Bess haunts the car park.
50 Berkeley Square
The tall brick house in Mayfair has served as the home of British Prime Minister George Canning, Viscount Bearsted and later taken over by gas company BP. But it became known as the most haunted house in London in the 1990s for a number of reasons. The main culprit for its reputation is Mr. Meyers who became a recluse after being rejected by his fiancé, and ultimately stayed in the black building until he died in 1874. His ghost is joined by a young woman who, after being abused by her uncle, committed suicide by throwing herself from the top floor. And unlike many other ghosts in London, these are not very friendly - a maid who stayed in the attic for one night was so distressed the next day that she died in an asylum.
The ghost of a woman has been seen in the windows of the 16th century property, which was originally known as ‘Lordship House' but is now a museum. The woman is believed to be Constantia Lucy whose husband Henry Hare locked her in a room at the top of the house. While Constantia was said to have committed suicide by jumping off the balcony in the seventeenth century, there is no record of her death or burial in All Hallow Church’s parish registers. On dark November nights, you might catch a glimpse of her silhouette staring out the window. Creepy!
So look twice when you go past some famous landmarks, theatres and pubs in London, there may be more to them than it seems.