Haunted Tales in London Walk

 

On Sunday 5th November, eight of us met at Westminster station at 10.30am for a Haunted / Paranormal Tales walk. It was a beautiful sunny day, so we had to imagine misty mornings on the Thames and grimy streets from days gone by...  

Across the road and down to the landing pier, we learned of phantom boats and sightings of a ghostly figure, believed to be Jack the Ripper, seen leaping to his death from the bridge as the clock strikes midnight and the old year passes in to the new.  We then moved along to the original Scotland Yard buildings to hear about the headless woman whose body was found when the buildings were being constructed and whose ghost used to be seen roaming the old Black Museum. 

At Banqueting House we saw the bricked-up window from which Charles I had stepped out onto a scaffold to be beheaded in1649, having just heard about the 'Touching for the King's Evil' ceremony that was performed in the Hall by multiple monarchs. The King supposedly possessed the divine hereditary right to serve his people by touching them to cure scrofula. I wonder if Charles III knows about it. 

Horseguards, across the road, was the subject of a prophetic dream that the Duke of Portland had in 1901: Edward VIIs coronation coach got stuck under the arch, bringing the entire procession to an embarrassing halt. The dream was so vivid that the Duke measured the coach and the arch and discovered that the ground below the arch had been raised since Queen Victoria's coronation.

A few buildings along to Admiralty House, where Martha Ray lived in the 18th century, as the mistress of the Earl of Sandwich, until she was shot dead by a spurned lover. Winston Churchill and Harold Macmillan both stated that they saw her ghost. In 1969, Denis Healey discussed Martha‚Äôs ghost being seen in the living quarters and said that his children accepted her as part of the household.
 
Back on the Embankment, the tales turned to a strange tapping noise that emanated from deep within the walls of the National Liberal Club in the 1890s. The Secretary of the Club eventually discovered that the noise only occurred when a particular German servant girl was present and, although convinced that she was not consciously responsible for the sounds, he decided to dismiss her.  The noises ceased immediately.
 
We then moved on to Gordon's Wine Bar where staff have frequently had the unnerving impression that something is watching them from the darkness and many customers have complained of an unseen hand tapping them on the shoulder as they sit enjoying a glass of wine. 
 
Round the corner, in Buckingham Street, we didn't see the happy ghost of a female, thought to have been one of the models in the 'sensuous nudes' painted by William Etty who lived at number 14. Nor did we see the ghost of Samuel Pepys who often peers from the first floor windows at his old house next door.  Thankfully we didn't hear the screams of 'Poor Jenny' either; she was a Victorian prostitute who was strangled by one of her clients and left to die under the Adelphi Arches.  
 
Cutting through to the Strand, we arrived at Coutts Bank where, in 1993, the Directors arranged for a medium to deal with a ghost that was haunting staff in the computer room, had appeared headless before the receptionist and turned lights on and off.  The medium claimed to make contact with the ghost of Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk, who was executed in 1572; he then successfully persuaded the spirit to depart.  All paranormal activity stopped after that. 
 
After navigating a long, narrow alleyway, we arrived in Theatreland to hear of multiple incidents at The Coliseum, The Duke of York, The Albery (now The Noel Coward) and The Garrick, including a First World War soldier haunting The Coliseum for 10 years and a possessed bolero jacket that attempted to strangle any actress who wore it. 
 
With the walk at an end, six of us headed to The Marquis pub for Sunday Lunch. One of the beers on tap was 'Poltergeist'. Coincidence? 

 

Jill S.   7th November 2023