Eating out in London is often accompanied with plenty of spirits, but a beheaded queen, Jack the Ripper victims or a demented ghostly chicken are probably not the vodka and coke you were expecting. Here are some spooky places to eat this Halloween that’ll scare you silly, all while you enjoy a nice meal and maybe the spectre of dessert. Or Anne Boleyn.
Legend has it that South African diamond magnate Woolf Joe dined at The Savoy in 1898 along with fourteen guests. Except one cancelled at the last minute. Dinner went on with an ‘unlucky’ 13 guests, making one superstitious diner announce that death would befall the first person to leave. Joel took the gamble and a few weeks later he was shot dead in Johannesburg. Now tables of 13 are urged to dine with Kaspar, a three-foot high sculpted cat, to avert future cat-astrophes.
Strand, Covent Garden, WC2R 0EU
Relax with a pint and take in the clientele at the Ten Bells. You’re in good company, that’s probably what Jack The Ripper was doing 130 years ago as she looked for his next victims. At least two of the Ripper’s victims were last seen at The Ten Bells and it’s thought it was where he (or she) lay in wait for his prey. Last seen at the pub 25 year old Mary Kelly was found with her throat slashed, heart removed and her nose, cheeks, eyebrows and ears partly missing.84
Commercial Street, Spitalfields, E1 6LY
The Flask in Highgate is the ideal end for a walk on the heath. But it was a different kind of end for a certain Spanish barmaid who hanged herself in the pub’s cellar after her love for the publican went unrequited. Now part of the dining area, guests often report sudden drops in temperature, glasses mysteriously moving and apperitions. When it’s not the lovesick barmaid a Cavelier is also said to put in the odd appearance, crossing the room and disappearing into a pillar.
After dinner you’re only a short walk from Pond Square, which is said to be haunted by Sir Francis Bacon’s chicken…
77 Highgate West Hill, Highgate, N6 6BU
Although somewhat spuriously linked to Sir Walter Raleigh, it’s a little tudor girl who haunts The Old Queen’s Head in Islington. Staff regularly hear her steps running across the floorboards and on the occasions she appears she’s dressed in period clothes and appears to be around 8 years old. On the first Sunday of the month, presumably the spirits operate on a strict rota-basis, she is often accompanied by a middle-aged lady.
44 Essex Road, Islington, N1 8LN
Highwaymen were known to frequent and hideout at The Spaniard’s Inn back in the 18th century and a tree at the end of the road marked a spot where many of them were hanged. Presumably they then returned to their old local as ghosts, with Dick Turpin said to haunt the upstairs room. Meanwhile a highwayman’s horse, possibly Turpin’s Black Bess, is still spotted in the car park while ‘Black Dick’, a moneylender knocked down and killed by a coach just outside The Spaniards, is known to tug the sleeves of unsuspecting drinkers.
Spaniards Road, Hampstead, NW3 7JJ
The Volunteer sits on the site of a large houses dating back to the 17th century. The property, owned by the Neville famliy caught alight in 1654 and the entire family were tragially killed. However they still put in frequent appearances in the pub’s cellar, believed to be the only part of the building that remains from the original house, and Rupert Neville, repleat in breeches, stalks up and down.
245-247 Baker Street, Marylebone, NW1 6XE
All is not well in Knightsbridge. The upper floor of the pub was, at one time, used as the officers’ mess for a nearby army barracks. A young officer is known to have been caught by his comrades cheating at cards and, in order to teach him a lesson, was severely beaten. However, the beating was so severe as to kill the poor subaltan, and at The Grenadier he remains, pacing the low ceilinged rooms, smoking (whisps of smoke are still seen) and, unsuprisingly, sighing.
18 Wilton Row, Belgravia, SW1X 7NR
Long said to have been haunted by a figure standing, unsmiling, by the bar, there were few clues as to the cause of the apparition at the Old Bull and Bush in Golder’s Green. However rennovations in the 1980s revealed a human skeleton, surrounded by Victorian era surgical equipment, trapped in an old ventilation shaft. It’s not known how he got there or how he died. Interestingly there have always been suspicions that Jack The Ripper was linked to surgeon Sir Thomas Spencer Wells, who lived opposite the pub and worked in the hospital close to where the ripper operated. Could the haughty man at the bar somehow be The Ripper himself?
North End Way, Golder’s Green, NW3 7HE
The Tower of London is reputed to be one of the most haunted sites in the country and has no shortage of grim stories to tell. Sit in The Tower’s restaurant, Sargeant’s Mess, and revel in tales of Anne Bolelyn, beheaded in the tower and whose headless body patrols the walls, or the White Lady of the White Tower or Arbella Stuart or the young princes, Edward V and his brother Richard, who were held prisoner and murdered in the tower and are still seen wearing nightgowns and clutching each other in terror.
Tower of London, The Wharf, EC3N
Stood opposite the Old Bailey this Victorian gin palace is the ideal place to grab a post-work drink in the city. Although you may find unworldly powers moving your glass. The pub is known as a hub of poltergeist activity which may be down to the fact it stands on the site of a former prison (you can still see the cells in the cellar). In particular one manager reports being in the cellar when the lights went out and the door slammed shut. Try as he might the door was impossible to push open. His wife, hearing his calls, went to help and found the unlocked door swung open. Similarly two carpet-fitters found themselves the target of a prank by spooks when an entire and heavy roll of carpet lifted into the air in front of them to then crash back down onto the floor.
126 Newgate Street, Holborn, EC1A 7AA
The Langham is one of London’s grandest hotels with a great selection of bars and restaurants, but best avoid room 333, which is haunted by a Victorian doctor who murdered his newlywed wife, then himself, while on honeymoon in the room. He’s regularly seen in the room sporting a cloak and cravat. Of the 4 other ghosts said to make their presence known 2 more favour room 333, a German Prince who jumped from a 4th floor window and another ghost who enjoys tipping guests from their beds, while the corridors of the hotel are largely frequented by former guests Emperor Napoleon III, a man with a gaping face-wound and a footman in pale blue livery.
1c Portland Place, Marylebone, W1B 1JA
The Bleeding Heart Restaurant takes its name form Bleeding Heart Yard, where it’s located and, legend has it, was named to commemorates the murder of Lady Elizabeth Hatton, second wife of Sir William Hatton, the local landowners in the 17th century. Her body was discovered in 1626, “torn limb from limb, but with her heart still pumping blood”. Perhaps avoid ordering your steak bloody.
Bleeding Heart Yard, Farringdon, EC1N 8SJ