London is a city awash with hidden historical secrets – tales of heartbreak, horror and gruesome happenings that go largely unbeknown, day to day. However, this time of year we all seem to pay particular interest in London’s dark side – we’ve rounded up 10 pubs, restaurants and event spaces that will send shivers down your spine, any day of the year.
The Haunted Gallery at the Palace
Former home of Henry VIII and his 6 wives who each (bar one) suffered sorry fates, Hampton Court is undoubtedly the spookiest palace in London. It is believed that the ghost of Catherine Howard, Henry’s fifth wife, frequents the Haunted Gallery – she was dragged through the gallery, screaming after being accused of committing adultery by her husband, and ultimately was executed at the Tower of London. It has been claimed that her screams can still be heard in the middle of the night! If one ghost wasn’t spooky enough for you, perhaps knowing that the court is home to two other ghosts will achieve the fright factor.
Where: Hampton Court Palace, Surrey, KT8 9AU, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Hampton Court (0.2 miles)
A Gothic Asylum
Built in 1859, Le Gothique was originally an asylum for girls during the Crimean War but during WWII the girls were evacuated to a safe spot outside London with MI5 and MI6 stepping in to transform the building into a kind of ‘spy school’. The building lay derelict for years so it is no surprise that there are countless ghost stories associated with it; a famous tale is of a young Charlotte Jane Bennett, who was accidentally burned alive having been deliberately locked in a bathroom. Get your gothic on and take a walk through the building with Charlotte’s ghost.
Where: The Royal Victoria Patriotic Building John Archer way Wandsworth Common London SW18 3SX
Nearest station: Wandsworth Common (0.3 miles)
Said to be haunted by a lady and a little girl, the Old Queen’s Head is often said to be a location where shrill screams, slamming doors and weeping can be heard. Whilst it might look colourful and lively, who knows what lurks in the corridors…
French Restaurant Located in Bleeding Heart Yard
Urban legend has it that Bleeding Heart Yard was the location of the horrific death of Lady Elizabeth Hatton. Young and beautiful Lady Hatton had been dancing away at a ball, then was whisked away by a European Ambassador. Her body was found the following morning in the courtyard with her limbs torn off, but even worse, her heart was still pumping blood over the courtyard… True or not, there is something spooky about dining outside in the courtyard here.
Where: Hatton Garden, Bleeding Heart Yard, off Greville Street, London, EC1N 8SJ, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Farringdon (London) (0.1 miles)
Home to the Crown Jewels, and More...
Certainly one of the spookiest spots in London, The Tower of London has seen the gruesome end of several lives, and now the Tower is supposedly home to many of their ghosts. Sightings have been reported, screams have been heard – a walk through the tower is bound to give you a fright. The tower was also used as a prison for some notorious characters, the most recent (and last) prisoners being the Kray twins – infamous East London gangsters with innumerable crimes under their belts. What’s more, is that the tower is home to 6 ravens who have long been considered a bird of ill omen, though they serve to protect the crown jewels.
Where: The Tower Of London, London, EC3N 4AB, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Tower Hill (0.2 miles)
More Ghosts Than You Can Throw a Ouija Board At
Dick Turpin was allegedly born here and it’s claimed that some of his dastardly plots were also thought up within these walls, some of his weapons are also on show for punters to see. Dead dwellers said to haunt the venue are former Spanish landlord, Juan Porero, who was murdered by his brother, and an unnamed lady in white. A little more light-heartedly, The Spaniards Inn is mentioned in Dickens’ ‘The Pickwick Papers’ but regardless, it’s just a really good country pub, in London.
A Pub Haunted by Heartbreak
Our only romantic tragedy on the list is the tale of a heartbroken barmaid who hung herself in the cellar after being left by the pub owner; she is joined by a man in a Cavalier’s uniform who has also been sighted crossing the bar and disappearing into a pillar. Not a haunting but something haunting is the fact that the pub’s Committee Room is the location of one of the first ever autopsies (most likely on a stolen corpse from the local cemetery). Dine in the cellar and wait for the candles to flicker…
Greenwich Foot Tunnel
Greenwich foot tunnel would be deemed as creepy regardless of the story it holds, what with its ominous depth, length and faded white walls. And, let’s face it, tunnels have a certain creepiness to them as it is; hence the saying “I wouldn’t want to come across them in a dark alleyway.” The tunnel, which lingers beneath The Thames is dimly lit and accompanied by echoing footsteps, built in 1902 so dock workers could cross the river to work, it’s been seen as pretty darn spooktacular ever since.
Unlucky Number Thirteen
At The Savoy, 13 is a particularly unlucky number – and for good reason. One night in 1898, a South African diamond magnate named Woolf Joel dined at The Savoy at a table for 14 guests. One cancelled last minute, so they were down to 13, with one unhappy diner declaring that death would come to the first person to leave the table. Woolf must’ve not been having the best of times – or perhaps was feeling rebellious – because he was indeed the first to leave, and a few weeks later was shot in Johannesburg. Since that incident, a member of staff was available to roundup tables to fourteen but when guests felt they could not have private conversations with a member of staff present, a three foot cat sculpture, named Kaspar, was positioned at the table, napkin and all.
Pub Visited by Jack the Ripper Victims
There’s something about bells ringing in the distance that can seem particularly eery, but at The Ten Bells in Spitalfields there’s a whole lot more eeriness than you may think – it has been around since 1752 after all. The most notable pub in the history of Jack the Ripper, Annie Chapman was supposedly seen drinking there the morning of her murder, and Mary Kelly used to stand outside to attract customers. The Ten Bells remains much unchanged inside, featuring a wall of the victims’ names behind the bar. Despite its less than bright history, the pub as we know it today is one of Spitalfields’ most loved boozers, with worn wooden floors and historical features making it more than just your average pub.
Gothic Crumbling Church
A derelict church may not be the obvious choice for your wedding venue, especially when it’s called Asylum but there’s something charming about this Peckham wedding and events space. Built in 1826, it was originally an old peoples’ home for retired pub landlords before it was bombed in WWII, and never an asylum as we think of them today. Today it’s as eery as it is beautiful – and a hugely popular wedding venue for the trendy Londoner.
Underground Tunnels at Queen Elizabeth I's Former Home
Home to Princess Elizabeth in 1553 (later Queen Elizabeth I), Somerset House alone is steeped in history. Hidden below the streets next to the Thames, Somerset House’s Lightwells and Deadhouse now operate as event spaces available for private hire – the Lightwells were featured in Downton Abbey. The Deadhouse is an underground tunnel which is spooky enough on its own, with memorials on the wall creating an atmospheric backdrop for any event or photoshoot.
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