The Cripplegate Ghost - A London Ghost Story
The Tower of London
The Most Haunted Building in England?
Grim, grey and awe-inspiring, the Tower of London has dominated the London landscape, and the pages of history, since its construction by William the Conqueror in 1078. It is, perhaps, the most haunted building in England.
The Wakefield Tower is haunted by that most tragic of English monarchs, Henry V1, whose weak and ineffectual reign ended here with his murder "in the hour before midnight" on 21st May 1471, as he knelt at prayer.
Tradition asserts that the knife with which he was "stikk’d full of deadly holes" was wielded by the Duke of Gloucester (later the infamous Richard 111).
On the anniversary of his murder, Henry’s mournful wraith is said to appear as the clock ticks towards midnight, and pace fitfully around the interior of the Wakefield Tower until, upon the last stroke of midnight, he fades slowly into the stone and rests peacefully for another year.
The massive White Tower is the oldest and most forbidding of all the Tower of London’s buildings and its winding stone corridors are the eerie haunt of a "White Lady" who once stood at a window waving to a group of children in the building opposite.
It may well be her "cheap perfume" that impregnates the air around the entrance to St John’s Chapel, and which has caused many a Guard to retch upon inhaling its pungent aroma.
In the gallery where Henry V111’s impressive and exaggerating suit of armour is exhibited, several Guards have spoken of a terrible crushing sensation that suddenly descends upon them as they enter but which lifts, the moment they stagger, shaking from the room.
A guard patrolling through here one stormy night got the sudden and unnerving sensation that someone had thrown a heavy cloak over him. As he struggled to free himself, the garment was seized from behind and pulled tight around his throat by his phantom attacker. Managing to break free from its sinister grasp, he rushed back to the guardroom where the marks upon his neck bore vivid testimony to his brush with the unseen assailant.
A memorial on Tower Green remembers all those unfortunate souls who have been executed here over the centuries.
Anne Boleyn and Lady Jane Grey are both said to return to the vicinity, whilst the ghost of Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury returns here in a truly dramatic and alarming fashion.
At the age of seventy-two she became an unwitting and undeserving target for Henry V111’s petty vengeance. Her son, Cardinal Pole had vilified the King’s claim as head of the Church in England.
But he was safely ensconced in France and so Henry had his mother brought to the block on 27th May 1541. When told by the executioner to kneel, the spirited old lady refused. "So should traitors do and I am none," she sneered.
The executioner raised his axe, took a swing at her and then chased the screaming Countess around the scaffold where he, literally, hacked her to death.
The shameful spectacle has been repeated several times on the anniversary of her death, as her screaming phantom continues to be chased throughout eternity by a ghostly executioner.
The Bloody Tower, the very name of which conjures up all manner of gruesome images, is home to the most poignant shades that drift through this dreadful fortress.
When Edward 1V died suddenly in April 1483, his twelve year old son was destined to succeed him as Edward V.
However, before his coronation could take place, both he and his younger brother, Richard, had been declared illegitimate by Parliament and it was their uncle, the Duke of Gloucester who ascended the throne as Richard 111.
The boys, meanwhile, had been sent to the Tower of London, ostensibly in preparation for Edward’s Coronation, and were often seen playing happily around the grounds.
But then, around June 1483, they mysteriously vanished, and were never seen alive again. It was always assumed, that they had been murdered on Richard’s instructions and their bodies buried, somewhere within the grounds of The Tower.
When two skeletons were uncovered beneath a staircase of the White Tower in 1674, they were presumed to be the remains of the two little princes and afforded Royal burial in Westminster Abbey.
The whimpering wraiths of the two children, dressed in white nightgowns, and clutching each other in terror have frequently been seen in the dimly lit rooms of their imprisonment. Witnesses are moved to pity and long to reach out and console the pathetic spectres. But, should they do so, the trembling revenants back slowly against the wall and fade into the fabric.
Returning to the White Tower, and the fearless Custody Guards who wander its interior in the dead of night, there is the eerie occasion when Mr Arthur Crick, decided to rest as he made his rounds. Sitting on a ledge, he slipped off his right shoe and was in the process of massaging his foot, when a voice behind him whispered, "There’s only you and I here." This elicited from Arthur the very earthly response "Just let me get this bloody shoe on and there’ll only be you!"
Barnet Road, Enfield
The Murder Victim Who Can't Forget.
The sun had sunk beneath the horizon and the autumn night was closing in as Mr Ward and his uncle travelled home along the Enfield to Barnet Road.
All was quiet and still, the only sound being the clatter of the horses’ hooves and the low rumbling of the carriage wheels.
As the night shadows deepened, a feeling of sudden terror, followed by an intense feeling of hopeless melancholy suddenly descended upon both men.
Moments later the horses shied in alarm and, without warning, bolted. The carriage was dragged at breakneck speed as Mr Ward Struggled to control the terrified animals.
Then the moon suddenly burst from behind a bank of cloud and, as its yellow light illuminated the scene, both men saw the cause of the horses’ alarm. Walking on the grass verge alongside them, keeping up easily with the animals’ speed, was a tall man with a deathly pale face. A deep, gaping wound ran along one side of his throat and glimmered in the moonlight.
On they galloped until, as they rounded a bend, the hideous spectre fell behind and stopped by a certain gate.
The horses became calmer, their speed slackened, and, when the two men looked back, they saw the figure standing by the gate staring after them. But, as they watched, it began to fade and, moments later had vanished.
The next day Mr Ward was telling a friend about their experience, and was astonished to learn that, in 1832, a Mr Danby had been murdered alongside that particular gate. and that many people had encountered his spectre in the lane where the crime occurred.
Bell Lane, Enfield
The Enfield Flyer
On a cold and crisp December evening in 1961, young Robert Bird was cycling along Bell Lane on his way to a Boys Brigade meeting, when he sighted a pair of lights speeding towards him from the opposite direction.
As the lights got closer they suddenly swerved across the road and headed straight at him. Convinced that an out of control vehicle was about to run him over, Robert attempted to get out of its path. But it was too late and he braced himself for the inevitable impact.
As is often the case at times of crisis, the whole scene suddenly went into slow motion and he was able to take in that the vehicle was in fact a black coach, being pulled by four horses that were being spurred on by two shadowy figures’.
Strangest of all, was the fact that the carriage was actually travelling four or five feet off the ground.
But, just as the coach was about to hit him, it passed straight through him and vanished.
What Robert had witnessed was the so-called "Phantom Coach of Enfield," a ghostly conveyance that races along Bell Lane, its wheels above the ground, although their noise and that of the horses’ hooves are clearly audible.
Tradition holds that its origins lie in the 18th century, when the countryside hereabouts was marshland, and the rutted road a good deal higher than it is today.
It was quite common for the speeding coaches to veer from the highway and plunge into the swamp, often with tragic results.
Is it possible that the spectral coach, which has been seen by many witnesses, is a vestige of one such long ago tragedy that has somehow left an imprint on the surrounding’s, and which is occasionally re-enacted before startled spectators?
Why not join Richard for a Haunted London Walk and learn more about the ghosts that haunt the streets of the Capital?
The Rose and Crown, Enfield
Turpin Keeps On Riding
The ghost of Dick Turpin must be one of the busiest in England!
For that matter, with the number of pubs that claim his living self as a regular, it’s a miracle he was ever able to remain upright in the saddle.
Turpin’s grandfather, Mr Mott, once kept the Rose and Crown and local tradition maintains that the highwayman would often hide at the pub to evade capture.
His ghost is said to haunt not only the pub, but also the road outside, where astride a jet black mount he gallops hell for leather through the night, no doubt en route to one of the many other pubs he must haunt before daybreak
The Rose and Crown was featured in a legendary Most Haunted Live when the shows medium, Derek Achora, apparently made contact with the spirit of Dick Turpin's grandmother, Mary, with surprising results.
Eaton Place, Belgravia, SW1
The Admiral’s Doppelganger
On 22nd June 1893, Admiral, Sir George Tryon was on manoeuvres with the Mediterranean Fleet off the coast of Syria.
Suddenly he gave orders for his ship the Victoria, and the nearby Camperdown to turn inwards and steam towards each other.
It was obvious to all on board that disaster was imminent, but none of his subordinates dared overrule or question Tryon’s extraordinary command. In consequence, the two ships collided and the Victoria sank, taking the Admiral and four hundred mariners to a watery grave. As the ship went down Sir George was heard to say. ‘It is entirely my fault.’
At more or less the exact moment that Sir George Tryon was plummeting to the ocean bed, his wife was holding an, ‘At home’, in their house in Eaton Place.
Suddenly Sir George, resplendent in full naval regalia, appeared before over a hundred guests, strolled across the room, and vanished.
Lady Tryon did not see him herself and was mystified when told by her guests that her husband had just walked through the room. She explained to her guests that he was far away at sea.
Next day, however, word reached her of the tragedy and she realised that her guests must have seen her husband’s ghost.
Montpelier Square, Knightsbridge, SW7
She Came Back to Save Her Husband’s Soul
Montpelier Square was laid out in the mid-19th century on land that had once belonged to the Moreaus, a wealthy Huguenot family.
Originally it was not considered a particularly good place to live, and it wasn’t until the 1890’s that its star began to wax, and it became a sought after address.
In 1913 a vicar was leaving a nearby church when an agitated lady approached him and told him that a man living nearby was seriously ill and, concerned for the state of his soul, wished to consult with a man of God.
The clergyman went with her to a waiting taxicab, and the two were driven to an imposing house in Montpelier Square. Climbing out the vicar walked up to the door and knocked loudly.
When the Butler answered, he confirmed that the man whom the lady had named, did indeed live at the house, but added that his master was in good health and certainly had no need of the priest’s services.
Mystified, the vicar looked round for an explanation, but there was no sign of either the woman or the taxicab.
At that moment the owner of the house appeared at the door and invited the vicar inside. "It is very strange," said the man, "that you have been sent on such an errand in such a mysterious way…Though I am perfectly well, I have been troubled lately about the state of my soul, and I have been seriously contemplating calling upon you…"
The clergyman stayed for a few hours as the man unburdened his conscience to him, and it was agreed that his new acquaintance would come to church the next morning, and that they would continue their discussion after the service.
However, the man failed to appear at church the next morning, and having ended the service, the vicar came back to the house to see what the matter was.
He was met by the Butler, who told him that his master had suddenly dropped dead, just ten minutes after he had left him the previous evening.
He was led up to the room where the man’s body lay, where he happened to notice a portrait of the lady who had fetched him to the house the previous evening on the table. "Who is this?" He asked. “That sir," replied the butler, "is my master’s wife, who died fifteen years ago."
The William 1V Pub, Hampstead
The Tooth Is Out There
Peering down onto Hampstead High Street, the William 1V pub is a cosy little place that was, so tradition claims, once the house of a local doctor.
For reasons long since forgotten this medic one day murdered his wife, and bricked her body up in a recess in the house’s basement, which is now the cellar of the pub.
Not best pleased by this, her spirit still makes its displeasure known by rattling windows and slamming doors in the dead of night.
Meanwhile, people walking by outside have, from time to time, glimpsed the poignant shade of a young girl who stands on her tip toes and gazes anxiously through the windows of the pub. She is swathed in a white shroud, and her long plaited hair hangs untidily across her shoulder.
Few people can fail to have sympathy for the plight that left this poor girls spirit earthbound, for she is said to have been a young girl whose parents, having dropped her off at a dentist that once stood opposite the William 1V -various versions of the tale place the date at some stage in the early 20th century – came over to the pub and left their daughter to endure the ordeal alone.
So traumatic did she find the experience that she killed herself rather than keep her next appointment, and ever since her ghost occasionally peeps in at the windows of the William 1V seeking the parents who, not content with leaving her to face the whining terror of the dentists drill alone, have apparently, also abandoned her to face eternity alone as well.
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