Halloween: Ten most haunted places in Camden?
Gather round, it's time to recall some of the borough's fabled ghost stories once more
27 October, 2017 — By Alina Polianskaya
ONE of London’s oldest gay bars also has one of the capital’s bloodiest histories. The soul of a woman named ‘Mrs Wyatt’ is said to wander the building, shaking window panes and wailing, after being murdered by her husband in the cellar by being bricked up. Paranormal psychic Derek Acorah, from the hit television programme Most Haunted, once warned publicans not to let anyone in the cellar alone after visiting the pub. Mrs Wyatt’s ghost is not apparently alone. A young boy is also said to have been killed there after witnessing the deadly crime. And if that isn’t creepy enough, the ghost of a unhappy girl in a white dress and pigtails was once reportedly spotted sitting in the first floor window.
2. THE FLASK, Highgate West Hill
THE oldest part of this traditional pub, which comes with ghosts aplenty, dates back to 1663 when Highgate was a small village. The most regular other-worldly visitor is a Spanish barmaid in olden day clothes, who has been seen roaming in the seating area, causing lights to sway and the room to go cold in her presence. It has been said that the ghostly maid hanged herself in the cellar when her unrequited love for the landlord drove her to despair. A man in Cavalier uniform has also been spotted walking the rooms, nonchalantly disappearing into a pillar. In what may be a step in explaining the phenomena, legend has it that one of the first ever autopsies was carried out in the pub’s Committee Room, by grave-robbers who had snatched a body from Highgate Cemetery. Also, a stray bullet embedded into one of the walls fuels many rumours about how the apparitions came to be, but to this day no one can be sure.
3. THE BLACK CAP, Camden High Street
SOME historians say that in the 16th century, witches used to occupy the site of the bar, one of the best known in Camden High Street. Best known of all these witches was the Old Mother Red Cap, who had a reputation for killing off ex-lovers. As the story goes, one unfortunate man was found as cinders in her oven, while another simply disappeared after a drunken row. Her parents were also partial to a spot of black magic, and were hanged for supposedly using it to kill off a girl. Her name was later changed to Mother Black Cap due to her choice of dark grey clothes and a black cat which never left her side. Rumour has it that on the day she died, the devil entered her home and never left. Could her spirit be the cause of the knocking doors and reflections of shadows? A similar tale is attributed to the World’s End Pub Across the road. Drag performers have claimed to have seen black shadows moving about in the mirrors. Burlesque performer Lilly SnatchDragon said: “It is a little bit creepy down in the changing rooms. It often feels like there is something there with you but it never feels malicious. I always say hello when I enter the club.”
4. DOMINION THEATRE, Tottenham Court Road
A CREEPY photo featuring a photo-bombing ghost did the rounds a few years ago. We Will Rock You patron Stuart Cheveralls apparently snapped a colour photo of himself and his partner Natalie, with a black and white face of a young girl in between the two. It is up to the critics to decide whether the photo is real or fake, but some believers suggest that the spirit could be a victim of The Great London Beer Flood which took place 200 years ago. A huge vat of brewing ale at the Meux and Company Brewery, which used to stand on the theatre’s site burst open on October 17, 1814 sending waves of beer gushing through the streets of St Giles, destroying buildings and killing eight people in its path.
5. THEATRE ROYAL, DRURY LANE
DATING back to 1812, the Drury Lane Theatre is thought to be one of the most haunted buildings in the country. The resident ghost, known as the ‘man in grey’ and dressed as an 18th century nobleman is often seen roaming the theatre and disappearing into the wall. Remains were found of a skeleton in a sealed-up passage when the theatre was renovated. A dagger was discovered in the middle of the bones. Rumours say the man had fallen in love with an actress at the theatre, but her jilted lover – also an actor – became jealous of their affair and murdered the man, hiding the body away for years. Actors believe his presence is a good thing, as he only shows up at the start of successful productions, including Oklahoma, Miss Saigon and The King and I.
6. HIGHGATE CEMETERY, Swain’s Lane
THERE have been many accounts of sightings of a ghostly being floating just above the grounds, usually described as an evil spirit. The sceptre, soon came to be known as the Highgate Vampire, after dead animals drained of their blood were found in the vicinity. A man once described being frozen to the spot after coming across the ghost. Author David Farrant, who penned the book Beyond The Highgate Vampire, wrote that the sinister being could be something to do with ley-lines passing through the cemetery.
7. THE WORLD’S END, Camden High Street
GHOST stories linked to this pub have become intertwined with those associated with The Black Cap. Situated just across the road The World’s End also claims the story of Old Mother Red Cap as their own, adding that the pub was built on the site where her cottage once used to stand. No one is quite sure where she truly carried out her dastardly deeds, picking off lovers who wronged her one by one, but this could be the place, and the pub was indeed named after her years ago, before changing its name to The World’s End. The Camden Town venue is thought to have been a popular halfway house for highway men in the 1600s. Other stories from days gone by suggest that the basement once housed torture chambers and gallows. No current employees say they have come across any apparitions there, but legend has it that shrieks can sometimes be heard from down below.
8. KING’S CROSS STATION, Euston Road
A MORE modern apparition in this collection of ghost stories, a young woman with long brown hair, dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, has been spotted several times, crying by the station. One report from a man in 1998, claimed that he walked straight through her when he tried to see if she was ok. It has been claimed that she may have been a victim of the fire that killed 31 people at the station in 1987, which is consistent with others claiming they could smell smoke at the station whenever she is seen. On a rather different note, legend has it that the final resting place of Queen Boudicca may be located under platform.
9. NEW END THEATRE TUNNELS, New End, Hampstead
THE theatre started life as a mortuary, with tunnels connecting it to the former New End Hospital, where bodies were carted from one to the other. Though these are new sealed, staff shared stories for many years of ghostly sounds in the backstage areas, which sceptics put down to creaky floorboards and old wiring. The theatre in Hampstead has since been converted into a Jewish cultural centre.
10. THE SPANIARD’S INN, Spaniard’s Road
SOME say that the ghost of Dick Turpin himself still wanders the grounds of what publicans say was once his stomping ground, accompanied by the sound of the hooves of Black Bess. More mysteriously, a lady in white who has also been spotted in the area. Legend has it that a fight between two of the pub’s early landlords, who fell for the same woman led to a duel to the death. The unfortunate soul of the loser, Juan Porero is thought to still haunt the pub, after being buried in the grounds.
Have we missed a ghost story? Do you know somewhere in Camden that is haunted?