Spooky Self-Guided Walk
Embrace the spooky side of the Square Mile and discover the City's most gruesome and ghoulish sites in this self-guided walk of the City's ancient hospitals, ghost sites and murder investigations.
1. Hen & Chicken Court, Fleet Street
To kick the walk off in a gruesome manner, it would not be a true London ghoulish tour without the appearance of the notorious Sweeney Todd, the barber who killed his clients and, together with his lover Mrs. Lovett, cooked them into meat pies and sold them around Fleet Street. It is still unclear if Sweeney Todd is real or a legend. However, it is speculated his shop would have been around Hen and Chicken Court on Fleet Street.
2. St Bartholomew’s Hospital Museum (TEMPORARILY CLOSED)
Dating back to 1123, St. Bartholomew is the oldest hospital in Britain. Even though walls do not talk, some of Barts history is exhibited in the hospital museums North Wing. From old surgical equipment to marble heads and dusty documents, one even signed by Henry VIII, the real attraction here is the William Hogarth canvases. Rumour has it that Hogarth was so angry at the hospital, which was planning to commission an Italian artist for the job, that he painted two haunting Scripture stories, The Pool of Bathesda and The Good Samaritan, for free.
3. St. Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral is one of the most visited attractions in London. However, not many know that the cathedral is also home to a supernatural resident. In the All Souls’ Chapel, where the memorial of Lord Kitchener was laid, many visitors often report the sounds of a mournful whistle. The tune is distinctive and different from anything that could be, even remotely, attributed to the wind. Not spooked out yet? After WW1, during a renovation of the chapel, one of the workers found a secret doorway behind where the mysterious ‘Whistler’ is heard. The doorway leads to a spiral staircase and a secret room, perhaps the private room of a ghost?
The ghost stories, however, do not stop there. Visitors of the cathedral also report seeing a kneeling woman, who searches for something on the floor. When approaching the woman, intending to offer her help, something taps them on the shoulder. When they turn around there is nobody behind them and when they look back at the kneeling woman, she has mysteriously disappeared.
4. The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street
‘The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street’ is the nickname of the Bank of England which has stood in its current location, right in the heart of the City of London since 1734. In the early 1800s though, there was another old lady of Threadneedle Street who was indeed more mysterious. Sarah Whitehead had a brother called Philip, a disgruntled former employee of the bank, who was found guilty of forgery in 1811 and executed for his crime. News of both his crime and execution were kept from his devoted sister, but one day she turned up at the Bank of England to ask about her brother and a clerk revealed to her his tragic fate. The shock of the discovery turned the poor woman’s mind and thereafter, every day for the next 25 years she went to the Bank and asked to see her brother. When she died she was buried in the old churchyard that later became the bank’s garden, and her ghost has been seen on many occasions in the past. If you wander along Threadneedle Street late at night don’t be surprised if you get approached by a lady in dark clothing enquiring sadly (though politely) ‘Have you seen my brother?’
5. Liverpool Street Station
Liverpool Street Station might not be as ordinary as you think. Through the years many visitors have reported seeing ghosts, often of a strange male figure waiting for a train. A second later the male vanishes, as if he was never there. This could have something to do with the 2015 Cross-rail excavation of the burial ground of Bethlem Hospital (commonly known as Bedlam) used between the 16th and 18th centuries. During this excavation, 30 victims of the Plague were uncovered beneath what is now Liverpool Street Station. Could it be that the excavation project disturbed the wrong grave?
6. Mitre Square and Jack the Ripper
Many are familiar with the story of Jack the Ripper. However, did you know that his fourth victim, Catherine Eddowes, was found lying dead on the pavement of Mitre Square (near St. Mary Axe), around 2am on 30 September 1888?
7. Fenchurch Station
In 1864, Scotland Yard encountered their first murder committed on a train. In this time period trains were already a popular transportation method and petty rail crimes were common. What nobody saw coming, however, was the murder of Thomas Briggs, a 70-year-old bank chief clerk, who was on his way home to Marylebone. The crime took place at around 9.50pm on the North London Railway, on a train departing from Fenchurch Street, in a first-class car. The victim was by himself and nobody saw the suspect. From analysing the crime scene Scotland Yard discovered that Briggs top hat and watch were missing. Inspector Richard Tanner put out a reward for information. This action attracted the attention of a jeweller, to whom the murderer had attempted to sell the watch. The murderer was Thomas Mueller, whose public execution was witnessed by a crowd estimated at 50,000.
8. Jamaica Wine House
Opened in 1652, the Jamaica Wine House is considered the birthplace of London’s coffee scene. The place was frequently visited by 17th century diarist Samuel Pepys. Overall, it seems like a perfectly normal place in the City. However, members of staff tell a different story. After a spiritual seance, manager Lee Anderson was told there were ghosts haunting the pub. Anderson said “I was sceptical before that whole thing. It sounds ridiculous, but I felt really uncomfortable…They said that there were disgruntled spirits in the room. They came up from the cellar about ten minutes later and rushed out, visibly panicked.” She added: “Staff sometimes say they feel things and I’ve seen things fly across the room.”