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Ghosts, Folklore and Forteana of London's WC1 District


Location: WC1 - 001 Red Lion Square
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Circa 1915
Further Comments: A couple who lived at Number 001 for several months in 1915 reported hearing footsteps and the sounds of a scuffle, although investigations never turned up anyone else on the site. A woman in a dress dating from around the mid-nineteenth century was said to have been spotted.

Frightened Woman

Location: WC1 - 003 Red Lion Square
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Circa 1915
Further Comments: A woman in a dress dating from around the mid-nineteenth century was said to have been spotted on the staircase of this building. The figure was seen heading towards the front door where she vanished. A story said she had been murdered on the site and, as the main suspect had an alibi, no one was charged with the crime.

Emma Louise

Location: WC1 - Arthur Tattersall House, 119 Gower Street, University College London Halls of Residence
Type: Legend
Date / Time: 2000s
Further Comments: An urban myth, it is said that Emma Louise was murdered long ago in tunnels around this building, and that if you say her name three times, her presence makes itself known.


Location: WC1 - Blooms Town House Hotel, Bloomsbury - Room 1
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Twentieth century
Further Comments: This part of the hotel, built on the site of a garden, is thought to be haunted by the spirit of a man who once enjoyed sitting in the sunlight reading books from the nearby library.

The Case of Amen-Ra

Location: WC1 - British Museum
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Twentieth century
Further Comments: Two fables can be found here. The first concerns a haunted mummy case - as well as the traditional curse, the casket in question was accompanied by acts of poltergeist like behaviour and the manifestation of a female figure. Thirteen mysterious deaths and suicides have been attributed to the sarcophagus. The second dates to when the museum was Montague (or Montagu) House. Two brothers fought a duel in the land behind the building (known as both Long Fields and Southampton Fields). So intense was their fight that no grass ever grew again in their footprints. According to T F Thiselton Dyer (Strange Pages from Family Papers), the footprints were located 'about three-quarters of a mile north of Montague House and five hundred yards east of Tottenham Court Road'.

Egyptian Princess

Location: WC1 - British Museum Station (closed 1933)
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Pre-1933
Further Comments: Connected to the 'curse' of the Amen-Ra's tomb, this Egyptian Princess would return from the grave late at night and would wail and scream in the tunnels. A more recent report states that these sounds can now be heard further down the track, in Holborn station.

Colin Evans

Location: WC1 - Conway Hall
Type: Other
Date / Time: Circa 1937/38
Further Comments: Over a period of around two years, Evans would use the hall to demonstrate his power of levitation - he would hover between three feet and fifteen feet off the ground for periods up to sixty seconds.


Location: WC1 - Doughty Street, road outside Dickens's museum
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: 1971
Further Comments: Dickens' ghost, dressed in black with a top hat, has been seen pacing along the street where he once lived.

Dr John Cumming

Location: WC1 - Grange Blooms Hotel
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: A Scottish clergyman, Cumming preached that the End of Days would take place between 1848 and 1867. Cumming's ghost may still loiter waiting for the end to come.

Anthony Babington

Location: WC1 - Lincoln's Inn Fields
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: Once a popular place for the populace to view the public executions, this dark figure seen lurking around the area at night could be one of those hung, drawn and quartered on the spot.

Mabel's Tavern, London.


Location: WC1 - Mabel's Tavern
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: 1970s onwards
Further Comments: Mabel was a former landlady who is now said to return to the tavern. She has moved boxes in the cellar, and been heard calling out the name of the newer landlady and operating a dumb waiter, even though the equipment had previously been removed from the pub.

Crying Man

Location: WC1 - New British Library
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: A crying man dressed in eighteenth century garb has been seen on the new site, and builders reported the sound of chains during construction.

An old woodcut of a tall, strange-looking, bird.

Black Winged Creature

Location: WC1 - Old Chambers, Lincoln's Inn (no longer standing)
Type: Cryptozoology
Date / Time: Circa 1901
Further Comments: Charles Appleby was found dead in his room, large claw marks on his arms and neck, the door and windows locked from the inside. Witnesses outside the building who could see into his room through a window said they could see the man fighting a shadowy bird like creature, though it was at least the same size as Appleby. Reports of the creature continued for a while afterwards, and one team of investigators who put down chalk dust during their stakeout recording finding large claw marks in the powder the following day.

Robert Perceval

Location: WC1 - Private chambers, Serle Street, Lincoln's Inn
Type: Manifestation of the Living
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: While a student here, the young Perceval watched as a doppelganger entered his room, blood covering the head and chest. Perceval fainted, and when he came to, the figure had vanished. Several days (or months, depending on the storyteller) later he was found dead, battered around the areas where his double had been seen to bleed. After his death, Perceval's ghost was said to manifest in his former room, still covered in blood.

Unearthly Sounds

Location: WC1 - Private flat, Great Coram Street (now known as Coram Street)
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Circa 1872
Further Comments: Harriet Buswell was found dead on Christmas morning, her throat slit. Her killer was never found. The room in which her body was found became so haunted that it was kept permanently locked, although unearthly sounds would be heard emerging at night.

Hospital Visitor

Location: WC1 - Private flat, Red Lion Square
Type: Post-Mortem Manifestation
Date / Time: May 1971
Further Comments: A female guest at her friend's small flat was woken by another girl who wanted to know why her bed was occupied. The guest apologised and explained that she was invited, after which the girl left the room and the guest fell back asleep. The following morning, she mentioned the incident to her friend - he paled and explained his flatmate who normally slept there was in hospital after a suicide attempt. They later discovered the girl had died during the night.


Location: WC1 - Private residence
Type: Poltergeist
Date / Time: 2010
Further Comments: An entity hear would start knocking when a person entered the bathroom. The knocking would stop once the entity was acknowledged.

Cromwell, Ireton & Bradshaw

Location: WC1 - Red Lion Square, Drake Street
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Weather dependent: stormy nights (mostly)
Further Comments: These three ghosts have been seen in the square, walking side by side, heading towards the gallows. On one occasion they were seen walking straight through a set of railing, vanishing shortly after.


Location: WC1 - Ship Tavern, Gate Street, Kingsway
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: Once a secret meeting place for Catholics, it is thought the ghosts of those executed nearby still returned for their rendezvous.

Decaying Man

Location: WC1 - Tavistock Square
Type: Post-Mortem Manifestation
Date / Time: 1878, summer, around 04:00h
Further Comments: A man on an early morning walk through the square watched as a tall, slim figure walked by him. The figure wore a black and white hat with a monocle in one eye. The figure also had a corpse-like face and the man recognised the figure as resembling an old friend who was overseas. A nurse walking close by screamed and ran off when she spotted the figure. A week later the man discovered his friend had died.

Forty Footsteps

Location: WC1 - Torrington Square
Type: Other
Date / Time: Eighteenth century
Further Comments: The area of land that existed here before the square was built upon it was named the Field of Forty Footsteps. Two brothers fought and killed each other over for the love of a girl, each step they took during battle killed the grass, and it never grew back.


Location: WC1 - Unidentified residence, Great James Street
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Likely early twentieth century
Further Comments: A flat along this road was said to be haunted by the sounds of footsteps, with the occasional manifestation of a male figure dressed in evening wear with a white handkerchief covering his face.

Jeremy Bentham with Dapple

Location: WC1 - University College
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Twentieth century
Further Comments: Bentham named his walking cane Dapple, and it never left his side during life. Much the same can be said post-mortem; the man and his stick can be heard or seen walking down the corridors of knowledge after dark.

Marcus Beck

Location: WC1 - University College Hospital
Type: Curse
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: Before being stolen in January 2001, the portrait of Beck was considered cursed. People who fell asleep under the painting quickly became ill, and in some cases died. It was also said that if the shutters were not closed on the painting at night, a patient would unexpectedly die.

Lizzie Church

Location: WC1 - University College Hospital, Gower Street
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Twentieth century
Further Comments: Lizzie accidentally killed her lover with a morphine overdose when he was admitted as a patient. Years later, her ghost would appear prior to morphine injections as a reminder to be careful. Two buildings along Gower Street itself reported the ghost of a man with a heavily bandaged head.

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