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Ghosts, Folklore and Forteana of Greater London

Bear Hunt

Location: E8 - Hackney marshes
Type: Cryptozoology
Date / Time: 27 December 1981, and May 2012
Further Comments: Four children reported seeing a bear in the marshland at Hackney in 1981- investigators discovered large paw prints in the snow but failed to find the animal. In 2012, student Helen Murray took two photographs of a large black haired creature in the area.

Sleeping Nurse

Location: E8 - Mothers Hospital (no longer operational), Hackney
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Twentieth century?
Further Comments: Nurses on the verge of falling asleep would feel a light tap on the shoulder. Legends stated a nurse was responsible for the death of an infant due to dozing on duty; she killed herself and her ghost ensured no-one made the same mistake.


Location: E8 - River Lea
Type: Cryptozoology
Date / Time: 2005
Further Comments: After witnesses watched a Canada goose pulled under the water never to reappear, several people declared the attack must have been by a crocodile. However, experts said the attacker was much more likely to have been a large pike.

Man in Red

Location: E8 - St Barnabas church
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Twentieth century
Further Comments: At least twice in the twentieth century, thirty years separating the two sightings, a figure wearing a red cassock has been spotted walking down the church passageway. The second time he was spotted, the phantom walked through a wall.

Too Many Ghosthunters

Location: E9 - Hackney Churchyard, Mare Street
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: August 1895
Further Comments: A crowd of around two thousand people descended on this churchyard after a rumour started that it was haunted. At least one man was arrested for being drunk and disorderly, and gravestones were damaged by the crowd. A piece of folklore said three boys once played cards in the churchyard, with one proclaiming 'God may strike me down if I win this game'; the boy promptly fell dead and reputedly took to haunting the spot.

Cock Lane at night, London.

The Cock-Lane Ghost

Location: EC1 - 20 Cock Lane (no longer standing)
Type: Poltergeist
Date / Time: October 1762
Further Comments: No longer standing, this building was plagued by an outbreak of internationally famous poltergeist activity that centred itself around a young child in the household, Elizabeth Parsons.

Burning Martyrs

Location: EC1 - Area around the Martyrs' Memorial, Smithfield
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: The location where a total of 277 Protestants were once burnt alive for their beliefs, some have reported hearing their cries and screams late at night. Less fortunate people have also reported the smell of burning flesh.

Headless Duke

Location: EC1 - Charterhouse
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: The Duke of Norfolk, who spent much of his time and money here, lost his head after upsetting Queen Elizabeth and now ascends the staircase of the great hall. Outside the buildings, a monk has been seen flitting between the courtyards of Washhouse and Masters.

Anne Naylor

Location: EC1 - Chick Lane (later renamed West Street), demolished 1940s/50s
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Pre-1940s
Further Comments: Anne Naylor was murdered by a mother and daughter after she tried to escape their employment. Anne's sister was also murdered when she tried to investigate Anne's disappearance. The bodies were dumped in Chick Lane; soon the area was awash with tales of a pale white woman who had started to haunt the area. The daughter eventually confessed to the crimes, and she and her mother were executed in 1768.

Anne Naylor

Location: EC1 - Farringdon Underground Station
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: The odd screams that have been heard in this area are attributed to Naylor, thirteen year old girl murdered on this site in 1758. She is now referred to as 'the Screaming Spectre'.

Vanishing Person

Location: EC1 - Holborn Library
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: 2010s
Further Comments: An archivist using a mirror in the third floor bathroom glimpsed a person walk behind her and turned to find nobody there. An art curator visiting the then-unused fourth floor was violently pushed in the shoulder by an unseen presence, and a cleaner working in the basement ran from it in terror, refusing to say what she had seen or return to the library. Strange lights have also been witnessed in the reserve stock room and doors open and slam by themselves.

Victorian Lady

Location: EC1 - House of Detention, Sans Walk
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: The apparition of a lady in a Victorian dress has been reported walking around the building (what is left of it), while phantom footsteps and the soft crying of a lost child have also been reported.

Joseph Grimaldi (public domain).

Grimaldi the Clown

Location: EC1 - Sadler's Wells Theatre, Rosebury Avenue
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: Once seen sitting in one of the boxes (which no longer exist), Joseph Grimaldi is still seen wearing his clown makeup, almost 200 years since his death.

Horned Figure

Location: EC1 - Smithfield
Type: Unknown Ghost Type
Date / Time: 1600s
Further Comments: This phantom figure was said to have danced over meat stalls while angry butchers and meat merchants tried to stab at it, striking only thin air.


Location: EC1 - St Bartholomew's church
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: 01 July, 07:00h (Rahere) (reoccurring), others early twentieth century
Further Comments: This pious monk, who doubled as a jester in Henry I's court, is thought to be the man who built the church and has been reported standing by the altar. He quickly disappears if seen. Another figure was observed in the pulpit by a former Rector, who said the man wore clothing from the Reformation period. A different witness spotted a woman in a white dress, while others have claimed shuffling footsteps were heard around the building.


Location: EC1 - St Bartholomew's Hospital, West Smithfield
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: Grace Ward (once known as Pinkie's Ward?) is reputedly home to a nurse in old fashioned dress. Some say that she killed herself after administering an overdose to a patient, while other stories say she was murdered by an insane patient in the lift (after which, the lift would never work correctly). Another ghostly nurse haunts Bedford Fenwick Ward, and is said to be comforting in nature. Another story, or another version of first story, says that the theatre lift in the King George the Fifth block is haunted by Jasmine, who smells strongly of floral perfume.

Figure in Photo

Location: EC1 - St Botolph's Church, Bishopsgate
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: 1982
Further Comments: Appearing in a photograph taken by Mr Chris Brackley, the image bore up to intense scrutiny. Mr Brackley was later contacted by a builder who recognised the face of one that he had seen in a coffin in the church.

Red Haired Man

Location: EC1 - Sutton Arms public house, Carthusian Street
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: 1997
Further Comments: This smiling redheaded entity materialises only for a couple of seconds at a time, before vanishing as quickly as he appears. He has been described as elderly, dressed in old fashioned clothing, and wearing a large grin on his face.


Location: EC1 - The Elms, Smithfield (located outside Church of St Bartholomew the Great)
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: Hundreds of people were executed by being burnt alive outside the church during the reign of Henry VIII. One version of the ghost story says that screams and the crackling of fire is said to be heard, and the smell of burning flesh occasionally detected, while another (less dramatic) version has the haunting consist of groans and shuffling footsteps.


Location: EC1 - Viaduct Tavern
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: One of the ghosts which haunts this pub goes by the name of Robert. He may be responsible for the poltergeist actions that occur within this building.


Location: EC1 - Ye Old Red Cow, Cloth Fair
Type: Post-Mortem Manifestation
Date / Time: 1981
Further Comments: Believed to be a former landlord (though the jury is out on his name), this phantom figure would sit upstairs and look down at the patrons for a short time after his death..

A phantom wearing a large hat.

Lady in a Hat

Location: EC1A - Private residence on Hanover Square (likely no longer standing)
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Circa 1902
Further Comments: A wife and husband both spotted a face manifest at the foot of their bed, both describing it as a woman wearing a large hat.

A Ghost Returns

Location: EC1A - Unknown house on Snow Hill (likely no longer standing)
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: 1905
Further Comments: An old newspaper article mentions the return of a 'Cock Lane Ghost' along this road, although the exact details are not specified.

Lady Elizabeth Hatton

Location: EC1N - Bleeding Heart Yard
Type: Legend - Old Nick
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: A bloody local legend says that Elizabeth was found here in 1626, her four limbs ripped from her body, but her heart still beating. She was last spotted dancing with a tall dark figure, said to be the devil.

Bank of England, Threadneedle Street, London.

Sarah Whitehead

Location: EC2 - Bank of England, Threadneedle Street
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: 1850s onwards
Further Comments: Sarah Whitehead's brother, Philip, worked at the Bank of England before being convicted and executed of forgery in 1812. When Sarah found out what had happened to Philip, her mind snapped and she spent every day for the remaining 25 years of her life visiting the bank, asking to see her brother. The black mourning clothes Sarah wore earned her the nickname 'The Black Nun'. In these cloths she is still occasionally seen in and around the garden of the bank.

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