London is a city filled with charm, history, and wonderful attractions. But because everyone prefers to fixate on Big Ben, Queen Elizabeth, and double-decker buses, not many are aware of its reputation as one of the most haunted capitals in the world.
Haunted London: Your Guide to the City’s Darkest Secrets
Author Richard Jones is known for chronicling the most haunted spots in the United Kingdom. For the past 27 years, he has dug deep into the most terrifying ghosts stories and legends surrounding the historic sites in London.
The capital of England is one of the top paranormal destinations in the whole world. From a devastating plague to civil wars, London’s dark and brutal past gave birth to several urban legends and myths.
A Look into the History of Haunted London
London was discovered by the Romans, who later departed between 407 and 410 AD. The city underwent several rebuilding and regimes after that. During the seventeenth century, when King James I was about to be crowned, a severe plague hit the city. The epidemic claimed the lives of over thirty thousand people.
Shortly after the plague hit, London was hit by yet another catastrophe. The Great Fire of London was dubbed as one of the worst conflagrations in history. It left many dead and thousands of those already living in poverty lost their homes.
During World War II, London suffered many casualties as well. The city was bombed several times by German Nazi forces. Only the children were evacuated to the countryside. By the war’s end, it was reported that there were under 30,000 casualties in the city.
From Jack the Ripper to Other Spooky Locations
The century-long suffering that its people have gone through turned the city of London into something synonymous to the word haunted. One of its most notorious urban legends is that of Jack the Ripper.
Richard Jones is the man behind the critically acclaimed documentary Unmasking Jack the Ripper. It was filmed entirely on the East End of London, where Jack the Ripper’s murdering spree reportedly took place. He would target women, a majority of which were prostitutes, and would horribly mutilate them. The case baffled authorities at that time, and the killer’s identity would remain a mystery until this day.
One of Jack’s victims, Annie Chapman, is believed to be haunting the Ten Bells. Staff of this quaint London pub has reported poltergeist activity and sudden drops of temperature.
Jack the Ripper was just one of the many phantoms that have haunted England’s capital. Over time, more and more tales from the crypt have surfaced, some of which come from very reliable sources. But not all the ghosts of haunted London are from urban legends. Some unruly spirits are said to be that of historical figures.
The Ghost of Anne Boleyn in the Tower of London
Do you believe in ghosts? For those who work in the Tower of London, the answer is probably yes. The infamous Bloody Tower served as a prison for enemies of the Royal Family. During that time, those who were found guilty of treason or other crimes were immediately beheaded. Despite meeting such gruesome end, the prisoners never left the tower.
Many believe that Lady Jane Grey, Guy Fawkes, and Henry VI still lurk around the Tower of London. Even the restless spirits of the beheaded refuse to leave the place where they suffered the most. But perhaps the most famous spirit is the ghost of Anne Boleyn, who was mercilessly executed upon the order of her husband, King Henry VII.
Anne Boleyn’s ghost can be spotted at the courtyard, where she coldly stares out the window of the room where she was held captive. More sinister sightings involve Anne walking down the halls with her own head tucked underneath one arm.
Aside from Jack the Ripper and the Tower of London, there are more frightening stories about the dead surrounding the city. Even tourist areas like the Spaniard’s Inn are home to some ghastly tales. Their infamous ghost is that of Dick Turpin, the British highwayman who continues to wreak havoc on the hotel.
The Ragged Museum seems to have taken advantage of their haunted reputation. The museum, which is said to be a hot spot for poltergeist activities, now offers ghost tours to paranormal enthusiasts.
Are these hauntings real or nothing but elaborate fiction?
Many people believe in the existence of ghosts. Jones, who has explored over 2,000 haunted places in his career, acknowledges that there are certain individuals who are more likely to see spirits than others. He adds that hauntings are personal experiences, you either are lucky enough to have a ghost manifest itself to you or you just aren’t the type to see the dead or feel their presence.
Tourists who have explored London claimed to have taken photographs that prove the city’s haunted nature. Many of these photos consist of orbs. While skeptics denounce that this is proof of the paranormal, psychics claim that this truly is an emanation of spirit activity.
Psychics added that while spirits cannot be seen with the naked eye, capturing them on camera is not entirely impossible. Other theories surrounding these orbs are more far-fetched, with declarations that they are actually proof of alien life trying to communicate with humans.
So that goes back to the question, are these hauntings real? Perhaps that will remain a mystery for now. Science has done little to prove the existence of ghosts. In retrospect, they have done even less to disprove a number of strange phenomena.
Whether this is a residual haunting, an intelligent spirit, a poltergeist, or a demon, the ghosts of haunted London have continued to make the city even more diverse than it already is.