48 Doughty Street to 13 Portsmouth Street WC2: When he was 27 years old, Charles Dickens, moved into this imposing house in 1837 with his new wife, Catherine. They lived here for three years during which time his sister-in-law, Mary Hogarth died here. Mary was the inspiration for the character of Little Nell, who worked in the little 'odds and ends' shop in his tragic novel, The Old Curiosity Shop. The concerned ghost of Charles Dickens, wearing top hat and tails, has been seen rushing along this route.
University College Hospital Gower Street NW1: The first operation with the use of a general anaesthetic was performed at this hospital in 1846 when a leg was amputated in just thirty seconds. In 1890, a young nurse, Lizzie Church, attended the bedside of her lover who was a patient here. She accidentally administered an overdose of morphine and he died. It is said she committed suicide in remorse and her ghost is seen to this day by hospital staff when morphine is administered to patients.
Lincoln's Inn Fields off High Holborn WC2: This is the largest public square in London and was one of the major sites of public executions that were carried out in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In1586, Anthony Babington was hung, drawn and quartered for his part in a plot to remove Queen Elizabeth I from the throne of England and replace her with Mary, Queen of Scots. His ghost roams the grounds.
Red Lion Square WC1: In 1649, Charles I of England was tried for high treason in Whitehall, found guilty and duly beheaded on a scaffold erected in front of the Banqueting House. He was replaced by Parliament, the coup led by Oliver Cromwell, John Bradshaw, and Cromwell¹s son in law, Henry Ireton. These three men were given extensive rewards of lands and titles for their dedication to the cause of republicanism. By 1661, however, all three had died and were buried alongside English nobility in Westminster Abbey. At the restoration of the monarchy in 1661, Charles II took revenge on the three men who had put his father to death. Their remains were exhumed from their stately monuments and taken to Red Lion Square where they were posthumously tried for regicide and found guilty. Their decaying corpses were taken to Tyburn to be mutilated, and their heads were displayed on spikes outside Westminster Hall as a deterrent to Parliamentarians who still opposed the King. The ghosts of these three men walk across Red Lion Square conspiring together for eternity, and the ghost of John Bradshaw has been seen in Westminster Abbey bemoaning the loss of his prestigious position and his eventual demise.
The Ship Tavern Gate Street Kingsway WC2: In the late seventeenth century, Catholics were prevented from practising their faith under threat of death. James Archer, a Catholic barman in the Ship Tavern, was ordained as a priest and gave Divine Service to his congregation in this pub. In 1780, both he and his congregation were rounded up and executed. His ghost haunts the pub but only appears to Catholics who drink there.
Wig and Pen Pub: Though the much lauded Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell died in 1658, in 1661, he was dug up and hanged, his skull then placed on a pole outside Westminster Hall for 20 years. The skull passed through several hands before being exhibited at this pub where his ghost is said to haunt.
Drury Lane Theatre Covent Garden Catherine Street WC2: This is London's most haunted theatre. The ghost of Joseph Grimaldi, the versatile stage performer, is seen in the theatre, dressed in harlequin suit with half moons painted onhis cheeks, he is seen watching from the balcony. He is also seen at Covent Garden underground station. Also at the theatre, 'The Man in Grey' is sometimes seen. He is dressed in riding boots, with black cloak and tri-cornered hat and he is believed to be the actor Arnold Woodruff who was murdered in 1790 and whose skeleton was found during renovations with a knife firmly embedded in his ribs. Outside the theatre, another ghost, that of Charles Macklin, appears at the backstage door. Charles attacked a fellow actor, Thomas Hallam, during an argument over a wig and accidentally stabbed him through the eye with his cane, killing him in the process.
Covent Garden Opera House and Underground Station. On 16th December, 1897, the actor, William Terriss, was stabbed by his love rival, Richard Arthur Prince, and died in the arms of his sweet-heart, the actress Jesse Milward. William¹s ghost haunts the stage door and Covent Garden underground station. He is dressed in a frock coat, tall hat and white gloves.
Threadneedle Street EC2. In 1798, the directors of the Bank of England were granted permission to bury the body of a long serving bank clerk, William Jenkins, within the confines of the Bank because it was feared that his body would be stolen for medical experiments. William Jenkins was 7¹6" tall and his spirit is still seen walking the corridors of power and in the grounds of this distinguished building.
Cashier's clerk, Philip Whitehead also worked at the Bank of England. On 2nd November 1811 he was convicted of fraud at the Old Bailey and hanged. His sister, Sarah, lived at Wine Office Court, just off Fleet Street, and visited the Bank each morning to ask if anyone had seen her brother because he was missing from home. At first the staff told her Philip had just left, but Sarah relied on her brother for income and was obviously desperately in need of money to pay the rent. Eventually, she turned to prostitution, a death sentence in those days. The staff could not lie to her any longer and told her the truth, that he had been hanged for fraud. Sarah was distraught. As she had no personal income, they gave her money, said to be £50, a very large sum to go away. Sarah's ghost still lingers outside the Bank, touching passers by on the arm. She is seen wearing a long black dress and a black veil. She is buried in the Bank grounds which are now a garden. A medium said that the Bank staff were unkind and ridiculed her, intentionally keeping from her the horrendous news that her brother had been unjustly hanged. When they realised her appalling plight, they gave her money to help her survive but did not want to be reminded of their cruel joke at her expense. Another medium described how the Bank staff themselves visited Sarah to use her body for their pleasure and never gave her the money in order to keep her returning. If you visit the area, Sunday is the best time to catch the energies and you might also hear a message from the spirit world.
Almost a hundred years later, in 1683, Lord William Russell was sentenced to be beheaded in the square for his part in the Rye House plot to murder Charles II. The infamous, Jack Ketch, was the chief executioner that day. He made several attempts to axe Lord Russell's head from his shoulders. After the third attempt, Russell was heard to wince "Did I give you ten guineas to do this to me?" Watch out! Jack Ketch's ghost haunts the square after dark on summer evenings!
33 Cock Lane, Snow Hill EC1. In 1759, this house, just off Snow Hill in London's Smithfield, was occupied by Mr and Mrs Parsons and their daughter, Elizabeth. Richard Parsons was a lowly paid clerk at St Sepulchres Church nearby and had rented out a room in their house to a stockbroker, William Kent who moved in with his wife. While she was giving birth, she died in the house. Kent married her sister, Fanny, very quickly afterwards. Parsons had borrowed 12 guineas from Kent, a considerable sum in those days. Kent and Fanny then moved to Clerkenwell but Fanny died of what was said to be smallpox about 18 months later. Young, Elizabeth Parsons, only ten years old, reported seeing Fanny's ghost which caused knocks, raps and loud noises. William Kent never received his loan money back and Richard Parsons and Mrs Parsons accused Kent of murdering Fanny in order to receive insurance money. Kent took Mr and Mrs Parsons to court for slander and non payment of the loan. Mr and Mrs Parsons were tried at Guildhall and found guilty. Kent was awarded damages and Parsons received two years in prison and his wife one year. When the coffin of William Kent's first wife, Fanny's coffin was opened in 1845, there was no evidence of smallpox but the death bore all the hallmarks of arsenic poisoning. In 1893, investigations showed there were traces of arsenic found inside the coffin. Many prominent people of the time, including the Duke of York visited 33 Cock Lane, where the bangs and knocks occurred that led to Fanny's murder being revealed by Elizabeth.
Wendy Stokes writes regularly for Spiritualist publications, such as Psychic World and The Spirit Messenger. Her book 'The Lightworkers Circle Guide - A Workbook for Spiritual Groups' explains how to facilitate a group for channelling, healing and divination. www.wendystokes.co.uk