Psst, don’t tell it, but: London is old.
It’s looking good, given it’s nearly 2,000 years since it was first established as a major hub – no confusion there. For a city at the centre of a changing world, it’s done marvellously well to keep up. Its landmarks and tourist attractions draw millions of visitors every year. But the fact remains: it’s old.
With age comes experience – or in a cities case, experiences. The experiences of the billions of people who have ever called this sprawling metropolis home. You don’t have to believe in ghosts to see that the energy a city like London holds leaves an imprint; becomes something more than the sum of its part.
Combine it all together and you get a city often dubbed the most haunted in the world. Thousands of eerie sightings, a history of torture and public execution; it’s all enough to make anyone a believer. Sceptics and true converts alike can still enjoy the stories that haunt this famous city on their travels, either for the rich history they uncover, or the possibility of a ghoulish encounter. But where to begin?
Hampton Court Palace
Although associated with Henry VIII, he didn’t build this grand palace on the banks of the River Thames. That was his main advisor, Cardinal Wolsey; Henry seized it when he suspected Wolsey of treason. Henry was just that kind of guy.
In his possession, Henry loved Hampton Court and used it frequently for various activities. Sadly, one of those activities was having a wife arrested for treason and adultery.
The ghost of Catherine Howard, Henry’s fifth wife and destined for the scaffold, is said to still haunt Hampton Court. She can be heard screaming for mercy, pleading with Henry to see her and grant clemency.
She was executed in 1542. Once again, Henry was just that kind of guy…
Famous for two reasons: its place on the Monopoly board and… Jack the Ripper.
No one has ever solved the most infamous murder spree in London’s history – perhaps that’s why it pervades. Many theories have been offered, but this far from the events, it’s unlikely there will ever be a definitive answer.
While Whitechapel has changed, there is still plenty to see and do on a Jack the Ripper tour. The areas of the main five murders can still be visited, as well as a guide through the hysteria that gripped the residents at the time. Make sure you stop at Hanbury Street, where numerous visitors have reported the sight of second victim Annie Chapman’s ghost.
Tower Trio: Tower of London, Hill and Bridge
The Tower of London lays claim to being the most haunted building in the world. The famous “White Lady” has surprised many a custodian, and there’s plenty more – such as the infamous Princes in the Tower – besides. Outside the walls, the old execution site on Tower Hill sent the condemned to their graves through much of English history.
The nearby bridge has also reported a number of ghostly goings on, right up to the modern day. Visit the area at night and feel the shivers run down your spine.