London is haunted - it is one of the world’s longest continually-inhabited city And with all that history, there have to be a few dead souls roaming the streets of London! For those who like a bit of a scare, to those who are interested in the darker side of history, here is another one of our Self-guided London Ghost Tours. This one is on the Blackfriars and Old City neighborhood, but you can also read our other Self-guided Ghost walk of London's Holborn and Bloomsbury neighborhood.
Neighborhood: Blackfriars and the Old City
START: Blackfriars Underground Station
As soon as you step out of the station you will see The Blackfriar Pub. The pub here is in reference to the fact that this area used to be home to a gigantic medieval monastery: Blackfriars. Originally this pub would have been wedged in between medevial and Victorian buildings – which is why it has such a unique shape! Feel free to stop in here for a refreshment before your ghost hunting begins!
Cross from the station to the pub. Facing the pub you want to walk to the RIGHT down Queen Victoria Street. On your LEFT will come St. Andrew’s Hill. Walk past the road to the church on the LEFT. GO up the steps, turn LEFT then RIGHT at the end of the path.
Stop 1 – St. Andrew by the Wardrobe Church
Stand in the courtyard of the church here which provides a small escape from the grim office blocks stacked up in the area – it is also worth noting that this was William Shakespeare’s parish church for 15 years! Taking a look at the bell tower here offers no clue to the reputedly evil bell that hangs inside! The church currently holds three bells, taken from a church in Herefordshire. One of these bells was cast in the 15th century and has a terrible, evil reputation. The bell is known as Gabriel and it is said that Gabriel the bell is a messenger of death. The bell apparently had a reputation in its home town for ringing of its own accord any time a vicar in the town died.
Reportedly, just a year after the bell was brought from Avebury in Herefordshire here to St. Andrew’s, residents were awoken one night be the solitary ringing of Gabriel. On a breezeless night, the church was inspected and it was found to be fully locked with nobody inside. Then, the next morning, word reached parishioners that the vicar of Avenbury had died the previous night…
Come onto St. Andrew’s Hill and walk up to the junction with Carter Lane. Turn RIGHT onto Carter Lane and through the covered passage way into Wardrobe Place.
Stop 2 – Wardrobe Place
This tiny piece of Georgian London hidden away here is named after the King’s Wardrobe. From 1359 to 1666 the King’s Wardrobe, where all the King’s robes and fabrics were looked after and supplied to successive monarchs, stood on this site. The buildings here now are all Georgian and it is said that this tiny courtyard is also home to a resident spirit. People who work here in the dark hours have often reported seeing a woman dressed completely in white drifting through the courtyard, going from building to building. She seems to be wandering with no particular purpose and never acknowledges the figures of the living who are watching her go about her business. However, if the figure should turn and see that she is being watched, she will promptly disappear…
Exit Wardrobe Place and turn RIGHT. Take the first LEFT into Dean’s Court. On the left is the deanery.
Stop 3 – The Old Deanery
Built by Christopher Wren, this is the former residence of the Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral. It was widely thought to be a haunted house, despite the protestations of the previous Dean of St. Paul’s, Martin Sullivan, who resided here before his retirement in 1977. It was often said that various creaks clangs, moans and groans could be heard throughout the house with no earthly source. Martin attributed these noises to what is, essentially, just a very old house. But perhaps the most curious supernatural activity that occurred here surrounded a toilet roll holder! The toilet roll holder would move and go ‘wonky’ whenever anybody looked at it – except for Mr. Sullivan. For when Martin looked at the toilet roll holder, it would always right itself again!
Continue along Dean’s Court to the pedestrian crossing at Ludgate Hill. Make your way to the front of St. Paul’s Cathedral, near the statue of Queen Anne.
Stop 4 – St. Paul’s Cathedral
Having been a burial site for the last three centuries, it is no surprise that St. Paul’s Cathedral is believed to be haunted. And the ghost that reportedly haunts St. Paul’s is a noisy one – they call him “The Whistler.” It is said that near the Kitchener Chapel, on the left side of the cathedral, the air will go still and fall cold. A figure of an old man with billowing grey hair and old robes will walk past – but not silently. He will be whistling…and the whistle gets louder and louder until he vanishes into a stone wall. It is believed that there did, in fact, used to be a door where the stone wall now stands and perhaps The Whistler is the only person who still knows what awaits on the other side.
Head back to Ludgate Hill going WEST and then turn RIGHT on Ave Maria Lane. This road will turn into Warwick Lane. On the left you will come to Deadman’s Walk.
Stop 5 – Deadman’s Walk
With a name like Deadman’s Walk, you know this little alleyway has to have an interesting history! In centuries gone by this little pathway led to the infamous Newgate Prison and this was the path where prisoners sentenced to death were led to meet their grizzly fate.
Newgate prison also provided another well-known spectre in this part of town: the Black Dog of Newgate. This is one of the longest reported ghosts in all of London. It is said that in the middle ages, a terrible famine struck London. The prisoners of Newgate Prison were forced to turn to cannibalism to survive. One of the prisoners kept here during that time was a ‘known’ witch who had been imprisoned on accusation of casting spells. The prisoners decided to kill and eat this man, since, as a witch or sorcerer, he did not deserve to live.
However, those prisoners were said to regret their decision because within days of the prisoner’s consumption a large black dog appeared in the prisoners cells. The beast was larger than any regular dog, with eyes of fire and blood dripping from his mouth. This dog began to kill the prisoners that had eaten the witch and it is said the anguished screams of the terrified inmates echoed through the prison. It was said that some prisoners were so frightened of becoming a victim of the Black Dog that they killed their guards and escaped…but no matter how far they ran – the Dog always caught them. This legend survived over the centuries and it was said that the night before an execution was to take place at the prison, the Dog would always appear.
Although Newgate Prison was demolished in the early 20th century, the Black Dog of Newgate still haunts these streets. People walking here at night have reported seeing a large black shape, breathing heavily, stalking down along the walls before melting into nothingness.
But there are more ghosts here, haunting the old pathways of the most infamous prison in London. Jack Shepherd, a famous burglar who escaped from Newgate Prison THREE times – to the delight of the fascinated public – is said to haunt this street, seen running down the road and leaping over the wall, still escaping from this prison two centuries after his death.
One of the most famous inmates to have been kept at Newgate was Amelia Dyer, known in the Victorian age as the “Reading Baby Farmer.” She was a notorious criminal who had taken money from the government to look after unwanted babies – but she had actually killed each and every child she was supposed to be taking care of, all the while continuing to keep the money she was given month after month. The day she was executed, she came face to face with a young gaoler named Mr. Scott. As she was led past him she stopped walking, glared at him, smiled and the said, “I’ll meet you again someday, sir.” Although she was dead minutes later, her final words sensationalised Victorian society and were printed in newspapers all over the world.
But what of Mr. Scott? He continued to work at the prison and one evening, shortly before the prison was closed in 1902, while he was looking out of a window onto what is now known as Deadman’s Walk, he felt there was somebody behind him. When he turned, he was confronted with the face of Amelia Dyer, repeating the words “I’ll meet you again…” over and over. A few seconds later – she vanished. Could it be that she had waited all those years to pay a visit to Mr. Scott and took the last chance she had – shortly before the prison was closed? Many people think so…
Continue up Warwick Lane and turn RIGHT onto Newgate Street. Part way down this road is St. Paul’s Underground Station, where your walk ends.