On the build up to Halloween in London with my now husband, I knew I had to do something to wow him. We had exhausted the widely known tourist attractions such as the London Dungeon, and didn’t want to settle for the usual drunk in a fancy dress costume that Halloween usually entails.
You see, London is the perfect place to spend Halloween. From it’s gory history and historical landmarks, to it’s haunted buildings and Jack the Ripper tours, there is a whole layer of spooky right underneath the surface. So I decided to delve into google and find some actual haunted places and gothic bars to visit – all as a surprise for my unsuspecting victim.
The 9 spooky destinations are all accessible using public transport (tube and buses) and are within a reasonable distance of each other. If you choose to use this as an itinerary, the order makes sense geographically, ending with the organised tour and a drink afterwards. I use the City Mapper app to get around.
This is your London Halloween itinerary for having a truly historical and spooky Halloween, written and test-run by yours truly…(and yes, it was quite scary).
Spooky Destination 1: Learn About Witchcraft And Black Magic At The Atlantis Bookshop
This bookshop in Bloomsbury is not only really cute and very Instagram worthy, but it is also said to be haunted by the shop’s original owner, Michael Houghton. It was founded in 1922, specialising in books on magic, ghosts and spiritualism. It’s current owners claim to have seen his tall figure dressed in grey clothing, walking towards the back door. There were a few odd looking people in the store, but I don’t think any of them were from another dimension. There were however a lot of very interesting books that did capture my attention.
Getting there: 49a Museum Street, WC1A 1LY. Nearest Tube: Tottenham Court Road
Spooky Destination 2: Visit The Most Haunted House In London
Rumour has it that 50 Berkeley Square has been known as the most haunted house in London since Victorian times. Over the years, several deaths have actually been attributed to in this townhouse, and the attic bedroom is supposedly haunted by a spirit of a young woman who committed suicide there.
- From 1770 to 1827 it was the home of British Prime Minister George Canning, and the first ghostly happenings were reported by him. He claimed to have heard strange noises and have experienced psychic phenomena whilst living there.
- After George Canning, the house was bought by a Mr. Myers who was jilted at the altar and became a recluse, only leaving the tiny attic bedroom at night to walk by candlelight and is said to have gone mad.
- Following his death, there have been many more strange deaths associated with the house. These include the death of a maidservant, and of Captain Kentfield who was found dead with his face twisted in terror having tried to spend a night in the attic room.
- In 1887, two sailors from HMS Penelope broke into the empty house and one was said to have died in rather mysterious circumstances shortly afterwards, and the other claims to have seen the ghost of Mr. Myers, approaching them aggressively in the night.
- Since 1938, the building has been occupied by Maggs Bros, an antiquarian book dealer. No phenomena have been reported since but the haunted happenings remain very much a mystery.
For a haunting read…
“The Haunted and the Haunters” by Lord Lytton is based on the spooky happenings at 50 Berkeley Square!
Getting there: 50 Berkeley Square, Mayfair, W1J 5BA. Nearest Tube: Green Park
Spooky Destination 3: Explore Gory Royal History In The Tower Of London
London’s iconic Tower of London was founded in 1066 as a prison for those who had committed treason or fallen from favour. Punishment was harsh, and prisoners were tortured behind those great walls that modern Londoners walk past on a daily basis. And the most well-known prisoners, Anne Boleyn and Lady Jane Grey, were beheaded within the tower walls.
Look out for…
In their despair, prisoners inscribed illustrations and graffiti on to the tower walls which are still visible today. Grim, but see if you can spot:
- “There is a time for all things… and the day of death is better than the day of birth.” By William Rame on April 2 1559.
- “As virtue maketh life, so sin causeth death.” By Thomas Bawdewin in 1585.
- The memorial marking the spot where executions took place.
Getting there: London EC3N 4AB
Spooky Destination 4: Drink In An Original Victorian Gin Palace
The Princess Louise in Holburn is a Grade II-Listed pub. Built in 1872, it is named after Queen Victoria’s fourth daughter, Princess Louise, and is one of the finest remaining examples of a Victorian Gin Palace in London today. The pub has a beautiful interior dating from the 19th century with tiling by W.B. Simpson of Clapham. A gorgeous place, and being a Sam Smith’s drinks are cheap! Definitely worth a visit!
Getting there: 208-209 High Holborn, WC1V 7BW. Nearest Tubes: Holborn, Covent Garden
Spooky Destination 5: Visit The Bleeding Heart Yard
This is the most haunted square in London! Legend has it that Londoner Lady Hatton sold her soul to the devil and eventually a hooded figure showed up to her Annual Winter Ball to call in the debt. She was said to be led out of the square as a piercing scream was heard. Her body was later found torn limb from limb, and her heart was said to be still pumping blood out into the yard. I can verify that the yard feels quite normal in the day time, and is now home to quite a lovely little bistro, Bleeding Heart. Either way, maybe skip visiting this one in darkness just in case, unless of course you’ve had a few strong ones.
Getting there: The yard is just off Grenville Street, EC1N 8SJ. Nearest Tube: Farringdon
Spooky Destination 6: Have drinks at the nearby pub The Rising Sun
I had major chills in this place (and a nice Gin and Tonic!) One of London’s most haunted pubs; legend has it that Victorian body snatchers once drank in the Rising Sun before going on bodysnatching raids to nearby St Bartholomew’s Hospital. But it doesn’t stop there: some say that they would drug pub regulars and and later murder them to sell their bodies to the hospital for medical research!
Various ghosts are said to haunt the premises and a nearby plague pit, with employees who lived above the pub reportedly feeling their duvets being pulled off them in the night!
When I visited this pub I felt a really eerie presence on the stairs and on the landing, and when I read up on it afterwards apparently other people have felt this too.
Getting there: 38 Cloth Fair, EC1A 7JQ. Nearest Tube: Farringdon
Spooky Destination 7: Take A Guided Tour Around the Streets Of East London On A Jack The Ripper Tour
Jack the Ripper is London’s most notorious serial killer. Take a tour around the East-End retracing his footsteps and see if you can figure out who the unknown murderer was. Every year it seems a new suspect gets thrown into the mix: A royal prince, a failed barrister, a polish Jew, the boyfriend of one of the victims, and even a mad doctor are suspects. The fact is, Jack the Ripper’s identity will remain forever hidden in the shadows of the Victorian night.
Halloween is the busiest night of the year for the Jack the Ripper tour, (surprise surprise!) but they run all year round. As you can imagine there are several companies that do the tours, but I recommend The Jack the Ripper Tour which we used. Our guide was really great, and she uses a handheld projector to show images on the walls of the buildings throughout the tour, making it much more interactive.
Getting there: The tour meets at Algate East Station, exit 3.
Spooky Destination 8: Follow The Tour With A Drink In The Ten Bells
As recommended by the tour guide, the perfect ending to the tour is with a drink in the notorious East-End pub, the Ten Bells. It is widely known for its association with the Jack the Ripper murders. One of the victims, Annie Chapman, was said to have drunk at the pub shortly before she was murdered and it has been suggested that the pavement outside of the pub was where another victim, Mary Kelly, picked up clients.
Don’t mention your interest in the famous ripper when you are in the pub! The current residents don’t take kindly to the association.
Getting there: 18 Wilton Row, SW1X 7NR. Nearest Tubes: Hyde Park Corner, Knightsbridge, Victoria
Spooky Destination 9: Finish The Night With A Drink In London’s Most Haunted Pub
The Grenadier in Belgravia is said to be London’s most haunted pub. Situated on a private mews, the pub was used as an officers’ mess during the Napoleonic Wars. The cellar was used as a drinking and gambling den for the lower-ranking soldiers. Legend has it a card-playing junior soldier was beaten to death and subsequently returned to haunt the establishment.
Customers have reported chills in the bar, and one former policeman reported seeing a cigar smoking itself in mid-air beside him! A crucifix has now been installed cellar to ward off bad spirits, but despite this they continue to be reported. Order a strong drink and brave the cellar if you dare!
Getting there: 18 Wilton Row, London SW1X 7NR