Is something watching you?
According to time-honoured legend, Halloween is the time of year when you are most likely to experience a brush with the paranormal and meet some of the ghouls, ghosts and assorted unquiet spirits with which London is said to be teeming.
To help Londoners stay clear of spooks and negotiate their way through the capital's ghostly streets, below is selection of some of the wierd, sad and downright scary incidents experienced by London residents over the years.
The Bank of England is reputedly haunted - and not only by the continual bad news about the UK economy. In fact the ghostly presence of a woman is said to haunt the building in Threadneedle Street.
Known as the 'Bank nun,' the apparition is said to be to be the spirit of a woman who obsessively attended the building each day, after her brother was hanged for forgery while employed there.
Meanwhile, at the Bow Bells Pub in Mile End Road, one mischievous ghoul is reputed to haunted the ladies toilets - pulling the flush chain while customers use the facilities. A séance held in 1974 saw some dramatic results - when a request for the spirit to announce its presence was followed by the loo door opening so violently that the glass shattered. If you're in there, watch out for a tell-tale mist which means the supernatural presence is close.
A musical presence is said to haunt a house in which composer Handel used to live in plush Mayfair. The space is today a museum to the man who wrote Messiah, but tourists are not the only visitors, say reports. In 2001, a priest was called in by the Handel Trust, following reports of a tall, dark female apparition. Witnesses have also reported a strong waft of perfume at the scene, leading some to speculate that the apparition is the ghost of a female soprano singer who once shared the house with Handel.
For a genuine slice of gothic creepiness, Highgate cemetery in north London is hard to beat. The overgrown Victorian boneyard is full of weeping angel statues and mausoleums. Halloween would be the ideal time for one of the doors to the aging tombs to creak open and scare the pants off any amateur ghosthunters.
One terrifying spectre reportedly residing there is that of a red-eyed monster behind some wrought iron ghosts. Additionally, in nearby Swain's Lane a man claimed he was floored by a creature, which mysteriously dematerialised when a car drove by the scene. These reports triggered a media frenzy and a vampire hunt was mounted. However, despite their efforts, the Count Dracula of Highgate was never found.
Elsewhere in the capital city, an 'imp' is said to haunt Barnes cemetery - rated by visitors as an incredibly eerie place. In 1837, a man was sent fleeing when a repulsive creature jumped over some railings. The man was filled with terror at the sight of its glowing eyes, huge nose and pointed eyes and bolted. More attacks were reported at the scene in the following months.
A city like London is full to the brim with tales of presences who have crossed from the Other Side. Halloween is traditionally the last chance spirits of the recently deceased have to wreak vengeance on their enemies, before taking that one-way trip on the grim ferryman's boat to Hell. So if you do go out in search of creepy encounters tonight, don't forget your proton pack.
With thanks to Haunted London, by Richard Jones.
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