Having rediscovered our ghost-hunting form, we continued our jaunt around haunted London.
The last couple of posts about churches may have been fairly interesting (mainly to us, we suspect) but were they really that scary? No. Standing atop a mound of buried bodies at Priory Church was fairly unsettling, but we wanted more than that. We wanted to soil ourselves with frightened glee.
With this in mind, our next stop would surely not disappoint; the most haunted house in London. Yes, you read that correctly – do not adjust your eyes. We really were going to the most haunted house. In London.
Arriving at 50 Berkeley Square on a drizzly Sunday afternoon, we were initially quite underwhelmed. On the face of it, it was just a normal house in snooty Mayfair. We couldn’t even go inside.
But the stories about this place are plentiful, each one more horrifying than the last.
In the late 19th Century, a nobleman apparently unconvinced by the ghoulish stories associated with the place agreed to spend a night alone in the most haunted room in the house. It was arranged that if he encountered any trouble he would ring the servant’s bell and his friends downstairs would come to the rescue.
Sometime around midnight they heard a faint ringing of the bell, which got louder and louder until it was almost deafening. By the time they had got upstairs and burst into the room, their disbelieving companion was sprawled on the floor with his face contorted in horror, eyes almost bulging from their sockets. He couldn’t speak to explain what filled him with such fright, but he was dead within the hour.
Blimey, if this place has got it in for cynics then we could be in serious trouble.
Understandably, 50 Berkeley Square was uninhabited for a long while after this with seemingly no one in London brave enough to house-share with a violent ghost.
Standing empty, the house still attracted reports of strange lights flickering in the windows, “disembodied screams” and, perhaps most chilling of all, the sound of a body being dragged down the stairs.
Eventually, two drunken sailors on shore leave stumbled upon the vacant house and, needing a dry place to rest, decided to break in. Not long after bedding down for the night they were awoken by heavy footsteps creeping up the wooden stairs, before a “hideous, shapeless, oozing mass” (no, not Chris Moyles) began to fill the room. One sailor managed to escape, but when he returned to the house with a policeman found his friend impaled on the metal railings outside the house with his face frozen with the familiar look of terror.
Fascinating stories but sadly, we suspect, stories nonetheless.
Why the house is haunted, no one knows. Theories range from the romantic (a jilted lover lived his remaining days in the house wandering around by candle light before, heartbroken, he took his own life) to the macabre (a Doctor locked his violent, lunatic brother in the attic until he died).
Whatever the reason, the house is famous amongst paranormal investigators for having a sinister and disturbing atmosphere, which is about as far away from scientific proof as it’s possible to get.
We noticed no such atmosphere and, despite pressing our faces against the front door, we noticed no significant feeling of despair or woe. No more than we normally carry, anyhow.
To contemplate our visit, Looking For Ghosts headed to Guy Ritchie’s nearby Punchbowl for a couple of ales where we encountered, no lie, an aging Clint Eastwood enjoying a meal with his family. By far the closest we’ve come to seeing a ghost so far.