Did you know that London is a hotbed of haunted pubs, rife with ghosts and paranormal carryings-on? Well now you do. Read on…
A rock ‘n’ roll boozer in a Dickensian setting, Filthy McNastys is a grungy haunt – literally.
Once the convening site of gun-wielding bruisers – bullet holes in the roof substantiate this, the death of the landlord’s wife who jumped from the third floor a century ago is also written into the pub’s folklore.
“The consensus is that she’s the spirit lurking around,” says Nic Lloyd, a former glassy. “There’s a particular corner of the bar where she’s quite active, and that’s where three of us saw this amorphous blob once – a flash of beige flitted across the room. Then a door suddenly slammed so powerfully that we felt the tremor.”
Fortunately, Lloyd escaped the full brunt of this ghost’s agitation, unlike his manager who was thrown down the stairs, breaking her foot.
“She took a hefty shove in the back and it forced her over the bannister, but there was absolutely no one there.”
» Amwell Street, EC1R 1UU Angel
The Viaduct Tavern
The last example of a late Victorian gin palace in the City of London, a restless spirit is said to lurk in the cellars of the Viaduct Tavern, frightening the bejesus out of staff who have to venture down to replenish stocks – the manager will let you tag along if you’ve got the guts.
According to haunted-London.com, two electricians had rolled up some carpet to work beneath the floorboards, only to see it hover in the air and drop to the ground.
» Newgate Street, EC1A 7AA St Pauls
The Bow Bell’s resident ghost thinks it’s funny to flush the toilet in the ladies bathroom while someone is sitting on it.
In 1974, the landlord tried to flush out the phantom for good with a séance and as the sitters gathered round, the toilet door swung violently open, smashing a glass pane.
Successive landlords have since grown used to sharing their pub with the ghostly lurker, who also appears as a translucent mist rising from the floor of the bar.
» Bow Road, E3 3AA Bow Road
James Thompson, the poet who wrote Rule Britannia is a consistent otherworldly punter at the Dove. Before a kitchen fire tore through the popular riverside pub last year there were plenty more, says publican Garry Wood, who interacts with his spirited friends.
“There’s a young girl, about eight or nine, and she’s a bit mischievous – turning the beer taps on, knocking things over. I see her about once a month and it sounds crazy, but I do talk to her when I’m here on my own.”
The child is believed to be one of the girls who would clean horse manure from the streets in the 18th century.
Thompson often penned his prose in the pub, said to be the last place he drank before dying of hypothermia on his way to Kew across the river.
Wearing a top hat and a big black cape, Thompson has been known to turn the gas fires on and move objects about. He is such a fixture that regular punters barely flinch at the sight of him.
» Upper Mall, W6 9TA Ravenscourt Park (fullers.co.uk)
How to talk to a ghost
Having weeded out the dross from paranormal nut jobs and dismantled questionable advice from ouija board-wonky tonks, this writer, a rookie, but with a finely tuned sixth sense has this advice: ghosts usually manifest in a quiet, uncrowded space, i.e. not the Walkabout.
If you listen very carefully, you may hear a voice, but to solicit a response make simple instructions, such as, “If you are here, knock one time”. If the spirit replies, follow with “Knock once if you’re male and twice if you’re female”. Still need convincing? Ask the ghost to move a small object, such as paper.
Warning: be sceptical of information given by a ghost. They were people once, and people can be full of shit.
Words: Rebecca Kent