By Dawn Emery
Drink an alcoholic spirit while encountering a ghostly one. Here are seven historic London pubs that have may give you the chills…
A former officers’ mess in Belgrave Square, The Grenadier is said to be one of the most haunted pubs in London. Legend has it that one cold night in September 1818, a young grenadier cheated at a game of cards. His furious fellow soldiers beat him to death, and “Cedric” still haunts the pub. The ceiling of the pub is covered in currency from around the world, as visitors believed it was a way of paying off Cedric’s debt. The pub was also visited by the Duke of Wellington and King George IV, while modern day clientele have included Prince William and Madonna.
THE VIADUCT TAVERN
Situated opposite the Old Bailey, The Viaduct Tavern is the last example of a late Victorian gin palace in the City of London and is said to have a resident poltergeist, as well as the ghost of a murdered prostitute on the upper floors. The poltergeist is alleged to shut doors, switch lights off in the ladies’ toilets, and take customers’ drinks when they’re not looking (if you fancy your friend’s drink, you can always blame it on a ghost). The pub was built in 1875 above the cells of an old remand prison, which could explain some of the spooky activity. The cells are now the pub cellar and if you ask a bartender they may let you take a look.
THE FLASK, HIGHGATE
Situated close to Highgate cemetery, the main part of The Flask dates back to the 1720s – the original shutter-window bar is still intact. The pub was named after the flasks that were sold here to collect water from nearby springs. The resident ghosts are said to include a Spanish barmaid who hanged herself in the pub’s cellar (now a seating area), after a doomed romance with the landlord. The pub’s temperature is said to dramatically drop when this ghost is around. She’s also said to move glasses, blow down the back of customers’ necks and cause lights to mysteriously sway. A soldier in a Cavalier uniform has also been seen crossing the main room and disappearing into a pillar.
THE SPANIARDS INN, HAMPSTEAD
Legendary highwayman Dick Turpin was believed to frequent the Spaniards Inn, Hampstead, where his father was the landlord. Dick reportedly hid out in the inn, or used it as a base to look out for coaches to rob, and now his ghost is said to haunt the upstairs rooms. The downstairs is allegedly haunted by the ghost of “Black Dick”, a moneylender who was run over a killed by a horse outside the pub. The ghost of Juan Porero is also said to hang around – Juan and his brother Francesco owned the Inn for a while, hence the name. The siblings fell in love with the same woman, decided to settle it with a duel, and Juan was the one who lost. The 16th century Inn is one of London’s oldest pubs and is mentioned in Charles Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers and Bram Stocker’s Dracula (Bram used a ghost story from the Spaniards’ Inn in his novel). John Keats wrote Ode to a Nightingale in the pub’s gardens.
THE HOOP AND TOY, KENSINGTON
The oldest established pub in South Kensington, the Hoop and Grapes was reportedly built above the tombs of priests. These religious souls rested there quite peacefully until the nearby tube stations were being built. The building work allegedly interrupted the ghosts’ route to the churches of London, and now they’re said to move up and down the pub’s stairs trying to find an alternative way out. The 18th century pub, situated on Thurloe Place, has also welcomed film stars and royalty including Kings George III and George IV.
THE TEN BELLS, SPITALFIELDS
Best known for its association with Jack the Ripper, the Ten Bells pub was reportedly frequented by three of his victims, Elizabeth Stride, Mary Kelly and Annie Chapman. It’s been claimed that the pub is haunted by the ghost of Annie, who was drinking here hours before she was murdered. Other spooky encounters have included other the ghost of old man dressed in Victorian clothing, and the sounds of phantom footsteps and laughter.
THE SUTTON ARMS, BARBICAN
The red-headed ghost at The Sutton Arms is a friendly one at least. Named Charlie and sporting red hair and “old-fashioned dress”, he’s allegedly been spotted sitting casually in the corner of the bar. He apparently once appeared between two women who were having a lunchtime drink, before he smiled and disappeared. Then in October 1987 when a friend of the then landlord was staying in a room above the pub, Charlie appeared in a reflection in the mirror, and again gave a broad smile.