Princes, patients and pilots: Ghost stories of east London
- Credit: Archant
If you are one of those people who hide behind the sofa when watching a horror film, east London may not be the place for you.
The boroughs certainly have their fair share of scary stories to tell, as we reveal this Halloween.
The Tower of London
When two small skeletons were unearthed under a staircase, it pointed to the mystery of the whereabouts of Princes Edward and Richard who disappeared in the Tower in the summer of 1483.
Throughout the centuries, frightened witnesses have described seeing two child-like figures dressed in nightgowns fearfully clinging to each other.
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The ghostly boys appear to whimper pitifully but when people reach out to them, they back away and slowly fade away.
Hanbury Street, Whitechapel
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The Whitechapel site where notorious serial killer Jack the Ripper carried out his second murder is said to be haunted by a headless apparition.
Annie Chapman’s body was found mutilated in the back yard of 29, Hanbury Street in the early hours of September 8, 1888.
In the 1930s, residents repeatedly claimed that they could hear Annie being murdered with one claiming to have heard an invisible woman gasping for breath and the sound of a knife swishing through the air.
The building was demolished in the 1970s to make way for the Truman Brewery.
The murder location became a store room with staff repeatedly seeing a headless apparition. The brewery’s boardroom is always said to be unusually cold each year on the morning of September 8.
Abbey Road, Stratford
The route that runs from the high point at West Ham Lane to the marshlands at Stratford was a popular journey through farmland for the Cisterian monks to walk to and from West Ham church. These monks were known as the “white monks” because of the colour of their habits.
The marshlands in the area around the abbey used to be in need of constant draining and the duty fell to the monks to do it.
There are tales of a white hooded figure who lingers in the area before suddenly disappearing into a tunnel. Perhaps it is a ghostly monk coming back to finish his work.
Claybury Hospital, Woodford Green
The former psychiatric institute, built in the late 19th century, was one of the notorious Victorian asylums for the mentally ill. It is believed by certain people that some former patients never left.
Martin Levin, a former radio presenter on hospital radio, has had an interest in paranormal activity for years.
He said: “People reported seeing apparitions and experienced weird goings-on, such as lights being turned on and off mysteriously.”
After Claybury was converted into the Gwynne Park estate, Mr Levin said that most of the early occupants “moved on within a year”.
Hornchurch Country Park
The park was built on the site of Hornchurch Airfield, a former RAF base during both world wars.
There have been reportings of ghostly figures in military uniforms, possibly linked to the history of the base.
Only three days after the declaration of war in 1939, three British pilots were guilty of a friendly fire incident in which one of their comrades was killed.
The incident, known as the Battle of Barking Creek, was a result of miscommunication and resulted in a criminal trial.
Perhaps the ghost is that of Montague Hulton-Harrop, the dead airman, looking for revenge on his former colleagues.
Valence House, Dagenham
The stately home, which served as the town hall until 1937, has a gruesome history.
A gardener reportedly saw the ghost of Agnes de Valence, a former resident, who died in 1309.
She is said to have been murdered on the lawns of the property with the murder weapon, a knife, dumped in the nearby moat at Valence Park.
Another ghost is that of Eliza Luxmore, the mother-in-law of Thomas May.
May was a Devon farmer and the last private resident of Valence House before it was sold to London County Council.
Eliza died in 1913 and her ghostly figure, small and dressed in black, is said to haunt the grounds of the house.