The clocks have gone back an hour over here in Great Britain, just in time for creepy ole’ Halloween to creep in and help us celebrate our new-found dark evenings. This time of year guarantees to be spooky as autumn ushers in the darkness and the monsters come out to play – it sure is a fun time to be alive! (Sorry zombies.)

Have you got your costume sorted? Have you carved your pumpkins? Have you practised your most convincing zombie walk and your best ghost stories? Hopefully you’re kitted out and ready to rock for the terrifying night of the ghouls and ghosties, but I’ve found myself a little uninspired this year with celebrations. Sure, I could neck blood-red punch and lurch around to ‘Monster Mash’ or fail horrifically at some costume competition, but I want to do something different. Something that will make my Halloween a bit more spooky; a bit more creepy; a bit more real. And what better way to do so than to actually explore the depraved and gruesome history of an incredibly old city… say, for example, London?

creepy london horror halloween ghost bus tour travelettes Fabio Venni

Every city in every country has hidden secrets of a haunted past, but how is one to know all these tales and legends without a little helping hand? Ghost bus tours and walking tours in the bustling city of London is a good way to get around and hear what went on in the dark streets back in the day. Also, if you’re on a bus you hardly have to move so for anyone who is a bit lazy or has a freshly healed broken foot (that’s me), it’s a great way to get spooky.

By day, London is a happy go-lucky, frantically busy, over-populated city where you never feel any kind of paranormal activity or even think of what you’re stepping on. You mainly focus on getting through the crowds and figuring out where the hell your tube station is! But when night descends and you get led around the city under a full moon, that’s when the goosebumps begin and you realise London’s grisly past is so thick and interesting.

ghost bus tour Rudi

Tortures, executions, overflowing cemeteries, the Great Fire of London, spirits with unfinished business, ghosts with malevolent tendencies; who knows what’s fact, fiction or folklore? Either way, it all makes a great story and you’ll leave with a few tales to tell around the campfire.

Since the Romans occupation, the city has been built and demolished over the centuries. It is now a solid 18 – 28 feet higher than it’s original streets so you can only imagine what’s buried beneath. Many landmarks hold dark pasts and historical events that you learn in a stuffy classroom have horrific realities that you don’t realise till you’re there in the darkness.

skulls london Pedro Figueiredo

Here are the top most haunted spots in London:

1. No. 10 Downing Street

…holds the British Prime Minister. Over the years, it has been considerably extended and altered as Prime Ministers take up residence. However, some have reported smelling the distinct odour of cigar smoke. The same cigar smoke that Winston Churchill puffed away on back in the 1940’s and 1950’s. A spectre in a long dress and pearls have also been seen haunting the Pillard Drawing Room which is used for official functions. Policemen on duty have heard ghostly footsteps around the building, however have not found a soul when investigating the suspicious sound.

2. The Tower of London

…has had many functions over the centuries… this includes a prison and a place of capital punishment. So you can only imagine the haunted reputation that it has developed. It is rumoured that the ghost of Ann Boleyn, one of King Henry VII’s wives, has been wandering… headless. She was beheaded by the King in 1536 and many have claimed to have seen the headless apparition in the grounds.
Lady Salisbury was executed in 1541 in a grisly fashion. She ran from her executioner in hysterics and he hacked her to death as he chased her. Rumours have it that she reenacts the bloody scene as a distressed ghost.

tower of london Sarah M

3. Highgate Cemetery

…in North London opened in 1839 and was the top place to be buried. It was an exclusive spot that was considered very fashionable to be laid to rest, and the likes of Karl Marx and Charles Dickens are there. However, The Highgate Vampire has been seen multiple times. It is described as a 7 foot tall man with glowing red eyes and a top hat. Sounds pretty humorous really, but not if your car breaks down and you come face-to-face with the ghoul by the cemetery’s iron gates. A shrouded figure has also been seen lurking in the grounds, but then vanishes as soon as it is approached. Eep.

highgate cemetary Tom Bennett

highgate cemetery 2 Tom Bennett

4. Cross Bones

Walk down Southwark Borough in South London and you’ll be in the vicinity of Cross Bones, the post-medieval disused cemetery. It was used to bury the bodies of those with ‘unsavoury’ occupations (ladies of the night, if you get what I mean) and holds up to 15,000 people. It got to the point where hands and feet were appearing at the surface, which pretty much meant it had to close. Pretty horrific. When the Jubilee Line of the tube was constructed, archaeologists were called to excavate the thousands of bodies that had been piled on top of each other. The tube workers found a putrid smell in the tunnels and mysterious noises and figures in the dim light during construction. After the discovery of the mass graves, a memorial garden was created and memorial vigil ceremonies are often held to honour these lives.

Anthony Abbott cross bones london

Amy Wharton cross bones london

5. The Langham Hotel

So many hotels in London are rumoured to be haunted. One includes The Langham Hotel. This luxury 5 star hotel has a distressing history as a Victorian Doctor murdered his wife there before committing suicide in Room 333. BBC journalist, James Alexander Gordon awoke one night to find himself face-to-face with the apparition… of course he ran for his life in terror! Many have claimed that they’ve awoken in Room 333 with the bed shaking, mainly in October. Anyone want to go there for a Halloween sleepover?

The Langham Hotel london wikipedia

6. Westminster Abbey

…is incredibly old with over 3,000 people buried on its grounds, making it a spooky place to wander at night. Many have witnessed gates opening and closing on their own accord, and the spirit of an unidentified soldier from World War I who was buried there has been seen to appear with head bowed, before disappearing. The ghost of Father Benedictus is a common sighting. He floats a little off the ground and is often seen in the evening around the cloisters. Some have even claimed to have spoken to him and not realised he wasn’t alive… until he melts into the wall.

kevinofsydney westminster abbey

7. The Viaduct Tavern

…is a majestic pub in Central London which stands proud and tall. The area it resides used to be the grounds of the old epic prison, Newgate Prison. Many public executions at the gallows went down there and years of tormented prisoners would of course equate to the basis of some good ole ghost stories: Supposedly, there are cells still in the cellar of the Viaduct Tavern, and once a bar maid went down to get supplies only to hear the door slam shut and lock from the inside. The lights went out and a hand stroked her hair before she bolted, scrambling at the lock and escaping. Although it is definite that the tavern was part of Newgate Prison, it isn’t confirmed that prisoners were kept down below ground… but I’m not going down there to check.

Ewan Munro The Viaduct Tavern

8. The Theatre of Drewry Lane

…retains the reputation of the most haunted theatre with numerous ghosts patrolling the building. The most famous ghost is ‘The Man in Grey’ who is dressed in 18th Century attire. He stalks the Upper Circle in the late evening and only attends fantastic shows. A skeleton with a knife in its ribcage was found in a wall cavity during refurbishments in the 1840’s, which many pin is the body of the grey man. An entire cast of a show witnessed this apparition at the same time, which is hard to explain (stage fright?)… Other paranormal occurrences include the ‘Helping Hand’ ghost who gently pushes actors into position and pats them on the back when they get a laugh. Other occurrences include people hearing their names being called and others having their trouser legs pulled. Hopefully these people aren’t trying to pull our legs with these stories.

sophie saint travelettes london halloween

9. Jack the Ripper

Of course, how could I neglect to relay some grotesque stories from London’s most notorious and gruesome killer of the 19th century. Jack the Ripper. Jack the Ripper is the nickname given to the murderer who prowled the impoverished London streets in 1888, preying on female prostitutes. They never discovered his identity, but his legend lives on as his acts were so brutal and he managed to slay so many. Folklore and media frenzy has built up Jack the Ripper, but the facts still stay strong and terrifying. A killer walked the streets of Whitechapel murdering the poor, and got away with it.

sophie saint travelettes london

Sightings of ghostly corpses have been witnessed in gutters in Greater London, and victim Annie Chapman has also been seen. She was murdered on Hanbury Street and now haunts this area, accompanied by another phantom. A mysterious man. She has also been witnessed as a headless apparition, walking the streets.
Another rumour has it that every New Year’s Eve, as the clock strikes midnight, the ghost of Jack throws himself off Westminster Bridge. A guilty doomed soul, or over active Londoners’ imaginations?

london bridge

Literally, the tales go on and on, but I fear I may have said too much already. The history of London is extensive, gruesome, harrowing and pretty perfect to read about on Hallow’s Eve. Whether you are morbidly curious about these stories or scared to find out more, one thing is for sure… You’ll never look at London in the same way again.

Happy Halloween, ladies.

 Image 1 Fabio Venni, image 2 Rudi, image 3 Pedro Figueiredo, image 4 via Sarah M, image 5 & 6 Tom Bennett, image 7 Anthony Abbott, image 8 Amy Wharton, image 9 Wikimedia, image 10 kevinofsydney, image 11 Ewan Munro, image 12 & 13 Sophie Saint, image 14



Sophie Saint was one of the original travelettes, from 2009 – 2017. After fleeing the UK with ink barely dry on her graduation certificate, she traversed the world with a backpack and spent a few years living in Melbourne – one of her favourite cities in the world.

She finally returned to the UK after a few years where she now whiles time away zipping off for European escapes, crocheting and daydreaming of owning her own hostel somewhere hot to live out eternal summers. See what she’s up to over on her blog and instagram: @saintsonaplane