London's Most Haunted Houses
The Queen's House. Romney Road. Greenwich. SE10.
Ghosts On Film?
Designed by Inigo Jones (1573-1652) for Charles 1st’s wife, Henrietta Maria, the Queen’s House was completed in 1635 and is one of Greenwich’s most elegant and graceful buildings.
In 1966, the Reverend and Mrs R.W. Hardy, from White Rock, British Columbia, visited the house and took a photograph of its magnificent Tulip staircase. When they returned home and developed the film, a shrouded figure was clearly visible on this particular picture.
Closer inspection revealed what appeared to be two figures, apparently ascending what had certainly been an empty staircase. Despite rigorous examination by photographic experts no rational explanation has ever been put forward to explain the presence of the figures, other than that they must have been there when the picture was taken.
Sutton House. 2 - 4 Homerton High Street. E9.
Howling Hounds and Shimmering Wraiths.
The splendid red-brick Sutton House, was built in 1535 by Sir Ralph Sadleir, one of Henry V111’s Privy Councillors. Since then it has been home to merchants, Huguenot silk-weavers, Victorian schoolmistresses and Edwardian clergy.
By the 1980’s, however, the building had fallen into disrepair, its decline aided by squatters and vandals.
But thankfully, due largely to the efforts of the Sutton House Community Scheme, the building was restored in the early 1990’s and is now open to the public under the auspices of the National Trust.
Although it has, inevitably, been altered over the years, it still remains essentially a Tudor house, and its oak-panelled walls, grand staircase and carved fireplaces are reminiscent of a bygone age.
Needless to say, several ghosts wander its atmospheric interior. Dogs are heard wailing from the empty house in the dead of night. They are thought to be the dogs that belonged to John Machell, a wealthy wool merchant who lived at Sutton House from 1550 to 1558. The dogs can still be seen in the coat of arms in the fireplace of the buildings Little Chamber. Whenever dogs are brought into Sutton House, they often stop rigid at the foot of the painted staircase, their hackles raised, apparently transfixed by something they can see on the stairs but which remains invisible to humans.
Another ghost is that of the White Lady, thought to be Frances, the wife of John Machell the younger. She died giving birth to twins on May 11th 1574, and her shimmering shade has been seen gliding around the old rooms of the building. During the 1990’s renovation of the property and architectural student, staying at the house, woke up in what is now the exhibition room, to find a lady in a blue dress, hovering over his bed. A house steward recently encountered this same spectre, when she rudely interrupted his slumbers by violently shaking his bed in the dead of night.
Sudden drops in temperature, doors that open of their own volition and objects flung across rooms by unseen hands, are just some of the other phenomena to be regularly encountered at this atmospheric old time capsule.
Handel’s House Museum. 25 Brook Street. Mayfair. W1.
The Female Entity That Came to Stay.
George Frideric Handel was thirty-eight years old when, in the summer of 1723, he moved into the newly built house at what is now 25 Brook Street. He lived there for thirty- six years, and died in the upstairs bedroom in 1759.
In 2000, the upper storeys of the building were leased to the Handel House Trust and on 8th November 2001 “Handel’s spirit was brought back…when the Handel House Museum opened to the public.”
However, during the restoration project, it was reported that a spirit of a very ethereal kind was haunting the building, and, in July 2001, the Handel House Trust went as far as to call upon the services of a local priest, to see if he could lay the ghost that had been seen by at least two people. “We weren’t sure whether having a ghost would attract or deter customers,” commented Martin Egglestone, a trust fundraiser, who twice encountered the apparition in the room where Handel died. In June 2001, he was helping measure up for some curtains when “suddenly the got very thick.” The next moment, a shape that resembled “the imprint on the back of your retina when you close your eyes, having been looking at the sun for too long” appeared before him.
Mr Egglestone described the apparition as being female and slightly higher than him. He observed that “There was no malevolent feeling. It felt like the pressure you get when you brush past someone in the Tube and they are too close to you.”
Staff also reported the strong, lingering scent of perfume hanging in the air of the bedroom. Although Handel lived alone, sharing his home only with his manservant, he was visited here by two sopranos, Faustina Bordoni and Francesca Cuzzoni, who vied with each other to perform in his operas, and Mr Egglestone raised the possibility that the ghost might be one of them.
Interestingly, the upper storeys of 23 next door, which are now part of the museum and used for changing exhibitions, was the home of rock legend Jimi Hendrix, from 1968-9. He also claimed to have seen a ghost on the premises whilst he lived there.
Commenting on the most recent haunting a local priest told the Daily Telegraph “This is a soul who is restless and not at home. I don’t see it as evil or horrible and one should help it to be at peace.”