Pond Square. Highgate. N6

The Ghostly Chicken.

Pond Square. Highgate. N6. The Ghostly Chicken. Although the water source from which its name derives was filled in in 1864, Pond Square does have a certain charm. Massive Plane trees cast long shadows across the asphalt, and the chance of an encounter with one of London’s most unusual spectres certainly enhances its ambience.

Sir Francis Bacon, (1561-1626) was a politician, writer and philosopher who also dabbled in scientific experiments. He was one of the first people to propagate the theory that refrigeration might be utilised # as a means of preserving meat.

One bitterly cold morning in January 1626, whilst in the company of his good friend Dr Winterbourne, Bacon decided to put his theory to the test by purchasing a chicken from an old woman on Highgate Hill. Having slaughtered and plucked it, he stuffed its carcass with snow.

By a deliciously ironic twist of fatal justice, Sir Francis Bacon caught a severe chill as a result of his experiment. He was taken to nearby Arundel House where he was placed in a damp bed, and he died a short time afterwards.

Ever since, there have been frequent reports of a phantom white bird, resembling a plucked chicken, that appears from nowhere to race round the square in frenzied circles, flapping its wings as it goes.

In 1943, one Terence Long was crossing Pond Square late at night when he heard the sound of horses hooves accompanied by the low rumble of carriage wheels. Suddenly, a loud raucous shriek, split the silence, and the ghostly chicken appeared before him and proceeded to race frantically around, before vanishing into thin air.

In the 1960’s a motorist whose car had broken down encountered the same apparition, as did a courting couple in the 1970’s, when it interrupted their passionate by dropping suddenly from above and landing next to them!

In recent years, however, sighting of the featherless phantom have been few and far between. Indeed, it might just be possible that its restless spirit has finally accepted the indecency of its demise, and the scientific principle for which it gave its life!