Now that the nights are drawing in, and the mists of autumn are beginning to swirl, I have begun turning my attentions to things otherworldly.
I love a good ghost story, and, with Halloween rapidly approaching, I have been combing through the many tales I have collected over the years about London’s Haunted places.
I have made several videos about the supernatural hotspots around the capital
I recently made a video about the most haunted house in London – number 50 Berkeley Square – or 50 Berkeley Scare, as I like to call it!
When I began the video, my intention was to just make a chilling video that would recount some of the many horror stories associated with the property.
THE MOST HAUNTED HOUSE IN LONDON
One tale that has appeared in almost every book there has ever been on haunted London, is the tale of a maidservant who was either given the haunted room to sleep in, or else was sent up to put sheets on the bed in that particular room.
Either way, it didn’t end well for her because, in both versions, she was found in the room a gibbering wreck who never recovered her reason and so was unable to say what it was that she had seen that had affected her so.
Then there was the story about the fearless young man who opted to volunteered to spend a night in the dreaded chamber and who vowed to do battle with any supernatural entity that dared to show its face.
In the middle of the night he was found dead in bed, his eyes were wide open in terror, and, as one version of the story put it, “dead men tell no tales.
MY VIDEO ON 50 BERKELEY SQUARE
THE TWO SAILORS
One of the creepiest of the creepy tales about the house is the one about the two sailors who, desperate for a night’s shelter during the Christmas season, broke into the – then unoccupied house – and bedded down in the haunted room.
In the dead of night, they were woke by the sound of something coming up the stairs.
Suddenly the hideous entity entered the room and began to crawl towards them.
THE PASSING POLICEMAN
One sailor managed to get past it and escaped into the street, where he fainted on the front step of the house. Here he was found by a passing policeman who revived him.
Together they entered the house, but it was too late to save his mate, who was found in the haunted chamber – dead as a door nail, his eyes wide open in terror.
CREEPY GHOST STORIES
Although these are the three most common paranormal tales about fifty Berkeley Square, there are many, many more; and thus I set about researching the full history of the house for the video.
Delving deep into the history of the house, and of the spinechilling tales about it, I discovered that, although the stories have been appearing in the books on the ghosts of London since the 1870s – all the accounts of the hauntings do not stand up to close historical scrutiny.
Indeed, I traced the stories of the maidservant and the fearless young man to a short story by the Victorian novelist Rhoda Broughton, whereas the tale of the sailors, as far as I can tell, first appeared in a book by Robert Thurston Hopkins titled, “Cavalcade of Ghosts.”
NO INQUESTS REPORTED
I next combed the newspaper reports from the 1850s to the 1950s for any reports on inquests into people who had died inside the house.
Surprise, surprise, there were none!
Why does this matter?
Well, because if anyone had died in the house under the circumstances described in the stories, then an inquest into thjeir deaths would have had to be held.
So the fact that there were no inquests suggests that the deaths didn’t actually occur.
THE GREY GHOST BOOK
I finally turned to a book by Jessie Middleton, written in 1912, called “The Grey Ghost Book”, in which she interviewed the house’s then tenant the Countess of Selkirk.
Lady Selkirk was adamant that there were and never had been any ghosts at 50 Berkeley Square, and provided ample evidence to back up her claim.
RESOLVES INTO NOTHINGNESS
“So the mystery of Berkeley Square resolves itself into nothingness,” lamented Jessie Middleton at the end of her chapter on the house.
The Tatler, in its review of her book was beyond inconsolable:-
“That pet ghost story of our childhood – the haunted house in Berkeley Square – is exploded for all time. In fact, the house is still inhabited and looks as spick and span as a suburban villa.
So now the sole excitement of Berkeley Square has evaporated.”