; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Thursday, August 18, 2011

London Hauntings & Spectres

Along with my passion for the paranormal and all things strange is my interest in Great Britain's history and mythology. I'm going to piece together many of the vintage tales and occasionally post these collections. Here is the link to the 1st post - British Monsters and Boogeymen. If you have a venerable narrative or anecdote that you'd like to share, please feel free to forward to me.

London's Phantom Hounds

A black hound was seen during the 1960s on the Wandsworth Road. Researchers attributed the form to the ghost of an animal killed on the road. The hound would often been seen disappearing into 523 Wandsworth Road. The haunting occurred for more than four months.

Similar harmless ghost dogs have been seen along the Thames. Phantom dogs are said to prowl a stairwell at Hampton Court, the Anchor Tavern on Bankside and the Spanish Galleon pub in Greenwich, which is apparently haunted by a large mastiff hound.

However, the lore of the black dog usually concerns more sinister beasts. At St Michael’s church, Cornhill (date unknown), a giant black hound appeared during a thunderstorm, entering via the south window, leaving claw marks scorched into the stone. A dog resembling a dachshund is said to haunt an area of Baker Street also.

But London’s most famous phantom hound is that which resides at the former Newgate Prison, a slithering, ominous spook which gives off a nauseating odor. Legend of the beast dates back to the reign of Henry III during a period of extreme famine when prisoners often fed upon one another. One victim of cannibalism, who was rumored to be a sorcerer, claimed vengeance upon the inmates when a frightful, red-eyed phantom hound materialized in the vicinity. According to legend, the evil beast ripped many of the felons limb from limb, its blood soaked jaws dripping onto the icy floor. Other prisoners simply died of fright, terrified of the oncoming sound of padded feet in the corridors.

The phantom hound was said to haunt the prison up until its demolition in 1902, yet sightings and strange odors are still reported, suggesting that this harbinger of doom is not confined to the dank annals of folkloric horror.

For some, black dogs are connected to dark deeds, appearing before a death or crisis whether in the form of extreme weather or disease. Many sightings occur on old roads, once believed to be ‘corpseways’ where funeral processions may have proceeded, and also near churchyards. Age old legends paint grim pictures of these beasts as the guardians of the gates of Hell. - paranormaldatabase.com


The Phantom Horses of Windsor Park

I've often been intrigued by reports of phantom animals, especially horses when they are seen to be leading a carriage through some misty back road of a night. What perplexes me most is the fact that if inanimate objects have no souls, then why should the coach appear alongside the horses? And, if the horses never died together or with the coach, then why should they appear coupled in the ethereal void? Have there ever been sightings of a stagecoach drawn by nothing, or spectral horses drawing an invisible carriage? It seems not.

The huge gates of Black Horse Yard, at Windsor, are situated on the main Windsor to London road, which is flanked by houses built during the eighteenth century. It is here that one particular apparition is said to appear, ominously before the death of a monarch. A ghostly coach, and horses, is said to roar from the shadows where an old inn used to stand, and gallops towards the Windsor Park gates at great speed. Of course, no-one knows where the procession goes because it often fades into the gloom of night before its destination.

Rumor has it that the phantom carriage, pulled by two magnificent black horses, also consists of a third ghost, that being of a royal physician who was tending to King Charles II before his death. Although no relatively modern sightings of the spectral coach have been reported, its last appearance certainly suggests that, as a spirit, it is indeed an omen of death, because it was Edward VII who appeared gravely ill the last time the manifestation took to the streets.

However, this leaves the researcher with many unanswered questions. Does the spectral coach, the horses and the ghostly physician display some kind of intelligence beyond the comprehension of science and understanding? Or is the spooky scenario simply a continuous playback, embedded in the fabric of time to forever play back when a tragedy is about to strike?

These type of hauntings may suggest a mere recording of a past event, but if so, how on Earth does an historical gaggle of ghosts know when someone is going to die?

Whatever your belief, these historical enigmas continue to operate outside of their own timeline suggesting something, possibly in the human brain, triggers their existence. - Phantoms and Monsters


The Ealing Horror

In the borough of Ealing, West London a photographer, keen to set up his own studio, moves into a half-derelict house. He brings with him his staff, who although slightly unnerved by the setting, settle in comfortably. Until that is, the noises start.

It wasn’t the studio that had such a hideous history, but it was the studio that succumbed to the activity. The peculiar noises coming from unoccupied rooms, the shifting of furniture when no-one was around, members of staff beginning to sense a presence, an unseen hand which tapped them on the shoulder or tugged at their garments, and those spectral voices from within the walls soon made this an awkward place to reside.

The photographer had a strong interest in the paranormal, as had many of his staff, and so, one evening, as darkness drew in, they decided to hold a seance, at least in the hope of communicating with some unknown form. To their delight, in some instances, they did indeed contact a spirit, but the eerie presence spoke of unrest in the neighboring building, a place that had seen much evil within its walls.

A lady and her very young child had been butchered in the property, and a man, belonging to one of the forces, was accused, found guilty and hanged for his crime. It was during this detail that the photographer began to feel sore around his neck, and felt that the spirit in contact with them was indeed the alleged murderer, and this was confirmed when the spectre pleaded its innocence.

Whether such an apparition was cast from the property we’ll never know, only persistent rumour or further experiences could shed some light on as to whether the property is still in turmoil. - ealinggazette.co.uk


The Faceless Phantom of Langmead Street

The puzzled police stationed outside the house in Langmead Street couldn’t find an answer. They couldn’t explain the strange buzzing noises heard by 26-year-old Cecil Greenfield. They couldn’t find a suspect to arrest for the weird banging noises which kept the family awake every night. The family of eight were tormented by an unseen assailant who dragged furniture about the West Norwood residence. And then, at 2:15am on a warm July night in 1951, Dennis and his wife Gladys got the shock of their life when they entered their home and were confronted by a tall, grey figure without a face.

Inspector Sidney Candler was extremely skeptical of the fiasco until he heard the thumping noises coming from the attic, and was unnerved as a picture flew from the wall and smashed on the floor. Cutlery seemed to rattle in the drawers.

The house attracted many locals, some simply intrigued by the local haunted house, others more skeptical who howled abuse at the residents, shouting “Get your heads examined!” Even the relatives of the family were embarrassed by the situation and refused to aid the troubled family.

Father Alfred Cole of St. Matthew’s Church was called in to exorcize the building. It was the last resort for the family who’d been plagued by the noises all day, and every night. A group from the Church of the Nazarene held a vigil throughout the night, deep in prayer in hope of cleansing the house of its evil. And yet the activity refused to subside. If anything it increased.

The radio turned on by itself. Peculiar lights whizzed across the living room. A mattress lifted up and appeared to bend, and poor Dennis was accosted by an invisible intruder who tore his shirt.

The family had reached the brink. They fled. They were not followed by the spectres within.

A couple with four children moved into the property, fully aware of its reputation. They were never troubled by the phantoms, and the house on Langmead Street returned to normal. - gothamist.com


Although the following narrative is not of a haunting or spectre, it depicts the fear in the streets of mid-late Victorian London:

London’s Garrotting Ghouls

London’s sinister folklore is peppered with tales of elusive killers, perverse slashers and stabbers, and all manner of peculiar assailants. These kinds of individuals, or groups, and their fiendish acts, often result in local panic and terror. Such creation of urban hysteria becomes legend. Take for instance the rumor that between 1856 and 1862, phantom garrotters were prowling the city streets.

These sadists were said to apprehend the victim, always from behind, bringing a forearm across the throat area of the prey. As the victim struggled, choking in horror, a vile companion would rob the accosted of all they owned. Victims never raised an alarm or pursued their attackers because this attack would often leave them semi-conscious.

In his fascinating book The London Monster, author Jan Bondeson writes: “…July 17, 1862, Mr Hugh Pilkington, M.P., was garrotted and relieved of his watch by two ruffians as he was walking from the House of Commons to the Reform Club.”

Of course, the fact that a leading citizen had been attacked by these mere rumored assailants, put the streets on high alert. Panic was in the air. Such sadists were perceived by the London press as some kind of inhuman race, said to lurk in the dingy shadows of dank alleyways, eager to feast upon their evil crimes, looting bodies as they lay almost choked to death.

Town folk brave enough to venture out after dark took to arming themselves with pistols and also home made weapons. Many believed that the garrotters were convicts who at the time were being released from prisons early for good behavior. If by some chance a garrotter was apprehended, there were immediate calls for the guilty to be hung or transported.

The spectral garrotters never truly existed but like so many other social panics, they emerged by way of society and its fears. Scaremongering emerged as local people feared the streets would become inhabited by criminals, released by overcrowded prisons. And as news spread about the liberal prison reforms, it was clear that any crime that hit the streets could be blamed on the alleged inadequacies of the prisons, as town folk boarded themselves in their homes for fear that London would be taken over by a multitude of stabbers, hackers, garrotters and repulsive rotters. - londonist.com