October 30th, 2008


Haunted Holborn!

We had a great time at the Haunted Holborn walk yesterday - it was the highlight of my day (the part between 8 and 6, anyway). It was free, run by InHolborn.org, started at 1 and lasted 45 minutes. In that time, we visited:

The British Museum rail station! (Now a bank on the corner of High Holborn and the pedestrian extension to Barter street.) From this station there were mummy sightings, including reports of strange Egyptian voices and singing (not sure how people could tell). And even after the station was closed (to be condensed with Holborn), two women disappeared one night (in the twenties?) from the Holborn platform and were never seen again. Strange marks were found on the walls ... possibly from ... a mummy?

Next stop was Red Lion Square, home of the ghosts of Oliver Cromwell, Henry Ireton and John Bradshaw. Why, you might ask? Well, after Charles II came back to power, it was decided to punish the regicides, which meant their corpses were exhumed, put on trial, then hung, drawn and quartered. However ... between the trial and the trip to Tyburn, the corpses were kept overnight in the basement of the Red Lion Pub (which stands now, as it did, on the corner of High Holborn and Red Lion Street). The rumor is that they were spirited away by supporters and replaced with some other men's corpses, while Olly, Hank, and Johnny were taken to Red Lion Fields (as it was then) and given a more eternal rest. Except for the nights when three men in 16th century garb are seen walking across the park, deep in conversation ...

We then had a brief stop at a funky little alley we frequently use as a shortcut to get to Holborn Station. Little Turnstile was the home of a string of vicious murders in the 16th Century, so great that the public appealed to the king for relief. (Can you hear their screams at night? Or is it just the noise from the vodka bar?) And at the nearby Ship Tavern, Catholics once held secret services during the reign of Henry VIII - though supposedly two priests were caught and summarily executed in the basement of the pub. In addition to their ghosts, the pub also has a "happy ghost," who merely hides things mischeviously rather than, er, screaming as he is ... well, whatever happens to people who defy the king.

Speaking of which, the final stop was Lincoln's Inn Fields, where we went to gape at buildings 59-60. Though it is supposedly haunted by the ghost of a child who fell from the third floor to the basement through a service elevator ... and a "grey lady" who walks out of a bricked up door and then falls on the floor ("not sure how she made it into the building, there's no memory of such a death"), it also has bloodstains on the wooden floor from the corpse of Lord Russell, the wanna-be regicide who was decapitated in the middle of the square, right where the bandstand is today! This was all very exciting, and we got to go in the building and have a poke at the odd bit in the floor, though there was no exciting "sudden drop to freezing" inside the building - no, that happened once we walked back out into the frigid London air!

Anyway, this was a terribly fun time and it made the neighborhood come much more alive for us. It's being repeated at 1 tomorrow and I highly recommend it! Look for the zombie in the florescent yellow jacket standing in front of the information booth - you can't miss it.