Haunted Belgravia and Chelsea
I've mentioned before that at Christmas I bought my wife a book called "Walking Haunted London" by Richard Jones (who kindly posted a comment on one of my ghost walk commentaries), hoping we could learn more about London, and maybe capture a spooky experience at the same time. It also turns out that most of the haunted locations in London seem to be pubs, so it is quite a pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
This weekend we did the walk called Haunted Belgravia and Chelsea. Like the Cockfosters and Enfield walk in the book it is one where the reported hauntings are quite spread out, so Richard Jones leaves you to plot your own route. We opted to start at Victoria, and after side-stepping a plethora of newly-armed police, and struggling to gather our bearings, we headed off in search of Easton Place.
We were looking for a house where the owner, a navy admiral, had appeared as a ghostly visitation during a party at the very moment his ship sank off the coast of Syria. However, with our rudimentary map and grasp of our surroundings we didn't quite locate it, being confused at one point by the fact that every road as far as the eye could see was called Easton Square. We did however go past Eccleston Street, which as a Doctor Who fan gave me an obvious photo opportunity.
Our walk then took us quite some way until our next haunted encounter - going through Sloane Square, passed the barracks up to Chelsea Bridge, and then along Chelsea Embankment until we reached Albert Bridge. A little way back from the Thames is "Cheyne Walk", and here there are two ghostly locations.
One is a house with a blue plaque dedicated to novelist George Elliot. In fact she only lived there 19 days before passing away, and at the same time projecting a reproving vision of herself to a novelist friend who had failed to visit her. The other location is a small restaurant which used to be a haunted pub.
We then went back to Sloane Square, this time via the Kings Road. My wife had never visited the Kings Road before, and was quite disappointed. Rather like Carnaby Street, it is, I think, a London street with a reputation for great shopping that far exceeds the present incarnation of high street names and coffee franchises.
As we got nearer to Knightsbridge our next location was the Cadogan Hotel, reputedly haunted by a former Royal mistress. From the outside the hotel itself looks as if it has fallen onto slightly hard times, with the majority of the downstairs of the property given over to a fashion boutique, although the website suggests otherwise.
As we headed towards Hyde Park Corner we ducked into a side-street looking for The Grenadier pub. It is well hidden away, tucked in a narrow private cobbled road. The pub was lovely, but very small. It was standing room only at the tiny bar, which was a disappointment after our long walk. We ended up sitting on a bench outside, which didn't really give us a chance to soak up the atmosphere for any sign of spiritual beings. We'd also planned to have a pub lunch there, but found the menu to be a little out of price range, so gave it a miss. The menu looked lovely though, with the top selection being a Steak, Ale and Oyster Pie.
The last point of the trip was Apsley House, where an apparition of Oliver Cromwell apparently changed the course of British History by appearing to the Duke of Wellington at the time of the Reform Bill in 1832. Rather like Dick Turpin, Cromwell has a very busy ghost around London - it must have been his night off from patrolling Red Lion Square.
The walk would have finished nicely at Hyde Park Corner station, but due to the terrorist bombings of the Underground on 7th July the Piccadilly line is still not running a through service, so we hopped on a bus to Oxford Circus to finish our journey.
As the walks go, I think this has been the least impressive of the journeys we've made so far - there was an awful lot of walking, and very little haunting.
I visited Apsley house with my then girlfriend in 1997. We sensed a spirit up in the drawing room (the first room you enter from the stairway)as soon as we entered. Although my girlfriend didn't believe in ghosts and the like, she felt someone standing and glaring at us from the middle of the room - I didn't tell her that I sensed the same thing until I saw her looking in that direction with a perturbed look on her face.
Anyway, I went back on my own after touring the house and stood in the doorway quietly for a while to see if anything would happen. I suddenly felt someone "show" themselves to me. I physically felt taller, I felt hunched over slightly, as if with age, and I felt that I was the type of person that if I said to do something, you did it - no questions asked. I strongly felt that it was the 1st Duke of Wellingon and that he was a bit put out by people walking around his house - not angry, just a bit annoyed. Interestingly, when I got home, I saw a picture of the duke in a book with a caption saying he was "stooped in old age" - a fact I hadn't know when at Apsley.
This wasn't a scary experience - it felt like the feeling you get when someone is standing near you when you have your eyes closed.
Thought I'd share that.