50 Berkeley Square

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50 Berkeley Square is a reportedly haunted townhouse on Berkeley Square in Mayfair, in Central London. In the late 19th Century, it became known as "The Most Haunted House in London".[1] Modern interest in the site was spurred by its inclusion in Peter Underwood's 1975 book, Haunted London.[2]

History and occupants[edit]

The four-storey brick town house was constructed in the late eighteenth/early nineteenth century.[3] From 1770 to 1827 it was the home of British Prime Minister George Canning, commemorated by a plaque on the house today. The house was then bought by the Viscount Bearsted, who rented the property to one Mr Myers.[4] It was later bought by BP.[4]

Since 1937 the building has been occupied by Maggs Bros, a firm of antiquarian book dealers.[1] In 1998 the building was thought to be the oldest unaltered building in London.[5]

Legend[edit]

Legend varies, but mostly states that the attic room of the house is haunted by a spirit of a young woman who committed suicide there.[6] She purportedly threw herself from the top floor windows after being abused by her uncle;[7] and is said to be capable of frightening people to death. The spirit is said to take the form of a brown mist; though sometimes it is reported as a white figure.[8] A rarer version of the tale is that a young man was locked in the attic room, fed only through a hole in the door, until he eventually went mad and died.[9] One story states that the attic room is haunted by the ghost of little girl that was killed by a sadistic servant in that room.

At least two deaths were attributed to the house in the Victorian Era after people spent the night in the room.[10] The first ghostly happenings were reported by George Canning, who claimed to have heard strange noises and have experienced psychic phenomena whilst living there.[6]

After George Canning's residency in 1885, the house was bought by a Mr. Myers, who had recently been jilted by his fiancee.[6] It was said that he would lock himself in the attic room and slowly went mad over the rest of his life.[7] During his stay at the house, it fell into gross disrepair and it is during this time that its reputation began to build.[6][7]

As a bet, in 1872, Lord Lyttleton stayed a night in the building's attic.[8] He brought his shotgun with him, and during the night fired at an apparition. In the morning, he attempted to find the apparition, but could only find shotgun cartridges.[8] The next year the local council brought a summons to the house's owners for failure to pay taxes, but due to the house's reputation as haunted they were not prosecuted.[11]

In 1879, Mayfair reported that a maid who had stayed in the attic room had been found mad.[7] It was later reported that she died in an asylum the day after.[6] On the day she was found, a nobleman purportedly took up the challenge to spend a night in the room, and his was the first death recorded in the house. The coroner pronounced him dead of fright.[6]

It is said that after one nobleman had spent the night in the attic room, he was so paralysed with fear that he couldn't speak.[12]

In 1887, sailors from HMS Penelope stayed a night in the house.[6] By morning one was found dead, having tripped as he ran from the house.[6] The other reported having seen the ghost of Mr. Myers, approaching them aggressively.[6]

No phenomena have been reported since the house was bought by the Maggs Brothers in the mid-1930s[6] and though many contemporary media outlets reported happenings at the house, more recent investigators claim nothing unusual has ever taken place there.[13] They remark that Lord Lytton's story "The Haunted and the Haunters" bears a remarkable resemblance to the supposed hauntings at 50 Berkeley Square.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Richard Jones, Walking Haunted London", New Holland Publishers Ltd; 4th edition (28 September 2007), p.69
  2. ^ Alzina Stone Dale; Barbara Sloan-Hendershott (6 April 2004). Mystery Reader's Walking Guide: London. iUniverse. pp. 117–. ISBN 978-0-595-31513-0. Retrieved 24 July 2011. 
  3. ^ E. Randall Floyd (October 2002). In the Realm of Ghosts and Hauntings. Harbor House. pp. 29–. ISBN 978-1-891799-06-8. Retrieved 24 July 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Gray, Chris (14 April 2001). "PROPERTY TYCOONS IN BIDDING WAR FOR EXCLUSIVE ADDRESS". The Independent (UK). p. 9. 
  5. ^ Jenkins, Simon (27 November 1998). "A most fitting conclusion". The Times (UK). 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Floyd, Randall (19 July 1998). "SUPERNATURAL OCCURRENCES FILL HOUSE'S PAST". The Augusta Chronicle. pp. E2. 
  7. ^ a b c d Cheung, Theresa (2006). The Element Encyclopedia of the Psychic World. Harper Element. p. 210. ISBN 978-0-00-721148-7. 
  8. ^ a b c Dave (11 August 2007). "The Saturday Strangeness". Londonist. 
  9. ^ Watts, Peter (26 October 2005). "Haunted London – City of the dead". Time Out. p. 14. 
  10. ^ Masey, Anthea (24 October 2007). "The haunting; London's grand mansions rattle with old bones and spooky experiences. Go on a ghost tour if you're brave enough, says Anthea Masey". The Evening Standard (UK). p. 8. 
  11. ^ Heather Ludgate (19 November 2007). London Laid Bare. Pegasus Elliot Mackenzie Pu. pp. 131–. ISBN 978-1-84386-319-9. Retrieved 24 July 2011. 
  12. ^ Jones, Richard (31 October 2006). "Haunted Britain". Independent Extra. p. 24. 
  13. ^ "The Big Smoke – London's urban legends; From ghosts to nursery rhymes, the real origins of the capital's myths". Time Out. 13 November 2008. p. 8. 
  14. ^ Nick Rennison (October 2007). The book of lists London. Canongate. pp. 281–. ISBN 978-1-84195-934-4. Retrieved 24 July 2011. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Charles George Harper, Haunted houses: tales of the supernatural, with some account of hereditary, London, Chapman & Hall, ltd., 1907.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°30′31.8″N 0°8′45.1″W / 51.508833°N 0.145861°W / 51.508833; -0.145861