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 1900s it became known as "The Most Haunted House in London";[1] mostly due to Peter Underwood's description of the house in the 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] One, 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 was killed by a sadistic servant in that room.

In the Victorian era at least two deaths were said to have occurred after people spent the night in the room.[10] However, 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 which had appeared. In the morning, he attempted to find what he had shot at, 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 let off.[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, coming at 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 untoward 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 "The Saturday Strangeness". Londonist. 11 August 2007.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help);
  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