Thought you might like this, 19th century accounts appear to be quite chilling.
Berkeley Square, London W1
In Victorian London, No. 50, built in the 18th century, was considered the most haunted building in the city. Our Victorian forefathers, spending the day in London, would not dream of leaving again until they had visited the site and seen it for themselves, seeking a thrill which would cost them nothing. The house, in which Prime Minister George Canning died in 1827, is now owned by a firm of antiquarian booksellers.
The house is haunted by the ghost of a little girl dressed in Scots plaid, who is said to have been either tortured or frightened to death by a sadistic servant in the nursery. This pathetic little girl has been seen in the upper part of the house, wearing a kilt and wringing her hands in despair and sobbing.
There is also a report of another ghost said to be that of a young woman called Adeline, who lived at the house in the 18th century with her lecherous uncle. One day she tried to escape from his attentions by climbing out onto a window ledge and in doing so fell accidentally to the ground below. Her screaming ghost has been seen hanging from the window ledge many times as she must have done just before she fell to her death.
During the 1870s, occupants of neighbouring houses reported hearing sounds and loud cries coming from the locked and empty building at night. The sound of furniture being dragged across bare floorboards was heard, together with the ringing of bells and windows being opened with a crash. Books and articles of furniture were hurled out of the windows into the street below. Whenever investigations were carried out the house was always found to be quiet and deserted.
The house was said to have gained its sinister reputation at the end of the 18th century when a Mr. Dupre, of Wilton Park, confined his insane brother in a room at the top of the stairs, the room later to be known as the Haunted Room. The insane man was said to have been that violent that he had to be fed through a special opening in the door. His groans and cries were often heard at the time in neighbouring houses and it is thought that this white-faced man with the gaping jaw was to become the horrific ghost of the house.
However, there could be another claimant to the origin of this particular ghost. In 1859, a Mr Myers took a lease on the property in preparation for his forthcoming marriage. However, this eccentric man was jilted and became a broken man, a recluse who would never allow women near him again. He spent the rest of his life at the top of the house, only opening his door to receive food from his manservant. Most of the day he spent sleeping and during the night wandered around the house with a lighted candle in his hand.
A maidservant, newly arrived, was put into the haunted room on the second floor but only a short while after the rest of the household had gone to bed they were aroused by fearful screams from the girl’s room. They found her lying in the middle of the floor, her eyes staring hideously. She died the following day at St George’s Hospital, hopelessly mad, without saying what she had seen except that it was “just horrible”.
Sir Robert Warboys was a frequent visitor to London from his seat, Warboys Hall, in Bracknell, Berks. He was a young man and was spending the day in company with his friend Lord Cholmondley, who introduced him to John Benson, who at that time owned No. 50 Berkeley Square. The subject of conversation turned to the hauntings of the house and Sir Robert said that he did not believe in ghosts. As a result a wager was set that he would not spend a night in the haunted room, even for 100 guineas. Sir Robert accepted the challenge.
Arrangements were made for a bell to be rigged up so that if he should require assistance he would be able to ring for it. Whilst his friends remained in the drawing room downstairs Sir Robert retired to bed in the haunted room, pistol in one hand and bell-pull in the other.
It was shortly before 2 am that the bell rang, followed a second time by a more urgent pealing of the bell. The gentlemen raced upstairs towards the room in which Sir Robert had retired to bed. They heard a shot ring out and as they entered they found him lying across the bed with his head almost touching the floor. His face showed the sheer agony of terror. The 30 year-old baronet was dead but there was no sign of a gunshot wound.
By 1872 the house had become infamous and Lord Lyttleton spent a night in the room and lived to tell the tale. He was armed with two blunderbusses, each loaded with buckshot and silver sixpences, the latter thought to combat evil influences. During the night he fired at something that leapt at him in the darkness, saying later that he was aware of a vague shape crashing to the floor but upon investigation could find nothing with him in the room.
The most famous story concerning the house occurred on Christmas Eve, 1887, when Robert Martin and Edward Blunden, two sailors from H.M.S. Penelope, having just returned from a cruise to the West Indies, had no money left for lodgings after a night on the town. Seeing the house was empty they decided to break in for the night to have a roof over their heads. They chose the room at the top of the house to spend the night.
During the night they were disturbed by the sound of muffled footsteps mounting the stairs and then they became aware of an horrific “something” entering the room in which they were trying to rest. Robert Martin made a dash for the door and raced downstairs in blind panic, deaf to the screams of his terrified companion, out into the protection of the street and into the arms of a passing policeman.
In the meantime, Edward Blunden, trapped in the room with the white shape of a grotesque man with a gaping mouth, arms outstretched advancing towards him, fell through a window and his body hurtled towards the ground, impaling itself on a spiked railing bordering the pavement at the front of the house. He died shortly afterwards.
By the end of the 19th century the house was completely empty except for an elderly couple who acted as caretakers but this couple were never permitted access to the haunted room, the sole key being in the possession of a man who called every six months and spent several hours in the room after having first locked the couple in the basement.
During the 18th century a middle-aged gentleman lived at No. 53 with his very attractive daughter. After a few years she eloped, but out of love for her father she promised that she would return after her wedding. The father waited patiently for her arrival and eventually died of a broken heart for his daughter was never to return to her former home.
A few years ago, one moonlit night, the sad figure of a man, wearing a satin coat and wig with lace ruffles at his neck and wrists, was seen looking out of the window of No. 53 on the first floor overlooking the Square. He looked so sad and had such a hopeless expression on his face. He was seen again the following year.
Besides Nos 50 and 53 Berkeley Square there is another house in the Square in which a ghost has been reported.
A Colonel Kearsey was visiting the house and upon his arrival was shown into a room to await his hostess. By the light of the bright fire he noticed the figure of a woman sitting in an armchair, wearing a long dress and a wide-brimmed hat and she was crying bitterly. As he moved towards her to ask if he could be of any assistance she rose from the chair and without looking at him walked towards a shuttered window where she completely vanished.
When he mentioned this startling fact to his hostess he was informed that the children of the house had heard the sound of a woman sobbing in that room several times and that a previous tenant had told her that a woman had once lived at the house who was very unhappy and cried a great deal. She had finally left her husband for another man.
By Tony Ellis