Today we publish THE SEVERED STREETS, the second urban fantasy by bestselling Doctor Who writer, Paul Cornell. In THE SEVERED STREETS London is a terrifying place complete with ghosts, Jack the Ripper copycats and a Rat King. JUST LIKE REAL LIFE. We all know that ghosts exist. Don't believe us? Well to convince you below Paul Cornell shares his top five most haunted London pubs - check them out if you dare!
5: The Sutton Arms on Carthusian Street, near the Barbican, is featured in my first urban fantasy police procedural novel, London Falling. 'Charlie', the red-haired spectre, an old man in 'old fashioned' clothing, named by a landlord rather than history, has appeared between chatting women and behind a woman combing her hair in a mirror. His reputation as 'amorous' was probably sweet back in the day, but feels uncomfortable now. The pub itself is said to be spooky, one of those buildings that invites a haunting.
4: The World's End on Camden High Street. Originally The Old Mother Red Cap, on the maps before the suburb was. Mother Red Cap was a nickname for both a landlady or a witch, the latter image recalling the top of a toadstool. The name is attached most often to Jennie Bingham, whose cottage stood on the site of the inn in the Seventeenth Century. She was reputedly a poisoner, who was visited by the Devil on her death, but also a healer, who was beloved for her foul mouth. Of course she haunts the place, and the Underworld Club next door.
3: The Hoop and Toy on Thurloe Place in Kensington includes the tombs of priests in the foundations. This was apparently fine until the nearby tube stations were built, leading to a disruption of the clerics' ghostly route to the churches of London. Like the result of bad plumbing, in a glorious demonstration of London's own version of feng shui, the religious ghosts now move up and down the stairs, seeking an alternative route. The nearby Yalta Memorial, a sphere kept in perpetual motion, is interestingly about people who were sent home to die in the USSR. One can't help feeling something about that location needs fixing. That idea, that landscape shapes mythology, is close to the ideas of the Psychogeography movement, and at the heart of my Shadow Police books.
2: The Spaniards, on Spaniards Road on Hampstead Heath, demonstrates that, as in my books, human memory shapes hauntings too. Being at the edge of the Heath, it attracts highwayman stories, and those of course become Dick Turpin stories, to the point where he haunts the place because he was born there, his pistols were kept there, and there's a secret tunnel to Black Bess' stables. All of which is odd, considering Dick Turpin was actually born in a pub in Hempstead, Essex. Turpin may haunt this place because of a typo, but there are plenty of other ghosts too.
1: The Grenadier, on Wilton Row, Knightsbridge is perhaps influenced by its locale, a little backwater of charming old buildings, almost a village lost in London, which contributes to a feeling of time being out of joint. The multiple hauntings centre around repeated concepts: military men and cigars, faces with moustaches seen at the window, all stemming, it's said, from a murder over cards, but historical reasons for these imprints of memes on buildings always seem to lack something. The Grenadier has become by consensus 'London's most haunted pub', and I rather think consensus is what it takes to make that happen.
Have you been to any of the above? Seen a spirit? Or has Paul been having too many spirits? Share your favourite haunted pubs in the comments below!