In a city as old as London, there’s no surprise that it comes with some terrifying, horrifying and downright creepy AF history. We’ve had notorious serial killers, disturbing illnesses and everyone’s favourite nightmare, the Black Death. Walk down a creepy back-alley with us (oo-er) and discover some spooky facts about London.
#1 Between 1348 and 1665, there were 16 outbreaks of the plague in London; the worst plague hit London between 1348-49 and a third of London’s inhabitants either died or fled
#2 As there were so many fatalities during the plague, mass graves had to be built around London. One of the most notorious plague pits is underneath Aldgate station, where more than 1,000 bodies are buried
#3 Speaking of tube stations: Covent Garden tube station is believed to be haunted by the ghost of William Terris, who met an untimely death near the station in 1897
#4 During WW2, the Bethnal Green station was being used as an air raid shelter. One evening in 1943, as people ran for shelter after hearing air raid sirens, a woman and child stumbled on the steps, causing hundreds of people to trip and fall down the stairs on top of each other. 173 people were crushed to death, including 62 children. Today, staff working late at the station say they can hear the sound of children crying and screaming
#5 Between Tottenham Court Road and Holborn stations, there is a ghost station called British Museum – unused since 1932
#6 In 1829, with London running out of space to bury its dead, an architect called Thomas Wilson proposed building a 94-story pyramid on Primrose Hill to house five million corpses. Because sometimes life is kind to us, it was never built
#7 22 executions have taken place at Tower of London. The last person to be executed at the Tower of London was German spy Josef Jakobs on 15th August 1941, after being caught parachuting into England
#8 At least six ravens are kept at the Tower of London at all times for superstitious reasons. The flock of resident ravens even includes a ‘spare’, and each raven has a wing clipped to make sure they don’t fly too far from home
#9 The Bedlam asylum in Beckenham was one of most popular tourist attractions of 18th century London. Visitors paid a penny to watch suffering inmates; entries were free on Tuesdays.
#10 In 2011, one of the skeletons at the original London Dungeon was discovered to be genuine human remains. It had been on display at London Dungeon since the attraction first opened in 1975
#11 Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England was buried in Westminster Abbey after his death in 1658. However, when the monarchy was restored under Charles II, Cromwell’s body was dug up from the Abbey and given a ceremonial execution. His head was then placed on a pike in the yard; a stone in the pavement of Lady Chapel of Henry VII records where his burial spot was
#12 Kensal Green Cemetery has been the setting for a series of creepy events, but one of the most tragic occurred in 1872. An unfortunate individual named Henry Taylor was a pallbearer for a funeral at the cemetery, and as he was carrying the coffin he caught his foot on a stone and he stumbled. His fellow pallbearers let go of the coffin, which fell on and killed Henry.
#13 Everyone knows the traditional English nursery rhyme “London Bridge is Falling Down”, but did you know what the song’s true meaning is? One of the creepiest theories suggest that the song is about child sacrifice: it was believed that in order to keep London Bridge upright, it must be built on a foundation of human sacrifice, and that those same humans — mostly children — would help to watch over the bridge and maintain its sturdiness.