Oct 31 17

Turns out we’ve been to most of London’s haunted pubs

Jack Cutforth

Turns out that, shockingly, we have been to a lot of the pubs that frequently show up on ‘most haunted’ lists. Never ones to avoid a Halloween bandwagon, we thought we’d give our own experiences of these allegedly paranormal public houses. At the risk of killing stone dead the entire premise of this article just three sentences in, obviously ghosts are bollocks. But the things about these ‘most haunted’ lists is that they tend to mostly feature pubs that have been around for a while and are interesting in their own right, so well worth visiting even if you’re not Derek Acorah. Big thanks to real-british-ghosts.com, spookyisles.com, and hauntedrooms.co.uk for providing the raw material for this spooky pub crawl.

The Grenadier, Belgravia

This tops most lists of London’s haunted pubs, unsurprisingly given how old and strange it is. Ghosts aside, the Grenadier is one of London’s most unique pubs. Read our review here.

What’s the backstory?

This place used to be an officer’s mess for the Grenadier Guards, hence the name, and one day a solider was caught cheating at cards, and got beaten literally to death for his troubles, and his spirit is said to roam the pub to this day.

What’s the ghost done?

Just some absolutely classic ghost hi-jinks:

  • Objects being moved overnight
  • Unexplained cold spots
  • Groaning in the basement

So is it haunted?

Let’s just go through this list one at a time, shall we? Something ‘moving overnight’ usually means you just forgot where you left it, don’t worry about it, happens to the best of us. Unexplained cold spots? Familiar to anyone who’s rented from a shit landlord (i.e. everyone) – it’s called bad insulation. As for groaning in the basement, sorry – that was me, I fell down the stairs after a surfeit of Guinness. When we visited the only terrors were the bunch of wealthy socialites loudly debating the relevant merits of ‘Cape Town and Jo-Burg’.

Hoop & Toy, Kensington

A pleasant pub near South Kensington, ideal for a post-museum pint.

What’s the backstory?

This pub was allegedly built on a former grave site in which priests were buried, and when nearby tube stations were built, their route to nearby monasteries and churches was disturbed, causing the priests to roam the pub instead.

What do the ghosts do?

Very little, to be honest. They seem to just listlessly mope about the place, like sulky teenagers who have been grounded. Come on lads, make an effort, you might as well do a bit of poltergeisting while you’re trapped there.

So is it haunted?

Right, this is a question about ghosts that has always bugged me: can they pass through solid fucking objects or can’t they? One minute they’re appearing through walls in a spooky way, the next they’re trapped in one place because of a tube station? And if they can’t pass through solid object, how were they getting to these churches before the tube station was there? Were they waiting for someone to politely open the door of the pub for them, and then waiting for the same at the church? Why is there no consistency here? Why, for the love of God, do I care?

World’s End, Camden

Spacious pub for people who like rock music near Camden Town station.

What’s the backstory?

This place seems to be hanging on the haunted coat tails of nearby Black Cap, but that’s closed now so let’s do this one instead. The Black Cap was allegedly haunted by a witch called Old Mother Black Cap, and The World’s End is said to be sited where her cottage once stood.[citation needed] Additionally, the basement may have once been used for torture and executions.[citation needed]

What to the ghosts do?

According to Spooky Isles dot com, ‘Spine chilling shrieks and screams have been heard echoing through The World’s End’.

So is it haunted?

Guys, I…are you serious? Screams have been heard? Screams have been heard in the vicinity of this pub, which, and this isn’t relevant at all, don’t know why I’m mentioning it really, but I might as well say it, this pub which is next door to a music venue which hosts heavy metal gigs? What kind of half-arsed, phoning-it-in Ghosthunter came up with that? ‘Yeah, total mystery to be honest mate. Only possible source for all that screaming is Old Mother Black Cap herself. Yeah, no, that’s her shredding that epic guitar solo as well, to be sure.’ Who you gonna call? I dunno, Ticketmaster?

George Inn, Southwark

One of the many pubs in London which claims to be the oldest, and while it might not be it certainly is very, very old – dating back to 1667, featuring in a Dickens novel, and the last remaining ‘galleried coaching Inn’. Read our review here.

What’s the backstory?

Not much detail here – Real British Ghosts dot com tells us that this place is haunted by a woman who may be the previous landlady.

What does the ghost do?

‘She appears not to like modern electronics and the pub continually has problems with tills malfunctioning.’ Ah, ok, I see, she’s one of those people. If this ghost were still alive she’d be sharing shit memes on Facebook about how we’re all just, like, slaves to our phones, and no one talks to each other anymore, you know? It actually wouldn’t surprise me that some people are such utter bores that they take their pet peeves into the next life.

So is it haunted?

Having worked in shops and pubs I do have to say – and I really don’t want to be a cynic here – when a till malfunctioned I was more likely to blame it on outdated equipment than the angered spirit of an erstwhile landlord.

Conclusion

I guess it’s hardly surprising that terrifying pallid apparitions are frequently sighted in London’s pubs – though if these ghosthunters just tried talking to us they’d see that we’re not the undead, we’re just very unhealthy.

If I were a ghost and somehow trapped on this earthly plane then I have no doubt I would lurk around a pub – why break the habit of a lifetime just because you’re dead? So if you are determined to believe in ghosts there are worse places to look. But honestly the most terrifying thing about any pub in London is the constant danger that it will be turned into luxury flats. Happy Halloween.