haunted London Richard Jones historic tours.
Exit St Paul's and go left to cross over Ludgate Hill. Keep ahead into Dean's Court where on the right, set back from the road, is:-
The Old Deanery. This was built in 1670 by Sir Christopher Wren and was formerly the residence of the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral. Local tradition holds this to be a haunted building, a claim vociferously disputed by Martin Sullivan, Dean of St Paul’s, until his retirement in 1977. The strange creaks that were often heard by members of his family and staff he put down to the antiquity of the building. The bumps and clanks that were often heard at night he dismissed as ‘nothing more than the central heating getting on a bit’. He did, however, confess to being slightly bemused by a toilet-roll holder that would go ‘decidedly wonky’ whenever anyone else looked at it, but which had always righted itself by the time the Dean was called to repair it. But then he added: ‘Since I can’t conceive of a haunted toilet-roll holder, I can only put it down to my skill at do-it-yourself.'
Continue to the end of Dean's Court and go right along Carter Lane. This was once one of the City’s main thoroughfares. The colourful building opposite is the City of London Youth Hostel, originally the St Paul’s Choir School – hence the bright ecclesiastical motifs and Latin inscriptions that adorn the facade. Take the second turning left which will take you through a covered passage and into
Wardrobe Court.This glimpse of bygone London dates from 1720. To stand here on a winter’s night, when the lights of the neighbouring buildings have been switched off, is to experience the true thrill of historic and haunted London.Massive plane trees tower over the three-storey houses, and even the faintest of breezes will set their branches creaking and their trunks swaying. The stillness of the yard keeps you constantly on edge, passing darting glances around the gloomy shadows, feeling certain that unseen eyes are watching you from the inky blackness of the house windows.
Not surprisingly, the courtyard has a ghost. People going about their honest, night-time toil in the neighbourhood have reported sighting a lady, dressed all in white, drifting aimlessly from door to door. Who she is and why she should choose to wander this courtyard is unknown. She says nothing, does nothing and pays little heed to anyone or anything, being more than content to let the world pass her by as she goes about her ghostly business.†But, should someone be so rude as to stare at her, she takes umbrage and responds by fading into nothingness.
Backtrack to Carter lane and turn left. Go first left and descend St Andrews Hill. Opposite the Cockpit Tavern and go up the steps to stand before the Church of:-
St Andrew By The Wardrobe. The unusual name of this redbrick church, which was built by Sir Christopher Wren in 1695, refers to its former proximity to the Kings Wardrobe, a suite of neighbouring buildings where robes of state and cloth for the royal household were stored, until its destruction during he Great Fire of London (1666), after which the wardrobe was moved to Westminster. In 1933, three bells from the parish church at Avenbury, in Herefordshire, were re-hung in the belfry of St Andrew’s by the Wardrobe. One of them, known as Gabriel, had been cast in Worcester in the 15th century, and it was an established piece of Avenbury folklore that, whenever a vicar of the church died, then this particular bell would always ring out of its own accord to mourn his passing. Barely a year after its arrival, local residents were woken in the early hours of one morning, by the by the knell of a solitary bell, sounding from the tower of St Andrew’s church. When local police arrived to investigate they found the church was locked and there a cursory search revealed no sign of a forced entry. The night was still, with not even the faintest breeze blowing, and yet many people had heard the bell tolling, though none could explain how, or why, it could have happened. But then next morning word arrived that, shortly before the mysterious chime had been heard, the vicar at Avenbury had died.