Tours of Haunted London. Charterhouse and Haunted Pubs.
Leave the Rising Sun by its rear door and turn left into Rising Sun Court. At the phone boxes go right along Long lane and continue ahead until on the left you arrive at The Red Cow:
This pub was for many years, under the tenancy of Dick O’Shea a characterful Irishman who attracted the likes of Bernard Miles and Peter Ustinov to try his legendary hot whisky toddies. The pub was open from 6.30am, serving the workers after their evening duties at Smithfield Market, opposite. Dick would sit in his rocking chair on the upper balcony keeping a patronly eye on his customers below. He died in 1981 but, for almost a year afterwards, regulars often caught sight of him, sitting on the balcony, rocking back and forth, as genial and watchful a host in death as he had been in life. The pub unfortunately has now been radically altered so the balcony is sadly no more.
Exit the pub and cross over Long Lane. Keep ahead along the right side of Lindsey Street. Turn right along Charterhouse Street and go left through the gates into Charterhouse Square and follow the railings that encircle the garden at the centre of the sqaure. St the top pause and look over the railings at the garden.
Many people consider this to be one of the neighbourhood’s most melancholic spots. The huge plane trees that tower above the peaceful lawns stand over a plague pit where 50,000 victims of the 1348 Black Death are said to be buried. Some of them would, no doubt, have been buried alive, and people walking by the square during the hours of darkness can sometimes hear the anguished screams of these poor unfortunates as they relive their final agonies amid the putrefying corpses. When the Charterhouse School stood nearby, new pupils were dared to creep into the square as midnight approached, press an ear to the cold earth and, as the witching hour chimed, listen to the screeching and howling that they were assured would sound from beneath the grass.
Follow the railings as they veer right and a little way after they do so cross over to the huge wooden gates that are the entrance to the Charterhouse itself.
The ancient wall of weathered stone that encircles the Charterhouse –London’s only surviving Tudor town house - helps keep the contemporary world firmly at bay. Beyond the massive oak gates of the gatehouse, visitors find themselves in a veritable time capsule, the origins of which stretch back to 1381 when Norman nobleman Sir Walter de many endowed a monastery for the strict order of the Carthusian monks. Here the holy brethren would offer prayers for the souls of the victims of the 1348 Black Death who still lie buried in the great square outside the gates. The monastery flourished until the Reformation, when its monks refused to accept Henry as head of the church in England. Their Prior, John Houghton, was hanged, drawn and quartered, and one of his arms was even nailed onto the monastery gates in attempt to persuade the surviving monks. But, inspired by their leader’s bravery and ghostly nocturnal visits from long dead members of their order who urged them to remain true to their faith, the friars held strong and refused to curtail to the King’s demands. One dark, wintry night, as they prayed in the chapel by dim candlelight, their came a flash of heavenly flame which caused every candle to flare up with a celestial brilliance. Encouraged in their battle with the State, the monks remained steadfast, even though sixteen more of their number were executed, before the monastery was finally dissolved.
The building was then granted to Lord North, who turned it into a splendid private residence. He entertained Elizabeth 1st here on two occasions, his hospitality being so lavish that he crippled himself financially and had to retire to the country. Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk, then bought the house. His plans to marry Mary, Queen of Scots, resulted in his execution in 1572, and the house had several more owners before being purchased in 1611 by the immensely wealthy Sir Thomas Sutton. He converted he building into a hospital for aged men and a school for the education of the sons of the poor. In time the school became a distinguished public school; and moved to new premises in Godalming in 1867. Today some twenty or so elderly men live amid the ancient courts and forgotten cloister of this wonderful old mansion.
At night when the surrounding streets fall silent, a shadowy monk is said to drift aimlessly about the cobblestone courtyards, parts of which survive from the days of the monastery. He shares his weary vigils with the headless spectre of the Duke of Norfolk that comes striding down the main staircase, on which he was arrested, his head tucked neatly under his arm.
Continue clockwise to exit Charterhouse Square and turn left along Charterhouse Street' A little way along on the left pause at The Sutton Arms.
Behind the enchanting, bow-windowed frontage of the Sutton Arms, is a snug and cosy interior that is haunted by a red haired old gentleman in old-fashioned dress who, since they have never been formerly introduced, the landlord has come to know as “Charley.” He has been seen sitting nonchalantly in a corner of the pub, and on one famous occasion, he appeared suddenly between two girls who were enjoying a lunchtime drink. Having given them a nasty fright, he grinned and then promptly disappeared. In October 1997, a friend of the then landlord, who was staying in one of the pubs upstairs rooms, was looking in the mirror, combing her hair, one night when a cold shiver suddenly passed over her. Net moment she saw the reflection of a red haired man, standing behind her smiling. She spun round quickly to remonstrate with the intruder, but was astonished to find no body there.
Continue to the end of Charterhouse Street, turn right onto Aldersgate Street and a little way along on the right you will find Barbican Station where this tour ends.