True Ghost Stories From the Tower of London's White Tower

DIRECTIONS

Continue up the staircase and along the battlements, through the Broad Arrow and Constable towers. To your right, modern office and leisure complexes surround St Katharine’s dock. Below you the traffic moves across Tower Bridge but, separated by the moat and high walls, you feel centuries removed from it.


The walk brings you to the Martin Tower. One October night in 1817, the keeper of the Crown Jewels, Lenthal Swifte, had just sat down to dinner here, when his wife suddenly exclaimed, ‘Good God! What is that?’ A glass cylinder filled with a bluish-white fluid had appeared and was floating around the table. Swifte watched dumbstruck as it drifted behind his wife. ‘Christ, it has seized me!’ she screamed. Her terror moved the keeper to action and, leaping to his feet, he flung his chair at the apparition. It moved towards the window and vanished.

DIRECTIONS

Leave the Martin Tower, taking extra care, since many visitors have complained of unseen hands pushing them as they descend the stairs. Go left and cross to the White Tower.


This massive and forbidding tower is the oldest of the buildings and dwarfs others around it. Wandering through its massive galleries and winding stone corridors is eerie even during the day. At night, when the floorboards are settling and the shadows lengthening, it must take nerves of steel to walk alone inside the building. But the Custody Guards, whose job is to do just that, are a fearless bunch, although many of them have encountered strange phenomena.

A ‘White Lady’ who once stood at a window waving to a group of children and whose wraith now drifts silently around the rooms, is just one of its many spectres. Perhaps it is her cheap perfume that has been smelt around the entrance to St John’s Chapel, causing many a Custody Guard to retch at its pungent aroma.

Guards passing from the chapel into the gallery containing Henry VIII's armour have spoken of a terrible crushing sensation that suddenly descends upon them, but which lifts the moment they stagger shaking from the room. One guard patrolling through here in the early hours of a stormy winter morning got a sudden and unnerving sensation that a black cloak had been flung over his head. As he struggled, the cloak was seized from behind by his phantom assailant and pulled tight around his throat. When he arrived at the guard room, after freeing himself, gasping and choking, the marks on his neck bore vivid testimony to his brush with the unseen horror.

Another guard, Mr Arthur Crick, decided to rest for a moment one night as he made his rounds. Sitting on a ledge he slipped off his right shoe when a voice behind him whispered, ‘There’s only you and I here,’ eliciting from Arthur the very earthly response, ‘Just let me get this bloody shoe on and there’ll be only you.’

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