5. Animal Apparitions: horses
Throughout the UK, one of the most commonly sighted animal ghosts is that of the horse. Reports of spectral coach and horses are pretty common throughout folklore.
On Bayswater Road, along Hyde Park, a horse-bus is regularly sighted. Near Beddington, south London, the gallop of an invisible mare was often heard during the early 1930s. The phantom horse would apparently trot to the gates of Orchard House and then stop. The ‘phantom coach of Enfield’ is another example. This four-horse coach has been sighted since the 18th century, hovering slightly above the road on Bell Lane.
Other common horse-related anomalies include the rider too, and one such haunting, involving a horse ridden by a knight, has been seen at East Barnet. Meanwhile, a highwayman on horseback has been seen at Hampstead. Sightings of this phantom centre on Spaniards Inn, the famous pub associated with Dick Turpin. Sources often cite a Mrs Helen Steipel as an eyewitness. She reported a ghostly highwayman charging at her from a thicket. After bracing for an impact that never came, she discovered that both rider and mount had vanished. Its hooves had made no sound.
Turpin’s ghost moonlights at another location. The Rose and Crown, Enfield, also claims the highwayman, who has been spotted riding past on a spectral Black Bess.
The ghost of a donkey is one of London’s more unusual legends. A colourful, glowing form is said to appear at The Hyde, between Hendon and Kingsbury.
By Neil Arnold
Image taken from Oskay's Flickr photostream.