The Saturday Strangeness

By Londonist Last edited 141 months ago
The Saturday Strangeness

3. Animal apparitions

Last week, we tackled spectral dog stories from around London. But animal apparitions are not exclusively of the canine persuasion.

Animal spirits are often considered harbingers of doom, omens of misfortune, eerie forewarnings to a coming tragedy. Here, in the first of a two-parter, we round-up some of the London’s phantom fauna:

Birds – at West Drayton, 1883, a large, black bird, resembling a raven, haunted the local churchyard. Locals considered this creature as a sign that something terrible was imminent, as it would often peck at the graves, and seemed confined to the place.

In Great Russell Street a spectral magpie is said to materialise every morning between the hours of 2:00 and 3:00 am. The fluttering menace often taps on the window of a particular house, before materialising inside the property. The bird then appears on a floating twig, possibly a ghostly branch, before vanishing into thin air.

Cats – during the 1950s, 88 Newark Street, in Whitechapel was the prowling ground of a ghastly cat-like form, often seen by children residing at the house. A gloomy atmosphere pervaded the property, and the family reported that six years of bad luck befell them.

Another phantom felid haunted Great Tower Street, in the vicinity of All Hallows, near the Tower, before the 1940s. The eerie cat lingered until the original church was obliterated by German bombers during WWII. On one occasion a group of witnesses claimed that a ghostly woman changed into the shape of a black cat.

Perhaps the most peculiar incident occurred in Regent’s Park during the 1930s. A zookeeper was strolling through the grounds with his granddaughter when a lion with a glowing coat appeared. As the man approached, the great cat faded away. The next day, when the keeper went to work, he was told that one of the lions had died the previous evening, at exactly the same time as the spooky encounter.

In 1992 in North West London at West End Lane, a ghostly golden-coloured cat surprised several witnesses, although they may have seen an elusive local puma.

To be continued….

Words by Neil Arnold

Image by M@

Last Updated 02 June 2007