It's not hard to find ghost stories in a big old city like London. The phantom population is such that we can easily find at least one haunting* for every inner-London underground station, or areas close by. Here, then, is your guide to London's spooks in the tried and trusted format of an alternative tube map.
Beer Flood Road (Tottenham Court Road)
The Dominion Theatre is built on the site of the Meux brewery. In 1814, a huge barrel burst open. Eight people lost their lives, some of whom drowned in beer. Theatre-goers have often reported strange sensations in the theatre. One couple even captured this not overwhelmingly convincing image of a spectral girl. She may be one of those killed in the flood. Or else a loose flap of material.
Black Dog (St Paul's)
The spectral hound that supposedly hangs out round the back of the Old Bailey is one of London's most famous ghosts. The phantom has been sighted on many occasions over many centuries, skulking along a brick wall in Amen Court. The ghastly form, which is accompanied by a vile smell, is said to be the spirit of a 13th century sorcerer, whose body was eaten in desperation by the starving prisoners of Newgate.
Black Lady (Victoria)
The otherwise unremarkable Shakespeare pub (named after local landowner John Shakespeare, not The Bard) is haunted by a spectral female form dressed in black. Some say the poor lady was a Southern commuter who died of malnutrition while waiting in vain for the appearance of her train.
Black Nun (Bank)
Bank clerk Philip Whitehead was arrested and hanged for forging cheques in 1811. The news drove his sister Sarah mad. Every day for the rest of her life, Sarah would visit the bank and ask to see her brother. As she always did this in mourning dress, staff nicknamed her the 'Black Nun'. Her visits continued after her death. She's been glimpsed on Threadneedle Street and even in the passageways of Bank station.
Bleeding Heart (Chancery Lane)
The Bleeding Heart Tavern and Bistro are well known places to dine out near Farringdon. They're situated in the evocatively named Bleeding Heart Yard. The name commemorates a noble lady whose body was found here, ripped limb from limb but with her heart still beating. Her ghost haunts this strange cul-de-sac. More agreeable spirits can be found in the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, which dwells in one of the buildings overlooking the yard.
Bloody Bonner (Bethnal Green)
Bishop Edward Bonner was well known for persecuting protestants under the reign of Queen Mary I, for which he earned the nickname Bloody Bonner. His coach and four black horses are said to haunt Victoria Park, while the man himself has been seen in the (now-closed) Bishop Bonner pub on Bonner Street. Bethnal Green is, of course, also the scene of the worst disaster on the tube, when 173 people were killed in a crush in 1943. Anguished cries are still supposedly heard by station staff.
Blue Overalls (Moorgate)
Passengers awaiting a train in the 1970s reported seeing a man in blue overalls who, on closer approach, adopted a look of absolute horror before vanishing into a wall. The story has been linked to the Moorgate rail crash of 1975, in which many died.
Bone Hill (Old Street)
Bunhill Fields just south of the station is a well-known graveyard for non-conformists like William Blake and Daniel Defoe. It was also a dumping ground for 'thousands of carriage-loads' of human bones, during a clear out of St Paul's charnel house around 1550. It's not surprising that many strange sights have been seen here, from hooded phantoms to mysterious handprints.
Boudica (King's Cross St Pancras)
According to local lore, the Queen of the Iceni is buried between platforms 9 and 10. (That the Hogwarts Express can also be found here is coincidence — JK Rowling was imagining Euston when she wrote the Harry Potter novels.) Boudica's ghost is said to haunt the tunnels beneath the station, as is a female victim of the 1987 King's Cross fire.
Brown Giant (Vauxhall)
The ghostly presence of a seven-foot-tall man in brown overalls was seen on several occasions during construction of the Victoria line. We're dubbing him Chewbacca.
Chained Convict (Pimlico)
The Morpeth Arms is built next to the old Millbank Penitentiary, a notorious prison that once held convicts awaiting transportation. The pub not only claims to have cells from the gaol in its basement, but also reckons that it's 'haunted by prisoners and prison staff'. Ignore all that, and head upstairs for a pleasant dining room overlooking the Thames.
Cinema Spook (Notting Hill)
The landmark Coronet cinema has its own ghost. Legend has it that a cashier was once caught raiding the till. She was so ashamed at her act that she leapt to her death from an upper storey. Her footsteps can still be heard running upstairs to the scene of her fatal plunge.
Creepy Clock (Holborn)
The Dolphin pub in Red Lion Passage contains a haunted clock. The hands have not moved since a zeppelin bomb all-but-destroyed the pub in the first world war. Although the mechanism remains broken, the eerie clock can nevertheless be heard to tick on quiet nights — which don't often happen in this tiny boozer.
Cross Bones (Borough)
Supposedly a former burial ground for prostitutes, paupers and the 'outcast dead', Cross Bones is now a well-known memorial site, with regular vigils for the departed. It does not harbour any specific ghosts, but there is always an otherworldly feel about the place, heightened by this recent graffiti.
Cursed Nurse (Euston Square)
University College Hospital has an extra member of staff who requires no salary. A ghostly nurse, in Edwardian uniform, walks the wards, still attending to patients. She's thought to be Lizzie Church, a nurse who accidentally killed a patient and committed suicide in remorse.
Death Bell (Blackfriars)
The curiously named church of St Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe has a still more curious bell named Gabriel. It is said to ring of its own accord to indicate death or tragedy. The bell previously hung in the parish church of Avenbury, Herefordshire. Despite its relocation to Blackfriars, it was heard to toll upon the death of Avenbury's vicar.
Disturbed Nun (Lambeth North)
The London Road depot for Bakerloo line trains hides beside St George's Circus. It's reputedly haunted by a distressed nun, thought to be linked to a nearby Roman Catholic school.
Drunk Cavalier (Temple)
The George Tavern at the eastern end of Strand is a fine old pub whose basement dates back much further than the 20th century frontage. It's apparently haunted by a cavalier, seen on numerous occasions by people who totally haven't had too much to drink.
Empty Cowl (Monument)
St Magnus Martyr church once marked the northern end of London Bridge. It's haunted by a dark-robed figure thought to be the shade of bible translator Miles Coverdale. One witness described looking into the figure's hood and seeing no face. TS Eliot had a ghostly crowd flowing over London Bridge past this church, 'so many, I had not thought death had undone so many'.
Escalator Spook (Marble Arch)
Ever ridden an escalator with the nagging feeling that someone is stood right behind you? Happens all the time at Marble Arch. The escalators here are stalked by a well-dressed gentleman in a Trilby who vanishes when looked at directly. The story is clearly far fetched. Nobody on London Underground ever looks directly at anyone else.
Fall Guy (Earl's Court)
All ghost stories are ultimately made up by somebody, so why not a reviewer on TripAdvisor? According to travellingman503 (that may not be his real name), the Hotel Ibis in Earl's Court is 'certainly haunted' by a staff member who 'fell to his death in the elevator shaft in the early 1900s' — quite a feat, given that the hotel dates from the 1970s. The time-travelling spook supposedly haunts the 11th and 12th floors, where it opens wardrobe doors and leaves baths running.
50 Berkeley Square (Bond Street)
One of London's most notorious hauntings concerns this old town house in Mayfair. The upper rooms are said to be plagued by a ghost so appalling that witnesses either go mad or kill themselves. For a time, this was the most famous haunted house in the country, but it's now considered a load of crap.
Fireman's Pole-tergeist (Euston)
In 2007, a worker at Euston Fire Station captured a grainy video of a hooded phantom, who promptly disappeared. Prepare to be disappointed by the inconclusive footage. Nevertheless, fire fighters at the station have long thought the place haunted.
Flushing Phantom (Bow Road)
The Bow Bells pub has a particularly annoying ghost, which lingers in the ladies toilet, pulling the chain while customers are mid-flow. The original Moaning Myrtle from the Harry Potter books.
Forty Footsteps (Goodge Street)
During the Georgian era, two duelling brothers fatally killed each other somewhere in the Bloomsbury area. For years afterwards, no grass would grow upon the ground, and their footprints would soon reappear if ever they were removed. The land became known as the Field of Forty Footsteps.
Ghost Street (Leicester Square)
A little up Charing Cross Road lies a strange throwback to another era. Peer through a grating in the middle of the road and you'll see an old sign for Little Compton Street. This road has now vanished from the maps, buried when Charing Cross Road was driven through the area. It still lingers in 'ghost' form beneath the grille. (A more sober explanation is that this is simply a Victorian service tunnel that's adopted the old street name.)
Ghostly Clang (Great Portland Street)
Grasmere House in the Regent's Park Estate has an eerie reputation. In 2016, residents called in a team of paranormal investigators to get to the bottom of a mysterious clanging noise. It's definitely supernatural and not a mischievous resident or some dodgy plumbing.
Ghost Train (South Kensington)
A phantom train, complete with spectral guard, is said to have vanished in a tunnel next to the station back in 1928. Its eerie whistle can still be heard. Or at least it would be if the crowds of school children would ever abate.
Grenadier Ghoul (Hyde Park Corner)
The Grenadier pub, hidden between Belgrave Square and Hyde Park Corner, is a charming old boozer, once favoured by the soldiers from the nearby barracks. Every September, punters report supernatural activity, with objects moving of their own accord and sudden temperature drops. The ghost is said to be a soldier who, caught cheating at cards, took such a beating from his comrades that he died of his injuries.
Hair Stroker (Aldgate)
Way back when, a London Underground engineer accidentally made contact with the live rail while on the tracks at Aldgate. The shock should have killed him, but he somehow survived without injury. Witnesses swore that, just before he touched the rail, they'd seen the mysterious figure of a woman stroking the man's hair.
Jack the Ripper (Westminster)
Although the Ripper is chiefly associated with the East End, his ghost haunts Westminster Bridge. Suspect Montague Druitt committed suicide here in December 1888. His phantom appears on the bridge parapet on New Year's Eve, before vanishing.
Jimmy Garlick (Mansion House)
The church of St James Garlickhythe contains a macabre secret. The mummified remains of an unknown man were discovered in the vault in the 1850s. Christened 'Jimmy Garlick' the mummy was put on display for paying Victorian visitors. He's still there, but hidden from view. Jimmy's ghost is said to protect the church. During the second world war, a mysterious robed figure was seen walking through the church on many occasions before air raids. The church was one of the few to emerge from the Blitz unscathed.
Knightsbridge Troglodyte (Knightsbridge)
Something strange was filmed on Knightsbridge tube platform in 2016. A fleeting but clear outline of a humanoid figure can be seen skulking in the running tunnel. The linked article suggests this could be a spirit from a plague pit near the station, or perhaps one of the fabled troglodytes reported to live in the tube tunnels. More likely, it's a prankster with a deathwish, or maybe just a fake.
Lacy Stacey (Marylebone)
In 2000, a maintenance worker witnessed the apparition of a lady dressed in a lace top. A cleaner confirmed that there had been other sightings. Her name is unknown, but we're dubbing her Lacy Stacey.
Lady Vanishes (Elephant and Castle)
Perhaps we're imagining it, but E&C tube always seems to have a maudlin feel about it. It's certainly attracted its share of ghost stories. One oft-told tale speaks of a young lady who enters an empty, early morning train, only to vanish completely.
Leaping Lady (Embankment)
Cleopatra's Needle has a long-held reputation for supernatural activity. In one recurring tale, police officers are stopped by a lady a little further along the Embankment. She pleads with them to stop a suicide attempt at the obelisk. The police race to the scene, only to see the same lady plummeting into the Thames. There is no splash.
London Stone (Cannon Street)
An old legend states that if London Stone is ever moved, then the city will no longer flourish. The ancient monument was (temporarily) shifted to the Museum of London in May 2016, a month before the Brexit vote. Draw your own conclusions.
Marching Monks (Southwark)
Construction of the Jubilee line disturbed many burial grounds in the Southwark area. Phantom monks have been seen walking through the tunnels.
Marsh Man (Stepney Green)
A cloaked, shambling figure is frequently seen roaming the ancient streets to the south of the tube station. The mystery man is thought to be an old pedlar who drowned in Stepney Marsh long ago, after being mugged.
Mary Ann Nichols (Whitechapel)
Jack the Ripper's first 'canonical' victim was murdered on Bucks Row (now Durward Street) behind Whitechapel station. Passers-by have heard ghostly wails, while dogs and horses refuse to stop.
Waterloo station once had its very own 'ghost train', which would convey the bodies of the dead out to Brookwood cemetery in Surrey. The so-called Necropolis railway lasted until 1941 when war damage at Waterloo hastened its closure. Part of the land became a railway training school whose corridors were haunted by a door-slamming ghost in the 1990s (see James Clark's book Haunted Lambeth).
Old Mary (Lancaster Gate)
The Mitre is a fine old Young's pub with a grisly past. In the 18th century, a scullery maid called Mary caught the eye of local land owner Lord Craven. Lady Craven got wind of the affair and stabbed Mary to death. Today, the pub's basement bar is known as Old Mary's in commemoration. Her ghost has been seen and felt on many occasions, though we suspect the whole tale started out as a joke when someone ordered a bloody mary.
Pepys (Charing Cross)
Diarist Samuel Pepys is said to haunt number 12 Buckingham Street, his former home. The ghost was spotted several times in the 1950s.
Poorly Child (Paddington)
Safestore is one of those ubiquitous businesses that provides storage space for paying customers. Some of its stores have a bonus security feature in the nebulous shape of a ghost. The Paddington branch is one such. The Victorian building was once a children's hospital. Workers have spotted a ghostly child on CCTV, perhaps a victim of a diphtheria outbreak in 1893 that did for many of the patients.
Pig-Wolf (Green Park)
The park boasts several ghosts, but perhaps the most fearsome lurks in the shadow of an old plane tree. It sports a pig-like face with a wolf’s mouth and 'pale, hate-filled eyes', if you can imagine such a miscreation. Several men have died under the 'Pig Tree', while women feel a 'cruel hatred' toward men when near it. More here.
Prophet of Doom (Russell Square)
The Grange Blooms Hotel's lounge is troubled by the spirit of the Rev John Cumming. This Victorian preacher was obsessed with the end times. He famously predicted that " …the forthcoming end of the world will be hastened by the construction of underground railways burrowing into infernal regions and thereby disturbing the Devil." Which is basically the plot of Reign of Fire.
Queen Anne (St James's Park)
For 364 days a year, the statue of Queen Anne stands motionless in Queen Anne's Gate. But every 1 August, she steps down from her plinth and dances around the area. Nobody pays her the slightest bit of attention, because this is London.
Ragged School (Mile End)
The Ragged School is an old school for poor children, set up in Victorian times by Dr Barnardo. We once spent the night there on a ghost watch. We didn't see any spooks, but others were convinced that the place was creeping with lost souls. Actually, the scariest thing about it was walking back through Mile End Park at 5am.
Reclining Man (Liverpool Street)
The 10 Bells pub in Spitalfields is famous for its Jack the Ripper associations. Its ghost, though, is an anonymous elderly man who haunts the rooms above the pub. Witnesses wake in the middle of the night to find the apparition lying in their bed.
Reflected Spook (Edgware Road)
Passengers have reported the reflection of another passenger sitting beside them, even though nobody is there.
Room 333 (Oxford Circus)
The historic Langham Hotel has a haunted bedroom, the half-beastly number 333, where guests see apparitions and a glowing ball. Those who've witnessed the ghost include TV announcer James Alexander Gordon.
Royal Mistress (Sloane Square)
Lillie Langtry, actress and special friend to Edward VII, is reputed to haunt this hotel. She lived in a house on the site, which was eventually subsumed into the building.
Sarah Siddons (Baker Street)
Siddons was one of the most famous actors of the Georgian stage. Her theatrics continued long after death, at least according to the stories that say her spirit continued to wander the rooms of her former home at 27 Upper Baker Street. The house is long gone, replaced by mansion-style housing.
Scratching Fanny (Barbican)
Cock Lane is a good 5-10 minute walk from Barbican tube, but it has to be included as the scene of London's most famous ghost. Tales of a noisy apparition called Scratching Fanny caused a sensation in Georgian London. Huge crowds, among them lords, ladies and celebrities, would assemble in the narrow thoroughfare in an effort to catch a glimpse of the lewdly named spook. The case was so notorious, it's one of the few hauntings to inspire a Wikipedia entry that runs to several thousand words. Alas, the whole thing was faked.
Scream Teen (Farringdon)
13 year-old Anne Naylor was a maltreated orphan who starved to death after being tied to an attic door. To conceal her death, her guardian dismembered the body, burnt the remains, then threw what was left into the Fleet Ditch. Not long after, locals claimed to have seen the ghost of a girl and heard screams in the area. The house was demolished to make way for Farringdon station. Strange shrieks and horrified faces can frequently be encountered on platforms 3 and 4, because Thameslink.
Shrieking Mummy ghost station (British Museum)
A ghost in a ghost station. This former Central line stop is reputedly haunted by the shade of a Pharaoh (or Pharaoh's daughter) whose earthly remains are housed in the nearby museum. The Egyptian presence is said to shriek at anyone who comes near. Cleopatra comin' atcha.
Spooky Squirrel (West Brompton)
Brompton Cemetery is haunted by a ghostly squirrel, often seen scrabbling about in the undergrowth. Interestingly, the sciurine spook is said to resemble a red squirrel, a species not seen in London for many decades.
Stove-hatted Gent (Piccadilly Circus)
Fortnum & Mason claims a particularly menacing ghost, which takes the form of a Victorian gent in distinctive headgear. According to the venerable shop, the 'chilling, malevolent presence' has caused some employees to quit their jobs immediately. He's been linked to a long-forgotten murder on Jermyn Street.
Technophobe (London Bridge)
The George Inn on Borough High Street is one of London's most historic pubs, now managed by the National Trust. The ghost of a former landlady haunts its wooden rooms, causing malfunctions on any electronic devices she encounters. The technophobe ghost presided over the pub at the time when the nearby train station put an end to the coaching business, and much of her trade. Consequently, she hates any new technology. Even Snapchat.
Templar Ghost (Regent's Park)
Famous London townhouse 33 Portland Place comes with remarkable interiors and its own resident ghost. Noted freemason and former resident Lord Charles Townshend has been spotted 'drifting down the main staircase clad in Templar robes'.
Terriss (Covent Garden)
Look out for the shade of actor William Terriss. He was stabbed to death outside the Adelphi Theatre in 1897. Oddly, though, his spectre haunts Covent Garden tube station.
Tower Bear (Tower Hill)
The Tower of London is Spook Central, and home to many ghosts. Perhaps the oddest concerns a phantom bear, whose apparition once scared a man to death. The bear may be the shade of the polar bear who lived in the Tower menagerie in the 13th century.
Tudor Ladies (Angel)
The Old Queen's Head is a favourite pub on Essex Road. It's haunted by a woman and girl, said to be dressed in Tudor costume. The unexplained slamming of doors and mysterious sobbing are not unknown.
Weeping Woman (Bermondsey)
Another branch of Safestore (see also 'Poorly Child') claims a resident ghost. Customer 'Karen' reported a sobbing presence in the chain's Old Jamaica Road branch, set within the railway arches. "I heard a woman crying from inside one of the units near mine and rushed to get someone to unlock it... A member of staff opened the unit but it was completely empty and the crying had stopped. We both heard it."
Whiteley's Wraith (Bayswater)
The Bayswater shopping centre has had a chequered history since it first opened as a department store in the 1860s. One particular low point came in 1907 when proprietor William Whiteley was shot dead by a man claiming to be his illegitimate son. Whiteley's ghost is said to haunt the corner of Queensway and Westbourne Grove.
Wild Boy (Kensington High Street)
Kensington Palace, a short walk from this station, is home to numerous ghosts, including foreign princesses and the shade of George II. The most mischievous is Peter the Wild Boy — a feral child found by George I in the woods near Hamelin, who later lodged in the Palace (and is immortalised in a mural on the main staircase — above). A ghostly boy, thought to be Peter, is said to haunt the rooms — which is a bit odd, as Peter died in his 70s in Hertfordshire.
Pugnacious prime minister Winston Churchill once lived nearby and is said to haunt the platforms of this Central line stop. If you want conclusive, unequivocal proof, then this photo is not for you.
*Assuming ghosts exist, which they don't.
All images by the author unless otherwise indicated.