DISCOVER THE GHOSTS OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT
There is no better, nor more atmospheric, time of the year to explore the streets of haunted London than Christmas. The workers are at home in the suburbs and won't be returning until the New Year has been well and truly rung in. The streets lie deserted, the buildings are empty, the alleyways and the courtyards are silent, and little stirs in the darker recesses of the haunted City, save for the occasional urban fox, flitting through the night on some nefarious mission - and, oh yes, the spirits of former residents whose City this was, is and always will be.
And, let's be honest about this, no Christmas is ever complete without a festive sprinkling of ghost stories to chill the marrow and tingle the spine.
So, for Christmas 2017, London's leading authority on all things haunted and legendary, Richard Jones, will be donning his Victorian funeral director's outfit, adding a sprig of holly to the lapel of his frockcoat, and leading a ghost walk through the old streets of London that will offer participants a thrillingly chilling night of surprises, shocks and excellent storytelling.
Of all London's ghost walks, this is the only one to be led by a genuine authority on the paranormal, a published author who has written extensively on ghosts and legends and whose books Walking Haunted London; Haunted London and History and Mystery Walks In London are used by virtually every other ghost walk guide when planning their own tours!
But, on Richard's haunted Christmas walk, you will be taken around by the guide who wrote the books, not a guide whose read a few books. In short you'll be in the company of the source.
HAUNTED LOCATIONS AND CREEPY THOROUGHFARES
As with all Richard's ghost walks, this one has been carefully crafted to ensure that it achieves just the right blend of ghostly goings-on coupled with a genuinely chilling and atmospheric route.
Be sure to bring your camera with you, as you will be visiting locations at which people have frequently snapped possible evidence of paranormal activity. Orbs abound. Phantom forms aplenty have been known to appear. And mysterious mists have, from time to time, confounded even the staunchest skeptic.
Are they real, or is there a simple, scientific explanation behind these manifestations? It will be left up to you to decide, as Richard will merely act as the conduit via which you might, possibly, gain access to them.
And, when all is said and done, as the author of more than 20 books on Britain's paranormal history, if anybody knows where to hunt for ghosts in London - it's Richard Jones, the Capital's undisputed doyen of the darkness, and London's longest established ghost walk guide.
LET THE HAUNTINGS BEGIN
So, with the night shadows snapping at our feet, we set off into the haunted hinterland of the old City to visit scenes of paranormal activity.
Delving into a labyrinth of dark, creepy alleyways, the Christmas Ghost Walk will get straight into its spectral stride with an eclectic mix of chilling tales that will set the mood for the tour ahead.
From the sinister corner where, according to legend, unwary wayfarers might find themselves subjected to a foul blast of the "devil's breath"; to the ancient church tower where a demon hound once came calling and left behind a chilling reminder of his visit.
Then, there is the timeworn City hostelry from a window of which the ghostly form of a pale faced girl has been known to gaze down upon passersby, and inside a white mist has been known to swirl suddenly from a cobwebbed corner.
It's also the place where, in the 19th century, the notoriously nefarious "Hell Fire Club' came into being.
MR EBENEZER SCROOGE I PRESUME?
Onwards and forwards we push, with the phantoms of the London night awaiting our arrival at every location we visit.
You will wend your way through the very alleyways through which one Ebenezer Scrooge picked his way on a snowy Christmas Eve in 1843, as he headed home for an encounter that would change him - not to mention also change the way we celebrate Christmas - forever.
Indeed, so little have these time-locked thoroughfares changed that it would come as no great shock were old Scrooge himself to come slinking towards us, a frosty rime on his head, and on his eyebrows and his wiry chin, as he carries his own low temperature always about him.
Indeed, in an attempt to dodge the old misanthrope's icy countenance, Richard will tug you into a shadow-draped churchyard where he will regale you with the terrifying tale of the circumstances around a 19th century burial, that brought an admonishing wraith back from beyond the grave in order to issue a stern warning to a vicar whose antics, at least when it came to the corpses laid to rest in his church, were, to say the least, despicable, dastardly and decidedly un-vicary.
THE TERROR OF THE NIGHT SHADE
Via several more creepy alleyways and dark City backstreets, we find our way to an historic hub that nestles, aloof and secluded and very well hidden from the main thoroughfares of the City of London.
We enter it by way of a covered passageway where an unseen entity has, on more than one occasion, scared the wits out of police dogs, and where an the invisible something that lurks in the darkest reach of the passage has been known to administer a ghostly slap to those who venture this way on dark winters nights.
LOTS AND LOTS OF CHRISTMAS HAUNTINGS
The ghost walk continues on its nefarious path through the haunted London night, visiting many more places where ghosts are known to lurk.
You will chance upon a cobbled courtyard, where Richard will tell you the story of one of the most recent hauntings to have occurred in this neighbourhood.
You will stand over the remains of one of London's oldest remnants, over which a ghostly legionnaire has kept a dedicated watch for nigh on 2,000 years.
You will saunter through the narrow alleyway where ghost walk participants have heard a sinister whisper that tells them, in no uncertain terms, to "Get out of here, NOW!"
THE RITUAL TO RAISE THE DEAD
The tour's grand finalé takes place in a dark churchyard where a solitary grave instantly catches your eye the moment you enter. People tend to give it a wide berth, but Richard will draw the group around it.
In the past, local children would congregate around this very grave on dark winter nights, such as the one on which you will be congregating around it with your fellow spirit seekers. Having done so, they would perform a ritual, whilst reciting an incantation, that would, so tradition maintains, cause the spirit of whoever rests beneath the gravestone to rise up and follow whoever it was that summoned him, or her, home and haunt the remainder of their days.
Of course, in our more enlightened high tech age, such quaint and archaic customs are looked upon with a certain amount of derision and scorn. Surely, we can't be taken in by something that is little more than a story?
But, let's see if you will be so dismissive when, as the ghost walk draws to its close, you are presented with the opportunity to perform the ritual and to recite the incantation as the cloying darkness wraps itself around you.
GOD BLESS US EVERY ONE!
And so, the curtain descends on Richard's Christmas ghost walk for 2016. You will have spent a little over 90 or so minutes wandering through 2,000 years of eventful and fascinating history whilst, simultaneously, twisting in and out of alleyways and courts that are so hidden that you might well have missed them had Richard not made a sudden turn and led you boldly into them.
You will have seen buildings where phantoms and wraiths are known to reside, and you will have heard ghost stories told to you by a true master of the genré whose spot on timing and story telling abilities are second to none.
But, above all else, you will have enjoyed an entertaining evening exploring the streets of one of the World's most haunted cities at a time of year when it is at its most eerie and atmospheric.
As Dickens himself put it 173 years ago, at the end of his most ghostly of ghostly tales - well, let's allow the original utterer of that famous Christmas message the final word - take it away Tiny Tim:-