THE SPECTRAL SUNDAY SUPERNATURAL WALK
GUIDED BY LONDON'S LONGEST
ESTABLISHED GHOST WALK GUIDE
Day draws to a close. Coal black night rolls through the historic heartland of London, and in its wake come menacing shadows that twist themselves into tormented forms that writhe across the time-raddled walls of one of the City's most haunted quarters.
They beckon to you to follow them into forgotten corners of the hidden City where a legion of lost souls have been just dying to make your acquaintance.
These are the City's eternal residents. Forlorn phantoms and roaming revenants that - either by dastardly deeds or sad twists of tragic fate - have found themselves earthbound, condemned to wander the places that their living selves knew intimately.
And, because the City of London is at its most deserted, and because the streets and alleyways are at their darkest and spookiest on a Sunday night, you are in for a chilling creeper of a ghost walk, in the course of which you will visit the places where the aforementioned ghosts are known to lurk.
DARE YOU WATCH FOR THE WATCHER?
Having welcomed you to the City of the Dead, your guide - who will be suitably attired in his trademark 19th century undertaker's outfit - will lead you down a cobbled hill on the slopes of which he will pause and ask you to gaze into a dark passageway.
As your eyes attempt to focus on its dancing shadows, you will hear the story of " The Watcher"; an eerie spectre if ever there was one, as it does nothing more than - well, errrrr - watch.
You will hear the accounts given by those who have encountered it and will see if you yourself will become one of the fortunate few to endure the ordeal of gazing into its hollow eyes as it stares back at you from the dark recesses of the courtyard.
SAY HELLO TO JIMMY GARLICK
Having moved down the slopes of the hill, we come to a shuddering halt outside one of the City of London's most haunted and historic churches.
Strange and bizarre things aplenty are known to go on within its ancient walls.
Many of the inexplicable happenings centre on the mummified remains of a former Londoner who nobody really knows anything about but who has, for as long as anyone can remember, been known as "Jimmy Garlick" for reasons we'll go into when we arrive outside his eternal abode.
His hauntings are well known - and well documented - and Richard will delight in leading you, so to speak, through them.
You'll even get to see him, because Richard will pass around a photograph of him so that you can see for yourself the sort of reaction he has elicited from those who have encountered his spectral form inside the church.
THE RED EYED GLOWING FIEND
Having been chilled and thrilled by the phantom escapades of Mr. Garlick esq. [Deceased], we will move on through a delightful warren of old and historic streets in which every corner turned will throw up some surprising sights.
None more so than a narrow thoroughfare lined with atmospheric old buildings from the walls of which bizarre stone faces, their expressions twisted into strange grimaces and sinister leers that, when you actually notice them, are, to say the least, unsettling.
One face in particular has been known to cause a certain amount of trepidation amongst participants on the ghost walk as several people have reported that its eyes - which are black and hollow at the best of times - begin to glow red!
Now, in fairness, it may simply be a trick of the light. It could even be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. You might even be tempted to claim that there's more of gravy than of grave about it.
But then again, as Scrooge - from whose mouth the preceding utterance actually came - found out, ghosts can do an awful lot in one night. So the mere minute or so for which we linger and look at the malevolent stone face are as nothing to an entity that has been lingering for decades, and those who have encountered what one witness described as the "red eyed glowing fiend" have been absolutely terrified by it, whatever it is!
The question is, will you join their number?
BATHED IN SHADOWS, ALIVE WITH THE DEAD
From here we continue through the City of dreadful night where many more phantom residents await our arrival.
Indeed, so haunted is this section of London that it could almost be said to be alive with the dead.
There is the ghostly chorister who is reluctant to let a little thing like death prevent her from enjoying her favourite pursuits in the City's hidden streets.
There is a church that was built by, and inside which was buried, London's most legendary Lord Mayor - Sir Richard Whittington.
Sadly, he wasn't destined to lie buried in his church for that long as a covetous clergyman, tempted by the allure of the treasure that was reputedly buried with him, had him exhumed and, when no treasure was found, had his cadaver put on public display.
There is the ghostly plane that caused more than a few raised eyebrows when it flew over the City in 1937 and about which questions were actually asked in Parliament.
There is the esteemed City building through the corridors of which a ghostly servant girl is known to walk her weary way, day in and day out, night in and night out.
But, in addition to the ghostly activity, there is a great deal of history with which to entice you into this quarter of the City.
There are some terrific old buildings to look at, atmospheric old thoroughfares to squeeze along and some absolutely amazing street furniture to look at and photograph.
TALES FROM THE VAULT
Then comes a truly chilling location. It matters not what the weather is doing. In the depths of the coldest winter or the highs of the hottest summer this location emanates just one temperature - chilling!
Perhaps it is the knowledge that in a vault somewhere in its darkness, lie deposited the remains of hundreds of Londoners who, over a period of some 400 years, were buried in a churchyard that once stood on this site.
Until, that is, the laying of the District Line in 1884 necessitated their eviction.
Those poor souls - who had, until then, enjoyed the luxury of their own self-contained resting spaces, now suffered the indignity of being lifted from the cold earth to be unceremoniously crammed together en masse in a burial vault that nestles in this sinister little corner of the old City.
Be honest. How would such a disturbance make you feel?
Needless to say, some of them didn't take kindly to having their eternal rest so rudely interrupted and they duly made their displeasure known in the only way open to a self-respecting spectre - by resorting to paranormal activity.
Richard will regale you with tales from the vault, or at least accounts from those who have encountered a certain something that may, or may not, be the restless revenant of one of those who lie interred beyond the mesh fencing that either protects them from the living, or the living from them, dependent on how you view these things!
THE DEAD CENTRE
All this brings us to the exact centre - the dead centre, so to speak - of the City of London.
Here we encounter an alleyway the very threshold of which is haunted by a sinister something that even fearless police dogs are known to back away from. What it is we just don't know, as the creeped out canines are unable to enlighten their handlers as to the source of their evident distress other than to proffer a few yelps and whines as they pull back from the encounter with whatever unseen entity is lurking at the entrance to the court.
But we, fearless ghost hunters that we are - albeit Richard will happily let you go first - will venture into the darkness - and it really is dark on a Sunday night - and stand in the creepy alley.
Here you will listen to tales of the ghostly form that is known to appear from one of the walls and which drifts over the flagstones to disappear into the wall of a hostelry where its arrival is often marked by an awful lot of poltergeist activity!
THE CURSE OF BOW BELLS
Onwards and forwards then to the church, the very church, wherein hang the fabled Bow Bells, the being born within the sound of which is the mark of a true cockney.
But it is also a church with many a sinister secret lurking deep within its hallowed fabric and a legion of sinister tales come marching from the misty depths of its chequered past.
Tales of murder and witchcraft, burnings, black magic rituals, and sorcery abound.
When you add to these aforementioned nefarious goings-on the fact that the church tower was long believed to be cursed - well it did keep falling on people over a period of several hundred years - you will understand why Richard will speak a little faster at this spot, eager to make a quick exit before who knows what happens to who knows who.
THE FOUL SMELL OF RANCID FLESH
Picture the scene. It's 2004, and a group of paranormal investigators are conducting a hunt for the ghosts at one of the City of London's most esteemed buildings. The one you will be standing outside as Richard begins his next ghostly tale.
Prior to their search getting underway they are being taken around by the building's Beadle. Suddenly, he stops and turns to the group. A smile cracks his lips as he looks them square in the face and, with a glint in his eye, utters words that are guaranteed to send a wave of sheer ecstasy coursing through the veins of any ghost hunter worth his or her salt - "they're all here and they're very happy to have you here for the evening."
He goes on to explain that he has experienced so much paranormal activity inside the building that the ghosts have, quite literally, become "like old friends" who frequently communicate with him.
CAN YOU PHOTOGRAPH THE GHOST?
Standing outside this very building, you will have the opportunity to sniff for "the smell of rancid flesh" that has been known to come drifting up from the building's basement.
This is also the location at which people on Richard's haunted tours have also managed to snap what may, or may not, be a ghostly form that looks down on us from one of the building's large and ornate windows.,
What better souvenir could you hope to take away from a London ghost walk than your very own phantom caught on film, or, more likely, on memory card?
However, in the words of the aforementioned Beadle, after he had lulled said investigators into a false sense of security with his talk of the ghosts being pleased to see them, "be careful because they're not all friendly."
You have been warned!
THE SHADOW MAN COMETH
Leaving whatever forces, friendly or otherwise, are at large inside the walls of this old building, we dive into a narrow, twisting alleyway that snakes its way between high walls
It's most certainly a spooky spot and one at which you might not wish to linger at for too long, as it is also haunted by the shade of the "shadow man"
Now, to be honest, as hauntings go, this is not a particularly dramatic one because the "shadow man", as his name implies, is nothing more than - well, a shadow.
Furthermore, he doesn't do a great deal. In the words of one witness "he was there and then he wasn't".
So, reading this in the comfort and warmth of your living room or office, you might be inclined to dismiss him as a harmless legend. An urban myth.
But then, being dismissive of a visitor from beyond the veil can have repercussions and, in the case of "the shadow man", those repercussions have entailed him following late night wanderers through this very alleyway and walking so close behind them that they can, not only smell the pungent aroma of his foul breath, but also feel it on the backs of their necks. Scoff at that, if you dare!
A SPECTACULAR FINALÉ
Emerging from the shadows of the night and colliding head on with the 21st century that, strangely, we have managed to keep well and truly at bay for almost two hours, the tour draws to a close beneath the majestic shadow of St Paul's Cathedral which will loom over us like some phantom bird of prey.
It will make for a suitably spectacular ending to our ghost walk and will afford you with plenty of opportunity to photograph it from all angles.
Indeed, you may even wish to cross to the other side (of the road, that is) and ascend in a glass elevator to a roof top terrace from which you will enjoy a truly stunning view of, not just St Paul's Cathedral but also of the London skyline looking west and looking south.
SPEND A NIGHT WITH THE SPIRITS
So, if you are looking for an entertaining, though slightly chilling, evening exploring the historic and haunted streets of one of London's oldest quarters, then why not book yourself onto the Spectral London Ghost Walk, and let the City's undisputed Ghost Finder general spirit you through the ages on a tour that will be fascinating and frightening in equal measure but which, above all else, will be thoroughly entertaining for young and old alike.