February half-term in London: the best things to do
Get stuck into London’s many special half-term events with the whole family this 16 to 23 February 2019.
10th October 2017
Stepping into this historic covered shopping arcade – which has been open since 1819 – feels like you’ve stepped into a London from times past. The high-end boutiques and shops give it a feeling of glamour and tranquillity. This isn’t always the case though. A poltergeist by the name of Percy has apparently been a resident of the arcade since 1953. Percy occasionally visits a leather shop and a tobacconist there, moving items from the shelves and arranging them in semi-circles during the night. Now that’s spooky.
Just across the road from The Athenaeum is Green Park, a gorgeous Royal Park perfect for daytime strolls. Yet the park hasn’t always been such a calm place. In previous centuries, Green Park was a popular duelling spot as there were no restrictions on ‘sword-drawing’ there. On 11 January 1696, Sir Henry Colt and a man known as ‘Beau’ Fielding – the lover of the Duchess of Cleveland – were involved in one of these infamous duels. Both survived, but on 11 January ever since, there have been reports of people hearing battle sounds…
This Grade I listed townhouse at 94 Piccadilly was the home of the Naval and Military Club from 1865 to 1999. A private members club for officers and gentlemen of the British Armed Forces, the club’s former home in Piccadilly is said to be haunted by Major William Henry Braddell. When visiting the club to dine with friends in May 1940, he stepped out of the dining room to take a telephone call. When he returned, the room had been bombed. Just a week later, Braddell himself was killed in an air raid. In the 1990s, a member of staff saw an apparition of Braddell wearing his World War Two trench coat. They say he returned to Cambridge House because it’s the place he felt most at home in the world.
This luxury department store – whose building dates back to the 1700s – has a number of skeletons in its closet. One of the store’s ghosts is said to be Mr Gaius Backholder, who used to run the grocery department there. He’s said to reside in the wine crypt nowadays, and he occasionally causes havoc down there by throwing bottles from the shelves. We’ve never known anyone to hate wine that much.
This street just off Piccadilly is a tiny 21 metres long. Number 10 Vine Street used to be the Vine Street Police Station between the 18th century and the 1990s. After an officer died in the police station in the 1920s, the building was said to become haunted. There were reports of unexplained loud footsteps in the building and papers being moved around. The building has since been demolished and redeveloped…
This Art Deco theatre just behind Piccadilly Circus is said to be haunted by a former actress, Evelyn Laye CBE. Ironically, she was also known as ‘Boo’ while she was alive. Her photo hangs in the theatre’s office, but when it was taken down several years ago, poltergeist activity intensified. When it was replaced again, things became a lot calmer.
Just a stone’s throw from Green Park underground station is Berkeley Square, a pristine Mayfair square with wonderful gardens open to the public. Number 50 has a not-so-pleasant history, however. Now known as one of the most haunted houses in London, 50 Berkeley Square is said to be haunted by a young woman who died in the house. Over the decades that followed, various inhabitants and guests to the house have become severely affected by the ghostly presence in the house. One such person, Lord George Lyttelton, ended up firing his shotgun at an apparition in the middle of the night.
Luckily, guests at The Athenaeum get a much better night’s sleep than the visitors to our haunted neighbours. Soak up the spooky atmosphere by taking yourself on a self-guided walking tour around these spots in London, or embark on one of London’s ghost tours, such as the London Ghost Bus Tour or London Ghost Walks. Keep calm, because Halloween is coming…VIEW ACCOMMODATION
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