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London's Haunted Pubs

Updated on November 13, 2017

There seem to be plenty of ghosts in the world, and London’s pubs have their share—probably more than their share. In the Grenadier Pub in the city’s Belgravia neighborhood, visitors have complained about feeling an icy chill that sometimes pervades the building and hearing the footsteps believed to be those of a murdered soldier caught cheating at cards there. Unidentified spirits rumble around the cellars of the George and the Viaduct Tavern. The spirits of a gang of body snatchers—or perhaps of the bodies they snatched—are said to have troubled staff and patrons of the Rising Sun.

But perhaps the most haunted of all is the Ten Bells.

Ten Bells and Jack the Ripper

The pub has been standing at the corner of Commercial Street and Fournier Street in Spitalfields in one reincarnation of another since at least 1752. It is most famous for the role it played in the tale of Jack the Ripper, the infamous Victorian serial killer and mutilator who is responsible for the deaths and dismemberment of at least five women between April 1888 and February 1891. (For a time in the 1970’s and 80’s the tavern on the corner was even called the Jack the Ripper Pub). One of the Ripper’s victims, Annie Chapman may have drunk there shortly before she was murdered, and it is said around the neighborhood that the Ripper entered the pub to call her outside before he killed her.

Another victim, Mary Kelly, who was at least a part-time prostitute, is supposed to have used the pavement outside of the pub to pick up clients. A woman named Elizabeth Foster also told newspaper reporters that she was with Kelly drinking in the Ten Bells during the evening hours on Nov. 8, 1888 the night Kelley was killed.

And Jack’s ghost may still frequent the building.

Live-in staff at the pub have reported close encounters with the ghost of an old man dressed in Victorian clothing, very close encounters. Some have said they awoke during the night to a phantom of the old Victorian man lying beside them on their beds. As soon as they cried out in shock, they said, the ghostly figure would vanish. Others reported seeing the same figure in other places around the building. Additionally, someone living on the premises in 2001 reported hearing footsteps followed by the faint sound of laughter outside his door, all at a time when he thought he was the only person on the building. Going down the stairs to the bar, he also reported, he would sometimes feel a push on his back from strong hands, which on several occasions actually knocked him down the stairs.

When he looked behind him, however, or up from the bottom of the stairs, no one was there.

The ghost of Jack the Ripper?

The Pub Today

On the wall opposite the current bar of the Ten Bells is a large sign listing the victims of Jack the Ripper. Although it is generally accepted by most of the historians that the Ripper killed only five victims, the large sign shows six, with the name of Martha Tabram added to the traditional list of five women. Tabram, another East End prostitute, was brutally was stabbed thirty-nine time and killed in August 1888.

Was the Ripper’s work part of a ritual slaying and mutilation, as some suggest?

Traditionally such a rite requires the killing and mutilation of five victims. But one of what is called the “Canonical five” Jack the Ripper’s generally-acceptedvictms, Elizabeth Stride, was not mutilated. So, adding to the list the name of Martha Tabram, who with thirty-nine stab wounds could easily be considered mutilated, quickly bring the list back to the required five names.

And hints that the Ten Bells may know more than it is saying.

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