Halloween's looming and your spine’s probably in the mood for a tingle. You could head over to the London Dungeon or tag onto a Ripper tour but there are far creepier chills lurking out there:
1. Lower Robert Street
We cabbies call this nifty cut-through the ‘Batcave’; an ominous, deserted tunnel near the Strand where the only sound is that of your engine rumbling off of the grimy brick walls. It’s apparently haunted - natch - by an unfortunate soul called Poor Jenny who was strangled down there in the nineteenth century.
2. Hardy’s Tree
Tucked away in Old St Pancras churchyard, this ring of gravestones around a tree marks a mass grave. The occupants were churned up and shifted here to make way for St Pancras station. The chap responsible for this dire exhumation was gloomy novelist Thomas Hardy, who studied architecture before turning to writing. In his poem, ‘The Levelled Churchyard’ Hardy likened the burial pit to a grisly mixture of 'human jam'.
3. St Olave Hart Street church
Head to St Olave’s side gate - located on the menacingly named Seething Lane - and you’ll encounter a gruesome gaggle of skulls guarding the stone archway. No wonder Charles Dickens nicknamed this church in the City 'St Ghastly Grim'. Its graveyard is also the final resting place of a mysterious figure known only as Mother Goose. Unsettling stuff.
4. Nuclear Nightmare
The Cold War was downright chilly when the giant ‘Nuclear Dawn’ mural materialised on Brixton’s Coldharbour Lane in 1981. It’s faded a little since, but the towering sower of atomic death remains a horrifying metaphor. For extra impact, try blasting ‘Man at C&A’ by ‘The Specials’ through your headphones whilst contemplating this mushroom-cloud laying mother.
5. Mind your ‘ead
It may appear to be a generic piece of modern architecture, but this massive spike at the end of London Bridge that looms over thousands of commuters is in fact a subtle nod to the days when traitors’ heads were lopped off, drenched in tar and plonked on the southern gate of old London Bridge as a warning to any ne’er-do-wells. Crime prevention has come a long way since then.
6. Richmond Park
Think deer are cute? Try taking a stroll through Richmond Park on an early autumn morning. Meet the resident stags, whose eerie, guttural mating calls groan through the mist like something out of a Hammer Horror flick. Then flee in terror as the alpha-males charge towards you, antlers at the ready for a scrap. Bambis they ain't.
Photograph: KnowledgeofLondon.com. Illustration: Robert Lordan
7. Amen Court
Peer through the gates of Amen Court and you'll catch a glimpse of the last surviving part of the dreaded Newgate Gaol. The area is supposedly haunted by the petrifying Black dog of Newgate, a ghostly mutt said to be the incarnation of a former prisoner who was cannibalised by his fellow inmates and returned in supernatural canine form to wreak brutal revenge. Yikes.
8. Crystal Palace Park
If you’re after an eerie end-of-civilisation kinda vibe, Crystal Palace Park certainly fits the bill. Here you can wander amongst the ruins of the once mighty glass structure which stood here until it was levelled by fire in 1936. Today, all that remains are a gaggle of staircases, sphinxes and statues - many of which have been vandalised and left headless.