7 Of The Scariest Places To Spend Halloween In London
1: The London Bridge Experience & Tombs
The chances of bumping into a tortured spirit at The London Bridge Experience & Tombs are pretty high when you factor in that the attraction is built on the site of a former plague pit – it’s even more creepy if you visit after dark. There is a fun Halloween show for the family during the day, but over-16s can join in with Phobophobia, now in its ninth year, which takes place after hours. Enter the Nightmare of the Ventriloquist, where no one can escape his control.
The puppets are out to play and want you to join in with their games, but they don’t have strings to hold them back and stop them from catching you. The ventriloquist doesn’t always get his experiment right, so as you move further through the vaults, discarded marionettes may be lurking in the shadows and they’re dying to meet you! Your heart will be thumping in your chest as you run for your life. You have been warned…
2: The Ragged School Museum
On a Haunted Happenings ghost hunt (29 Oct), once the doors are locked and the lights go out, there’s no going back. Noted for its apparitions and poltergeist activity, it’s little wonder some staff refuse to access certain parts of the school alone due to a sinister presence that haunts them. People have heard tormented cries, laughing and bangs – all of which have been recorded on sound devices. You might also hear the sound of footsteps in empty rooms and see strange lights floating around you in the basement.
The night begins with an introduction to the building – a doctor opened the school in 1867 before it closed in 1908 and reopened as a museum in 1990. Then you’ll take part in workshops to learn how to use the ghost-hunting equipment. If you want to, you can try out a ouija board, dowsing rods, glass divination and table tipping. Later on there are séances and lone vigils for the brave, where you can ask the spirits questions using a sensitive recorder – you might not hear any answers until you play it back. Sounds scary? It’s nothing compared to the lone vigil which takes place in the basement or upstairs cupboard. hauntedhappenings.co.uk
3: The London Dungeon
More than 300 women were accused of being a witch by Matthew Hopkins and murdered in witch trials between 1644 and 1646. Hopkins and his assistants would torture the women until they finally gained a confession, or they’d tie them to a chair and throw them in deep water – if they floated, they were deemed to be an evil witch, and if they drowned, they were innocent.
Hopkins believed the witches would possess a mark that was dead to all feeling, but if he didn’t find one, the accused would be pricked with knives or needles until one was found. At The London Dungeon (1-31 Oct), you’ll be lured into Hopkins’ witch-finders’ den to take part in a witch-hunt investigation. You’ll be subjected to tales of sorcery and witchcraft before Hopkins demands a confession. During the multi-sensory experience you can also meet a coven of witches, watch three witch shows and learn all about history’s greatest rogues and villains. There are also two thrilling rides and edge-of-the-seat surprises, so prepare to be scared!
4: The Magnificent Seven
Between 1832 and 1841, seven cemeteries – Kensal Green, West Norwood, Highgate, Abney Park, Nunhead, Brompton and Tower Hamlets – opened across London. As the resting place of Karl Marx, Highgate is the most famous of the Magnificent Seven, and you can see his grave while strolling its east side. You can also join a guided tour of the west side, which is home to creepy catacombs.
Abney Park in Stoke Newington, meanwhile, is now a nature reserve with a woodland walk that leads to a derelict gothic chapel. If that’s not spooky enough, then visit Kensal Green, an eerily beautiful resting place inspired by Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris. Unfortunately, its catacombs – with their strip lighting and coffins so old they’ve cracked open – are closed for restoration but you can still take a guided tour of the 72-acre’s 130 listed tombs, memorials and mausoleums every Sunday.
highgatecemetery.org, abneypark.org, kensalgreen.co.uk
5: Fulham Palace
Fulham Palace has events to suit visitors of all ages. Little ones can enjoy spooky-themed crafts, face-painting and a pumpkin parade in Bishop’s Park next door (30 Oct), while eight to 12-year-olds with a taste for all things ghoulish can take part in the palace’s Bones, Bats and Bumps in the Night workshop (25 Oct). As well as learning about the nocturnal world of owls, they’ll discover how bats hunt for insects using a high-frequency system that humans can’t hear before examining skeletons and doing a quiz.
Once night falls, the fear factor ramps up and 12 to 16-year-olds will squeal with terror on an after-hours ghost tour (30 Oct). They’ll hear spooky tales and be creeped out by ghostly apparitions. The following night, over-14s can join another after-hours ghost tour (31 Oct), during which they’ll hear footsteps in an empty hallway, try to open a door that won’t unlock and smell smoke – but who caused the fire? fulhampalace.org
6: BFI Southbank
Get spooked at the BFI Southbank, which is celebrating the 35th anniversary of Shock Treatment, the 1981 follow-up to the 1975 cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show (29 Oct). During the day you can meet the cast of the films, ask questions, get their autographs and have a Transylvanian makeover in time for the film screenings.
An international cast of Rocky Horror performers from the UK, America and Europe will perform numbers from both films live on stage while the films screen in the background. Later on you can join the cast and crew in the Benugo Bar & Kitchen for the Time Warp Ball, complete with Transylvanian cocktails and spooky tunes. Dressing up as your favourite characters from the film is encouraged. bfi.org.uk
7: Tower of London
We often wish that walls could talk, but in the case of the Tower of London you’ll be glad they don’t. Over the past 1,000 years it has seen the execution of 11 spies and is the resting place of tortured souls from its former prison in the long-gone chapel graveyard. Immerse yourself in its past (11 Oct) in Blood and Jewels, an after-hours illustration class. As you listen to chilling stories, you’ll sketch contemporary crowns made by the designer Hysteria Machine and a skull-faced catacomb saint, among other spooky subjects. hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london