International Urban Legends: England

The tour of the United Kingdom comes to its conclusion in England. And do the British have an impressively spooky collection of urban legends to offer. Here’s just three of them.

The Screams of the Dead

The best urban legends are those rooted in events known to have actually occurred. One of England’s most terrifying legends comes from World War II. East London’s Bethnal Green Station is the location of one of the worst civilian tragedy in all of the war for the Island Kingdom.

It wasn’t German bombs during the blitz, or fire or shrapnel that claimed 173 civilian lives that day. No, the killer was panic.

A regular test of an air raid siren sent panicked people scrambling for the nearest shelter, the underground station at Bethnal Green. Someone tripped, which caused another to trip which created a dominoe effect of people falling to the ground where they were then crushed under a human stampede.

Of the 173 dead, 41 were children. Eight decades later, staff and passengers in the station late at night often hear women screaming and children crying when no one else is about.

The Faceless Woman

It seems the Tube, Londoner for the subway trains, is a popular place for spirits and legends. Beacontree Station is small and not worthy of any note when you look it over. But it has a very creepy spirit roaming about and you probably don’t want to encounter her.

The most popular legend surrounding the Faceless Woman comes from the early 1990s when a station worker was closing up for the night. He heard his office door rattle and opened up to see who was there.

He found a woman, standing on the platform. She was blonde, wearing a white dress… hey, wait a minute, I think our White Lady from all over the American Midwest is traveling on us. But back to Beacontree Station. When the station worker walked up to the woman, she turned to face him. Only where her face should have been was a blank void.

Legend has it she is the ghost of a victim of a train crash in the late 1950s. As for why she among the ten that were killed that day still hangs about, not even legend can begin to fathom the answer.

The Tulip Staircase Ghost

Back in the mid-1960s the Rev. Ralph Hardy visited the Queens House in Greenwich. He took a picture of the infamous Tulip staircase, continued his tour and then went home. On the way he stopped to drop the film off to be developed.

Typical day for a tourist, right?

Except the good Reverend had just taken what would become one of the most infamous supernatural photographs in history. Because when he got his photos back he saw this:

Is this photo from England proof of life after death?

The 1966 photo of the Tulip Staircase Ghost in Greenwich, England.

Word of the phot got out and the British Ghost Club was called in to investigate. After a seance, the investigators found quite a lot going on in the house. The records of that investigation are as mysterious as the photo above.

It starts with ringing bells. Twenty minutes later, a distant bell and a damp smell in the air are recorded. After that, no one knows what happened. Because the handwriting disintegrates into illegible scrawls and ends in the kind of scribbles you would expect to see in a madman’s cell in an asylum. Then, the writing simply… stops.

No one from the club who was there that night has ever spoken of what happened, at least on the record.

About the author

Richard Paolinelli