When the nights draw in and the leaves start to fall, you know Halloween is just around the corner. Jo Caird braves the most spooky events and creepiest haunts in the capital – visit them at your own peril!
Are you brave enough to walk in Hampton Court Palace’s Haunted Gallery after nightfall? It’s here that the restless ghost of Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of King Henry VIII, is said to linger, reliving the moment when she escaped her guards and ran down this corridor to plead with Henry for her life in the lead-up to her execution in 1542. Catherine is not the only spirit to haunt the palace – Henry’s third wife, Jane Seymour, has been spotted walking through the cobbled courtyard of Clock Court, while a dog has been seen and heard in the Wolsey Closet. Nab a spot on the palace’s Ghost Tour (from 31 Oct; p. 26) for a chance to glimpse these figures for yourself, and hear the spine-tingling stories that surround them.
It’s just one of the ghostly goings-on in London this month to mark the arrival of Halloween. Benjamin Franklin House (p. 37) and Handel House Museum (p. 37) are open late on 30 Oct as part of the nationwide Museums at Night festival – the only remaining residence of the US President is hosting a talk about the spooky skeletal remains of up to 10 people found beneath the basement floor, while there’s music by candlelight at the home of the great Baroque composer, Handel. Mysterious happenings are explored at Kensington Palace, too, on the Eerie Evening Tour (from 29 Oct; p. 28), a chance to explore the secrets of royals and courtiers past at this beautiful palace.
There are special Halloween events taking place at The London Dungeon (p. 28) all month, with a new character, the Master of Tricks, taking up residence and challenging visitors with forfeits, dares and horrible surprises.
At The London Bridge Experience & Tombs, Phobophobia (24-31 Oct; p. 28) brings to life your worst nightmares, from being held hostage to being locked in a cage.
If you love the idea of adrenaline-pumping Halloween fun, head to theme park Thorpe Park for its Fright Nights, where you’ll find horror mazes based on films such as The Blair Witch Project and SAW (from 10 Oct).
Younger visitors to the capital and their families should check out the Witch Academy at the Coca-Cola London Eye (24-31 Oct; p. 28; above), where green-tinged ‘teachers’ lead storytelling sessions high in the sky for aspiring witches and wizards and their families. And there’s pumpkin carving and other creepy crafts taking place at Art Deco mansion Eltham Palace (26-31 Oct; p. 26; left), so you can perfect your skills in time for the night itself. Happy Halloween!