Get spooked out at London’s scariest sights – be brave and go on cemetery tours, dungeon adventures and ghost hunts.
Have you got what it takes to survive London over Halloween? Visit the capital’s Victorian cemeteries, an ancient prison and dungeons or go on a ghost tour to find out, says Sarah Riches
What with the plague, wars and the great fire, London has more than its fair share of tortured souls.
The question is, where will you find them this Halloween? Start your hunt at one of the Magnificent Seven cemeteries – Kensal Green, West Norwood, Highgate, Abney Park, Nunhead, Brompton and Tower Hamlets – which were built between 1832 and 1841. See the grave of Karl Marx at Highgate, explore a derelict Gothic chapel in Abney Park or visit Kensal Green, an eerily beautiful resting place inspired by Paris’s Père Lachaise cemetery. Every Sunday you can take a guided tour of the 72-acre’s 130 listed tombs, memorials and mausoleums ( Highgate Cemetery, Swain’s Lane, N6 6PJ; Abney Park Cemetery, Stoke Newington High St, N16 0L; Kensal Green Cemetery, Harrow Rd, W10 4RA).
Alternatively, take a Haunted Happenings ghost hunt around The Ragged School
Museum (29 Oct). Once the doors are locked and the lights go out, there’s no going back. Noted for its apparitions and poltergeist activity, some members of staff refuse to access parts of the school alone. Tormented cries, laughter and bangs have been recorded on sound devices and you might also hear footsteps in empty rooms. Try out a ouija board, dowsing rods, glass divination and table tipping, ask spirits questions using a sensitive recorder in séances or brave a lone vigil in an upstairs cupboard or the basement – if you dare ( The Ragged School Museum, 46-50 Copperfield Rd, E3 4RR).
The London Dungeon (p. 27) will lure you into a witch-finder’s den that’s inspired by Matthew Hopkins, a witch-hunter in the 1600s. During the multi-sensory experience you’ll be subjected to tales of sorcery and witchcraft before ‘Hopkins’ demands a confession. You’ll also meet a coven of witches, watch witch shows and hear about history’s greatest rogues. The chances of bumping into a tortured spirit at The London Bridge Experience & Tombs (22-31 Oct; p. 27) are high when you factor in that the attraction is built on a former plague pit. Over 16s can join in with Phobophobia and enter into the Nightmare of the Ventriloquist. The puppets want you to join in their games, but beware – they don’t have strings to hold them back. Sounds too scary? Then lower the fear factor at the Tower of London’s after-hours illustration class, Blood and Jewels (11 Oct; p. 28). As you hear legends, such as an attempted theft by Colonel Blood, you’ll sketch contemporary crowns made by the designer Hysteria Machine as well as costumed characters including Kika von Macabre and a catacomb saint dressed in gold and pearls. Spooky!
Clockwise from this picture: Kensal Green Cemetery; Tower of London; a witch at The London Dungeon