Monday, June 8, 2009

No. 50, Berkeley Square

In times past, the 18th-century house at No. 50, Berkeley Square, was known as "the most haunted house in London". A certain upstairs room had an evil reputation; it was said that nobody could spend a night in it without dying of fear or going incurably insane.

The ghosts of No. 50 are found throughout the house. The ghost of a young woman has been seen clinging to the outside of a window, screaming for help; evidently, a woman named Adeline fell from that same window in an attempt to escape her uncle, whose intentions were, to say the least, dishonorable.

Another ghost is seen upstairs. She sobs and wrings her hands. This little girl met her death at the hands of a truly sadistic servant, who either tortured or frightened her to death.

The worst ghost is the one that haunts the sinister upstairs room. One rumor has it that a previous tenant kept his insane brother in the room, only feeding him through the door due to his extremely violent nature. The ghost of this brother is said to haunt the room, as well as other areas of the house. Some reports state that the ghost is a sort of shapeless mass; others, that it is the figure of a man with his mouth gaping open. All agree that it is a horrifying sight.

In the 1870s, neighbors reported hearing loud sounds coming from the house - bells ringing, windows opening, furniture being move. When anyone investigated, the house was quiet and peaceful.

At one point in the house's history, a maid was given the haunted room as her bedroom. Not long after everyone had gone to bed, her screams sent the entire household running to her room. She was found lying on the floor, eyes bulging, and died the following day at St. George's Hospital. She could only say that what she had seen was "horrible".

30-year-old Sir Robert Warboys accepted a wager of 100 guineas that he would not be able to spend the night alone in the room. A bell was set up so that he could ring for help, if needed. The rest of the party remained in the drawing room while Sir Robert occupied the haunted room, armed with his pistol. The agreement was that Sir Robert would ring twice if he needed help.

Shortly before 2 o'clock in the morning, a faint ring of the bell was quickly followed by a loud peal. The others ran upstairs to the room, hearing a gunshot ring out. When they entered the room, Sir Robert was lying across the bed, dead, with a terrified expression on his face.

In 1872, Lord Lyttleton slept in the haunted room, with two shotguns for company. He claimed that something leaped at him from the dark, so he fired one of the guns at it. The ghost disappeared.

In the 1880s, the house's reputation still as active as ever, two sailors decided to spend the night in it, after drinking all their money. The house, not surprisingly, was empty at the time. The two of them broke in, and having found the downstairs to be unlivable, went upstairs to find a place to sleep. Of course, they settled on the haunted room.

Later that night, the two men heard the sound of bare feet mounting the stairs. There was something very sinister about the sound. The two of them watched as the footsteps approached the room, then the door opened and a horrifying specter entered. One of the sailors dodged around it and ran. Running pell-mell down the street, he cannoned into a policeman, and dragged him back to the house.

They found the body of the other sailor impaled on the railings in front of the house, underneath the window of the haunted room.

At the end of the nineteenth century, the house was owned by a man who hired an elderly couple to take care of it. They were never allowed to enter the haunted room. Every six months, the man would visit the house, lock the couple in the basement, and spend hours in the room.

No. 50 is now occupied by antiquarian booksellers. Depending on the reports you read, either no strange occurrences have happened, or a cleaning woman saw a brownish mist in one room, while an employee had his glasses snatched off his face and thrown across the room. It is said that in the 1950s, the police gave notice that the top floor of the house, which was "unsound", was not to be used for anything - not even storage. The notice is still in effect.

As an eerie footnote, one of the streets leading to Berkeley Square is Bruton Street - once the residence of the murderous Metyards (see A London Ghost).

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