In the heart of London’s Mayfair is a grand four-floor townhouse that looks much like all the other beautiful buildings in the area. But this house has a dark secret. In the 19th century, 50 Berkeley Square became known as the ‘most haunted house in London.’ But where did this reputation come from?
Built in the early 1700s by the architect William Kent. Popular historical figures have lived there such as the Prime Minister George Canning.
The legend about the house varies, but most versions state that the attic room of the house is haunted by the spirit of a young woman who committed suicide there. She purportedly threw herself from a top-floor window after being abused by her uncle and is said to frighten people to death. People have said the spirit takes the form of a brown mist, though sometimes as a white figure.
From 1859 until the early 1870s a Mr Thomas Myers lived in the house. This is where the mysterious events started to occur. Mr Myers was soon to be married and had furnished the house for the soon to be Mrs Myers, but his fiancée jilted him. The heartbroken Mr Myers became a recluse. He moved into the attic and slept during the day. He never saw a living soul and walked through the house at night only with a candle in his hand.
During Mr Myers residence in the house it fell into gross disrepair, and its reputation developed. In 1873, the local council sued him for failing to pay his rates. Neighbours were scared of the strange lights and noises at night and its mad inhabitant. When he did not appear in court, the magistrate excused him because he lived in a haunted house. He then slowly went mad and died.
A series of people who have stayed in this same attic have experienced a ‘strange brown mist’ – many of them going insane or dying. A maid was sent up to the room to make a bed for a visiting man, but no sooner had she gone upstairs, she let out a blood-curdling scream. The household rushed to her aid and found her collapsed on the floor, muttering to herself, ‘don’t let it touch me.’ She died in hospital the next day.
It is alleged that on a bet, Lord Lyttleton stayed a night in the building’s attic. He brought his shotgun with him and fired at an apparition. In the morning, he attempted to find the apparition, but could only find shotgun cartridges.
One of the most well-known stories about the haunting of 50 Berkeley Square is the tale of two sailors who broke in. Needing a place to stay, they bedded down in the attic. They were awoken in the night to the sound of footsteps coming up the stairs. As the door creaked open, they came face to face with a strange, shapeless creature with an enormous gaping mouth, which seemed to slither into the room. Seized with panic, the two men tried to make their escape. One backed up towards the window while the other rushed past the creature and made his way down the staircase to the safety of the street. The escaped man returned with a police officer, only to find a smashed window. Looking out the window, they saw the lifeless body of the sailor’s friend impaled on the iron railings below.
The Mayfair Magazine printed an article in 1879, which stated that a maid had a strange encounter in the attic room that had turned her mad. They put her into in an asylum, where she died. She was said to be the maid of a man and his two teenage daughters. The eldest daughter disliked the smell in the house, which reminded her of the animals in the zoo.
Over the last few decades tales of hauntings are few, but in 2001 a cleaner, while working in the upper room, had the overwhelming feeling that someone was watching her. Around the same time, an employee witnessed a strange brown mist suddenly appear in the upper room.
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