Fallen trees block the streets and a dense fog encircles the houses of London, leaving YOU, dear Reader, still trapped at my hearthside for more ghoulish tales…
Okay, so maybe I’m confusing the city’s present conditions with its Great Smog of 1952 and Great Storm of 1987, but it sets a good atmosphere, ay? Besides, there really are people stranded here in London thanks to Frankenstorm on the US East Coast. So grab a cuppa or hot toddy and let’s burn another brick of peat on the fire, for today I will not only tell you about more haunted houses in London but also how ghosts affect their values!
Adding to our list of frightful finds last Friday, here are a couple more houses in London’s west and east sides that apparently go bump in the night…
25 Brook Street, Mayfair
This is the former home of none other than composer George Frederic Handel, who lived there for nearly forty years before dying there as well in 1759. The Handel House Trust leased the building’s upper storeys in 2000 and opened them as a museum to the public in 2001, and it was during the restoration in between that the Trust actually called in a priest when at least two people encountered an apparition. It appears to be a woman who leaves behind a scent of perfume—possibly one of the female sopranos who vied for roles Handel’s operas.
Next-door-neighbor #23’s former rock-star resident, Jimi Hendrix, had likewise claimed to see an otherwordly presence at that adjacent property. I believe he described it as looking like a “purple haze”… *hee*
The Queen’s House, Greenwich
Now of all the ghostly houses in London, this one really gives me chills—or maybe it’s just the fact that I refuse to turn up my heat now that British Gas raised energy prices…
Anyway, in southeast London stands a grand white manor dating from the 17th century and designed for King Charles I’s first wife. Fast-forward to the 1960s when a couple visiting from British Columbia snapped a photo of the mansion’s beautiful—and empty—Tulip staircase, only to develop the film and see two shrouded figures along its banister. Scrutinized by experts in a time well before Photoshop, the only conclusion drawn was that the two figures had to have been present when the picture was taken. Beyond that, there’s no rational explanation—at least not one of this world…
I can’t resist writing about this on the same evening “American Horror Story” Season 2 premiers in the UK. The series’ first season had centered on a heavily haunted home sold by an unscrupulous realtor who hadn’t revealed its sordid history.
Disclosing the Dead
Now, in the States, the seller does bear the burden of disclosing ghosts, as evidenced by a 1991 case in which the court declared a homeseller liable for not disclosing paranormal activity that the buyers had been unlikely to discover on their own prior to purchase.
In the UK, the Property Misdescriptions Act of 1991 does not specifically reference haunted houses, but it does hold sellers liable for false or misleading statements. Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 is likewise of the view that omission of material information that would have otherwise affected a consumer’s transactional decisions is a criminal offense. So then, theoretically at least, if you yourself are relocating to the nation’s capital and looking to buy here, then local estate agents should disclose to you any deaths or rumored hauntings associated with the houses in London you view. This could not only influence your selection but the price you get it for.
For example, the open knowledge that a woman had been murdered by a member of her family in a west Scottish village resulted in her home selling for 20% less its value barring that information. And according to The Independent, in 2008, the Clifton Hall mansion in England’s Nottinghamshire sold at barely over 75% its 2007 price after the sellers couldn’t handle its restless spirits anymore. So needless to say, if it seems any houses in London are selling for far less than they’re worth and still having difficulty attracting buyers, it could be more than just bad pipes clanking in the night…
They Ain’t Afraid of No Ghosts
Know this: the UK is perhaps more densely populated by ghosts and ghost-believers than any other nation in the world. This fact even reflects in their real estate research. The Portman Building Society (now merged with Nationwide) reported in 2005 that one in three British residents had lived in a house experienced or rumored to be haunted. Approximately the same number said they didn’t mind buying a house with a dark past, and three quarters weren’t bothered if a previous homeowner had died there. Just under half of respondents didn’t care if a property was saddled with evil spirits, and nearly 25% claimed they’d sooner bring in an exorcist than move out.
So the market for such residences could remain level after all, and the popularity of UK ghost-hunting shows has actually made haunted houses in London or the countryside desirable for eccentric buyers. The National Trust attests some of its properties do attract visitors for their ghosts (though it’ll also exorcise some on the down-low—see Sian Evans’s Mysterious Tales of the National Trust for some spooky stories). And the independent property company Sell Today deliberately seeks paranormally active places for their listings because they know some owners are desperate to sell them whereas others are keen to buy. They go so far as advertising they’ll:
“call on the services of psychic investigators, ‘ghost whisperers’ and exorcists if it’s a ghost that won’t behave.”
Well, on that note I leave you to ponder what lives were lived and lost in the houses in London that you visit—and whether any will be unwelcome flatmates once you relocate here…