A relocation to London can come with many bumps in the road—most of which our London Relocation agents will help you avoid. But what of the bumps in the night? Mwahahahaaa…
I confess that today I’m in a particularly spooky mood after watching The Woman in Black and Dorian Gray over the weekend. Both are based on books authored—and taking place—in England (for more scary UK reads, see my post “London Literacy – The Halloween Edition”). I can always go for a good supernatural tale, something all the more encouraged by my relocation.
There’s no question there’s a fascination with ghosts in England, as your own relocation will make you well aware, and it seems largely related to the overall fascination with the past here. It’s unavoidable in a country as old and historically significant as this, and its cobbled roads, sooty bricks, weathered headstones, grey skies, windy shores, and barren moors all add up to the perfect Gothic setting for a dark imagination. Whether you’re a lifelong local or making a temporary relocation to London, your freakish fancy will be captured, and it’s only a matter of time when perhaps you, too, are hearing whispers in the wind or seeing shadows out the corner of your eye…
“For I must confess I had the Londoner’s sense of superiority in those days, the half-formed belief that countrymen, and particularly those who inhabited the remoter corners of our island, were more superstitious […] than we cosmopolitans.” —from Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black
Your relocation won’t be without its trips to the countryside, and you’ll realize from a glance out the train window what an agrarian society the English really are. I love the solitude of the rolling green hills and little stony towns, but those growing up in smaller villages often do dream of making their own relocation to broaden their opportunities and perspectives—or is it to escape the spectres?! For bear in mind that the peaceful country getaways to follow your relocation could be less days of decompression than nights of decomposition…EEEE-hee-hee-heeeee!! [or however a cackle is spelled]
The Cornish have traditionally believed in fairies as affiliated with the dead, a belief likely stemming from ancient Celtic folk tales. In Northumberland, “dobbies” (or “dobies”) dwell in ravines, under bridges, on the road, or in specific homes. Similar locales in the southwest as well as North Midlands and Yorkshire are haunted by “hobs” or “hobbits,” and at sites of violent death in northern England, mischievous “boggarts” pinch, bite, rustle fabrics, and crawl into beds. There are also the spirits that inhabit castles and forts, which are known as “powries” or “dunters.” The list of netherworldly nicknames goes on and on, a testament to the rich ghostly tradition you’ll encounter after your relocation—but not just outside of the city.
Ah, for you’re probably thinking that a relocation to London’s metropolis will spare you local superstition and lore. Not a chance! If not ghosts, you’ll spot ghost tours immediately after your relocation. The Ghost Bus Tour is a fantastic one that’ll have you screaming and giggling like a schoolghoul.
This must be a lucrative business in a city as piled with the dead—if you don’t believe me, the “hills” in grassy corporate gardens downtown are burial mounds, as is there a massive plague pit between South Kensington and Knightsbridge tube stations that you can literally feel the Piccadilly Line train curve around (because they couldn’t very well dig a tunnel through it!). If your relocation takes you to east-central London, the Smithfield Market area is rife with ghosts as the former site of executions; many of the executed were imprisoned nearby at the Old Bailey. Look for the plaque at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital commemorating William “Braveheart” Wallace’s execution there and ask the nearby Viaduct Tavern if you can see the prisoner cells in their basement. Jack the Ripper disembowelled women near Brick Lane, which has surely yielded some paranormal prostitutes, and though “Scratching Fanny of Cock Lane” (the dead woman who scratched at the floorboards after having made a relocation from Norfolk and died of smallpox) turned out to be a hoax, man, did it make for a priceless headline that’s entrenched in London legend.
There are plenty more ghosts where those came from—read my four-part “Relocation to London UK – London’s Favorite Old Haunts” series for a few. But hopefully I’m not frightening you out of a relocation; that would be really bad for business. 🙂