GHOSTS, as Ambrose Bierce said, may be only “the outward and visible sign of an inward fear,” but England and Scotland teem with stories of spine-chilling nomads who won’t stay put, but have spent centuries poking around and frightening the life out of people. No. 50 Berkeley Square, London, is a notoriously haunted house. The very walls of the house have been described as “saturated with electric horror,” and people living in the place have been known to go off their heads and die terrified. Presumably these also come back to haunt the place, so the whole business is a vicious circle!
London has, of course, a veritable feast of haunted houses. From time to time whispers have gone abroad about this mansion, or that; but, with very few exceptions, these reports appear to be idle gossip. An empty house, shuttered, silent, uncared-for, will soon earn, in any part of the world, a reputation for something sinister, whether it be ghosts or — accepting the more prosaic theory — nothing more harmful than vagrants and squatters. But of all the haunted houses there, none has stood the test of time nor earned a greater reputation than the house in Berkeley Square. This mansion has attracted attention on account of its position in the very heart of London, from the terrible nature of the supernatural phenomena of which it is said to be the scene, and from the fact that it is the setting of one of the most famous ghost stories in existence — Sir Edward Bulwer’s Haunted and the Haunters. Although this story does not claim to be anything more than fiction, it gives a very fair idea of the reputed happenings in the house in Berkeley Square.
The ghosts here seem to have taken a different form with various occupants. One story is that a virtuous young maiden once threw herself from the windows of a top room to escape a wicked relative with bad intentions. According to report, the poor girl can still, at times, be seen hanging on the window-sill and screeching her head off. Continue reading