Hello! I’m Suzanne McLeod and I’m thrilled to be here for BCC’s All Hallows Eve event telling you about my favourite spooky city – London! London’s a spook-tastic* place to visit, especially at Hallowe’en, as it has its fair share of ghosts and haunted abodes. Here are just a few of them (all of which have made appearances in at least one of my books, usually after I’ve mined their spookiness for inspiration! *inserts obligatory self-promo* *g*).
*sorry, couldn’t resist! #hangsheadinpunfilledshame
London Bridge has quite a history going back 2000 years to Roman times, and while the current bridge is of fairly plain construction compared to its former incarnations, it’s what’s underneath that is spooky. The vaulted foundations of the bridge were originally used for storage but fell into disuse, then back in 2007 they were developed into a tourist attraction called the London Bridge Experience and the London Tombs, which is the winner of the UK’s Best Scare Attraction 2008-2011! During the building work they uncovered a pit full of skeletons – thought to be a plague pit – after which tools mysteriously disappeared and light bulbs blew for no reason, supposedly scaring the builders* who were working on the attraction.
*Check the date of the news report! *offers slight sceptical grin*
And if you fancy seeing the spooky vaults for yourself, here’s a video of when Londonist held a haunted sleep-over!
DEAD MAN’S HOLE – TOWER BRIDGE
The River Thames is tidal and so any bodies in the river tend to wash up at certain spots where the tide fights itself. One of these spots is Dead Man’s Hole, alongside which Tower Bridge was built (and completed in 1894). Now, around 50 bodies a year are found in the Thames, which is a huge amount, but back then there were even more. A lot were from folk who worked on the river, many of whom couldn’t swim; some from suicides; and more from those who were too poor to bury their dead so they disposed of the corpse (no doubt, in the dead of night) in the Thames instead. So, when they built Tower Bridge next to where all these bodies kept popping up, the practical Victorians decided to include a river landing point for easy retrieval, and a mortuary for handy storage, in the bridge’s north pier.
TOWER OF LONDON
The Tower of London is, unsurprisingly with its long and bloody history, one of the most haunted places in the UK. From the royal ghosts, all of whom were either murdered or executed, such as Henry VI, Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey, the Princes in the Tower*, to the unnamed White Lady who haunts the White Tower, and even the ghost of a grizzly bear. Legend has it that the huge ghostly bear appeared near Martin Tower, and scared a guard so badly that he dropped dead of shock! (The guard that is, not the bear, who was, supposedly, already dead )
Whether the ghostly bear story is true or not*, there have been real bears at the tower in the past. Back in 1251, Henry III was given a polar bear by the king of Norway. The bear was kept on a long chain, and was able to swim and fish in the Thames. And in 1811, George III was given a grizzly bear by the Hudson Bay Company. The bear was called ‘Old Martin’ (likely after the Martin Tower) and after many years at the Tower he was moved to the (then) new London Zoo in Regent’s Park, where he lived out his days until 1838.
*The twelve year old Edward V and his brother Richard, allegedly disposed of by their uncle Richard III – Two skeletons, believed to be the princes, were unearthed beneath a staircase in the White Tower in 1674.
*If the guard dropped dead how does anyone know what scared him . . .
Of course, anyone would expect a cemetery to be haunted and Highgate does have its fair share of ghosts, like the tall man in a hat who walks through the cemetery wall, a cyclist who puffs his way up the very steep* hill next to the cemetery, a grey-haired woman racing through the graves looking for her murdered children, a face with glowing red eyes glaring through the bars of the gate, and a shrouded figure who gazes pensively into space and who disappears if someone gets too close. But Highgate also has the Highgate Vampire, who supposedly haunted the cemetery in the early 1970s and, according to a local man, was a medieval nobleman from Romania, who was into the occult and who was buried at Highgate before it was made into a Cemetery.
I recently took some friends to visit Highgate (some pictures here). Unfortunately, due to my slavishly following Google maps, I insisted on all of us puffing our way up the very steep hill to the cemetery gates, only to discover they were the wrong gates! We’d walked right past the proper entrance! At least the walk back was ‘downhill’ and, after a cocktail or three, my friends forgave me the unexpected, extra exercise.
Thanks To BCC for having me guest, and to you all for reading, and I hope you enjoyed my mini tour around spook-tastic London. If you’d like a chance to win one of my books, and find out more about the spooky places in the Spellcrackers world, leave a comment telling me what your favourite spooky place is.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Suzanne McLeod is the author of the Spellcrackers.com urban fantasy series about magic, mayhem and murder – liberally spiced with hot guys, kick-ass chicks and super-cool supes! The Shifting Price of Prey is her latest book.
Suzanne has been a cocktail waitress, dance group roadie, and retail manager before becoming a writer. She was born in London (her favourite city and home to Spellcrackers.com) and is now lucky enough to live with her husband on the sunny (sometimes) South Coast of England, about a mile away from the sea.
ABOUT THE BOOK: The Shifting Price of Prey (Spellcrackers #4) Sometimes a bit of magical help might cost more than you bargained for… London is hosting the Carnival Fantastique, and Genny’s job has never been busier or more fulfilling. Only not everyone is so happy. Genny believed she’d cracked the fae’s infertility curse… but the fae are still barren. It’s a devastating plight to which the mysterious Emperor may have the solution – if Genny can find him. She needs help.
She turns to the vampire Malik al-Khan, only to find he’s wrestling with his own demons and, when the police request Genny’s assistance with a magical kidnap, her own problems multiply too. Is it all unconnected, or can the Emperor help her solve more than the fae’s infertility? Soon Genny is hard on his trail, so it seems she’ll have a chance to ask… but will the answer cost more than she’s willing to pay?
Suzanne is offering ONE winner a choice of ONE of her books from the Spellcrackers.com series: The Sweet Scent of Blood (Book #1), The Cold Kiss of Death (Book #2), The Bitter Seed of Magic (Book #3) or The Shifting Price of Prey (Book #4)
For entry into the giveaway please answer the following question then fill out the form below: what is your favourite spooky place?
This giveaway is International (where Book Depository deliver) and ends 31st October 2012
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