Southwark in London has a very shady past and its pubs are known for their haunting. CELESTE MILES picks Five Southwark Spooky Pubs
Anchor Inn, 34 Park St
The pub dates back to the 1600s and is situated on the grounds of the famous Clink prison.
It is believed that Samuel Pepys sat outside this pub whilst he watched London burn in 1666. In his famous diaries he describes finding refuge on the river in a ‘little alehouse on Bankside’ and there watched the fire grow’.
Pepys wasn’t the only famous author visiting this tavern; it is believed Dr Johnson, the creator of the Dictionary also used to frequent this watering hole.
But it is a former loyal pet that is said to haunt the pub today. This tail-less dog was alledgedly attacked & killed when protecting his master against a lawless gang, and now his he continues to protect his masters home.
The pub recently refurbished now houses a labyrinth of rooms and staircases which add to the eerie, historic character. There is also a pleasant roof top bar, with great views across the river to St Pauls.
The Beautiful George is an original Coaching Inn dating from the 1600s. With its impressive galleried frontage, it originally contained accommodation for weary travellers.
The pub still retains some of its former features. The waiting room for coachmen and passengers is now The Old Bar. The Coffee Room, reputedly frequented by Charles Dickens, is now The Middle Bar. Here you can also find Dickens’ life insurance policy displayed on the wall.
The pub is haunted by a shadowy figure of a woman who drifts in and old of the old bedrooms. Some believe it to be the spirit of the former landlady Miss Murray. Perhaps she still likes to check up on her customers.
She appears not to be too keen on modern electronics as many staff report problems with electronics continually malfunctioning, tills opening by themselves and crashing for no reason, and strange unexplained images on security cameras.
Suchards Thai Restaurant/Free House, 2 Crucifix Lane
Set opposite the railway arches of London Bridge the former Horns pub is now a snazzy Thai restaurant/pub.
Dating from the late 1800s this restaurant/ bar claims to be homes to two spooks. The first is a shadowy old lady, who haunts the upstairs room. Could she be the mother of the young child that residents hear crying and moving throughout the building? Some believe she is calling out for her mother. Other reports suggest she was crying in fear of her mother.
The Market Porter, 9 Stoney Street, Borough Market
This pub serves the local Borough Market workers and found fame as the ‘Third Hand Book Emporium’ in the recent ‘Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban’ movie.
It’s past is also worthy of the movies. In the late 1800s a local marketer ‘Flash Alf’ was brutally was stabbed to death, with a umbrella to the face, outside this, pub by his friend and companion Edward Lamb during a drunken argument. Perhaps it’s these two fellows that are often seen in shadows at bar by passers by late at night.
Landlords of the Market Porter also report strange electrical occurrences with tills and glass washers turning on and off by themselves.
Thomas A’Becket, 320 Old Kent Road
This fascinating pub has a sporting as well as eerie history. Dating from the 1800s, the pub is named after its connections with Thomas Becket; the site is believed to be the ‘waterhole nr Thomas Beckets shrine’ referred to in Chaucer’s tales. Back then it is believed this spot was used for public executions and afterwards the displaying of the bodies in gibbets.
In the 1800s a Jack the Ripper suspect was arrested at this pub after possible Ripper apparatus ‘a very sharp dagger, a clasp knife, two pairs of very curious looking scissors.’ were left in a bag at the pub by a border.
In the 1900s the pub became famous for its boxing connections. There was a gym located on the first floor reputedly visited by European and Commonwealth Heavyweight Champion Sir Henry Cooper trained for fourteen years from 1954. Mohammed Ali was also known to have visited the gym here from time to time.
It’s the spirits of nuns rather than boxers these days that inflict terror on staff and customers. Three nuns are said to wander the second floor corridors whispering amongst themselves.
One landlord claimed that one of bedrooms upstairs was so haunted that nobody could spend more than five minutes inside without fleeing in terror, and he himself would not stay in the building alone at night.
There are also stories of a glass which fell apart in a customer’s hand after they made a disrespectful remark about the paranormal.
CELESTE MILES says she is “a born and bred Londoner, passionate about all things London but especially its history, architecture and all its quirkiness . In her free time she loves to explore the city and discover all its buried secrets and histories”. Her blog is Discovering Secret London, which you can see here, where “All of London’s secrets revealed… Whether you’re looking for a history tour of London or want to find a secret authentic pub in the heart of London. Discovering secret London is committed to bringing you ideas of fun things to do and many ‘well I never knew that!’ moments”. You can follow her on Twitter here and Facebook here.