Ghost children, vanishing spectres and phantom bank managers haunt South London’s greatest graveyard at Nunhead Cemetery, says EDDIE BRAZIL
If the classic Gothic cemetery of north London is Highgate, its rival and sister necropolis south of the river has to be Nunhead in Peckham.
Consecrated in 1840, its first burial was of a 101-year-old grocer from Ipswich. The last was that of a volunteer soldier who became a canon of Lahore Cathedral in India.
Like Highgate, Nunhead is the archetype spooky grave yard of leaning headstones, crumbling tombs and a Victorian Gothic chapel.
To the imaginative mind it is the haunt of vampires, phantoms and ghosts.
However, whereas Highgate receives some measure of care, parts of Nunhead has been left to untamed nature and vandalism.
Weeds, unkempt grass and emerging trees cloak the once-proud Victorian graves and memento mori.
Such forlorn and atmospheric locations naturally generate their own paranormal history.
Nunhead Cemetery has its own monster phantom
Highgate has its seven-foot King Vampire; Nunhead, a phantom, 6 foot 8 inch Bank of England clerk.
In 1923 the remains of William Jenkins, a life-long employee of the bank, were removed from the City of London offices court garden burial ground and re-interned in a catacomb at Nunhead Cemetery.
Here they rested until the 1970s when the abandoned cemetery was invaded by hooligans and the graves and coffins violated and robbed. They included Jenkins’ last resting place, which was vandalized and stripped of the lead.
It was said that such desecration no doubt resulted in paranormal phenomena.
It is the ghost of the bank clerk which is said to haunt the graveyard.
In 1975 a workman saw a “tall dark stranger” dressed totally in black emerge from one of the crumbling catacombs and disappear into the surrounding undergrowth.
The phantom of William Jenkins is not the only apparition to have been witnessed at Nunhead Cemetery.
Again, in the 1970s, a group of people walking their dogs through the cemetery saw the figure of a woman in Victorian dress holding a lantern glide along a path.
As the group approached, the lady vanished.
Ghost children seen at Nunhead Cemetery
Spectral children have also been seen at the cemetery.
One night a man walking by the entrance to the graveyard saw and heard a group of youngsters playing and laughing amongst the graves.
As he looked through the bars of the gates, he says their presence and sound gradually faded into the darkness.
The man was convinced he had seen the ghosts of children.
But who could the ghostly children be?
In 1912, nine sea scouts were laid to rest at Nunhead after drowning in a boating accident off the Isle of Sheppey, off the coast of Kent.
Nunhead Cemetery’s Main Gate (North Gate) is located on Linden Grove (near the junction with Daniel’s Road) and the South Gate is located on Limesford Road. The cemetery is in the London Borough of Southwark, SE15.