You know what it’s like, you never do anything touristy in the city you live in, do you? Well, given that I live in London, one of the most incredible cities in the world, I realised not long ago that I really was missing out. So, when Joe Blogs invited me along to a Haunted Theatre walking tour in conjunction with Every Hotel Piccadilly I jumped at the chance!
Did you know that ghosts are, apparently, common in theatres as they’re drawn to places of creativity? Anyway…
I’d never been on a walking tour before, not in London, not anywhere. So I didn’t really know what to expect. I was a little dubious, on a dull October day, that we may get caught in the rain. But Every Hotel had thought of everything, and provided us with umbrellas, just in case! It turned out we didn’t need them (thankfully!) – although our tour guide, Diane, had her bright green one up anyway so we couldn’t lose her!
After meeting up at Every Hotel Piccadilly, our first stop was the Royal Haymarket Theatre (currently showing ‘Mr Footes Other Leg‘). It’s actually quite fitting that this play was on at the theatre at the time, as it related to Diane’s story as to where ‘break a leg’ originated from. Samuel Foote was the actor-manager at the Haymarket Theatre, and was desperate for ‘Royal’ status for the theatre. He managed to get his wish from the Duke of York after losing a wager, in which he lost a leg!
I was particularly taken with the rear of the theatre, by the stage door, where a Blue Plaque is displayed – as this was the location where Oscar Wildes first performances (of ‘A Woman of No Importance’ and ‘An Ideal Husband’) were presented.
Royal Haymarket Theatre also apparently has its own ghost – as witnessed by Dame Judi Dench and Patrick Stewart! Believed to be the actor John Buckstone, the Victorian ghost is said to walk through walls.
Our second stop was the London Coliseum, home to the English National Opera. I love the location of the Coliseum, right opposite the National Portrait Gallery. The theatre has a large spinning globe on its roof, which attracted visitors, particularly soldiers during World War One. It’s said that the theatre is haunted by these soldiers – in particularly one is said to be often spotted in row G.
From the side entrance of the Coliseum, we could see the Duke of York’s Theatre. Now, the interesting thing about the Duke of York’s actually relates to a piece of clothing – a jacket (once worn by Thora Hird) is said to tighten around the neck all by itself! There’s also allegedly the ghost of a former actor-manager, Violet Melnotte, who messes around with the door locks!
En route to our next stop, we took a little walk through Goodwin Court which, as a Harry Potter fan, I was quite taken with, as it reminded me of Diagon Alley! Diane explained to us that it was in fact an alleyway used by prostitutes back in the day, and part of Soho’s infamous Red Light District.
This led us to the Adelphi Theatre, which had one of the more interesting ghost stories. Actor ‘Mad Archie’ (full name Richard Archer Prince) blamed colleague William Terriss for losing his job, and stabbed him in the back – the ghost of Terriss apparently haunted both the theatre and nearby Covent Garden station (which stands on the spot of a former bakery Terriss would frequent), until his exorcism in the 1950s!
On to the theatre with the highest number of ghosts in London – the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, with a whopping three ghosts! As well as a creepy clown who appears in mirrors and a man in grey, the Drury Lane is haunted by comedian Dan Leo – allegedly you can tell when he is near by the scent of lavender!
Finally, and possibly my favourite – the Fortune Theatre, where ‘Woman In Black‘ is currently being shown. I loved the movie, so I really want to see the stage version! Anyway, not only is the Fortune showing the Woman In Black, it has its very own woman in black ghost! About ten years ago, the Victorian female began to appear in the wings. Perhaps coincidentally, the theatre is adjacent to a children’s playground, which is built on an old cemetery.
Every Hotel Piccadilly were fantastic hosts, and put on a lovely buffet and open bar for us on our return to the hotel after all that walking! In particular I enjoyed the chicken burger.
Perfectly located just off Leicester Square, the hotel itself is lovely – and the rooms are sound proofed so you don’t have to worry about all that central London noise when you’re trying to nod off. And I love a good rainfall shower.
Newly opened, Every Hotel pride themselves on their amenities – all rooms have a free (non-alcoholic) mini bar, Smart TVs and Nespresso machines. They also claim to have the world’s fastest hotel WiFi – now I can’t tell you how accurate this is, but I can confirm it was pretty damn speedy! They really have paid attention to the details – as well as the usual three prong plug sockets, there are also direct USB plugs in the wall to charge phones (or whatever else).
They also have a ‘Techno Gym’ (which unsurprisedly I didn’t check out, although I wish I had because what exactly is a ‘Techno Gym’?).
Now, I’m not a believer in ghosts, I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily a non-believer either, but I very much enjoyed Diane’s tour, and I would recommend it, or one of her other tours, if anyone has an afternoon spare.
Thank you very much Joe Blogs, Diane and Every Hotel!
All photos my own.
You can check out Every Hotels own blog post about the event here.