One of the most iconic buildings in London, Westminster Abbey is a historic part of the city and is steeped in a rich, diverse past. As it has such a varied history, it will likely come as no surprise to learn that the Abbey is said to be frequented by a number of ghosts and spooky apparitions.
From St Peter to Jack the Ripper, why not book a place on our Westminster Abbey tour and see if you can spot one of these ghosts yourself?
The present-day Westminster Abbey was built close to the site of a Benedictine Monastery on Thorney Island and was dedicated to St Peter the Apostle. During construction of the Abbey, it is said that a boatman was ferrying passengers across the river when he was joined by a mysterious man in a cowl. According to the tale, as the boat neared the riverbank, the man stood, removed the cowl and revealed his identity. As St Peter arrived at the Abbey, the building was blessed and lit by a spiritual glow.
Father Benedictus was a sixteenth-century monk who was reportedly killed during a botched robbery at the Abbey. However, what makes this ghost so unusual is the fact that he appears so lifelike that many people do not initially realise he is a spectre! Father Benedictus is most commonly seen walking in the Abbey Cloisters in the late afternoon and has even been known to chat with tourists. A common theory is that his murder was so sudden, he has forgotten he is even dead.
Best known for being the judge who ordered the execution of King Charles I, John Bradshaw’s body was disinterred and desecrated after his death. King Charles II planned to send a message to those who would commit regicide – as a result, Bradshaw’s head was separated from his body and placed on a spike in Westminster Hall. It is said that his ghost has walked the halls near to his former office in the Triforium ever since.
Jack the Ripper
Westminster Bridge is only a stone’s throw from the Abbey yet is said to be haunted by the ghost of infamous serial killer Jack the Ripper. As the story goes, the spectral apparition of the Ripper can be seen manifesting at midnight on New Year’s Eve, running across the bridge before jumping into the river below. Although no one knows for sure what happened to Jack the Ripper, one of the theories is that, plagued by the horrifying murders he committed, the Ripper finally decided to end his own life and bring the killing spree to an end.
The Unknown Warrior
Arguably one of the best-known war graves, the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior is the final resting place of an unidentified World War One soldier. It is said that when the Abbey is silent and the crowds of tourists have left for the day, a mysterious soldier appears and stands beside the grave. He reportedly bows his head in prayer and stands as though watching over the tomb before eventually fading away into thin air.
Of course, these are only a few of the many ghosts that are said to haunt Westminster Abbey and the surrounding area. London is filled with a rich paranormal history – take a walk with us on our Westminster Abbey tour and learn all about the building’s past. Who knows – you might just catch a glimpse of a ghost!