50 Berkeley Square
RESIDENCE – 50 BERKELEY SQUARE
Location: 50 Berkeley Square, Mayfair, London, United Kingdom W1J 5BA
Small Description: The four-story brick town house was constructed in the late eighteenth/early nineteenth century and sits in the middle of London town. During the Victorian era 50 Berkeley Square was popularly believed to be the most haunted building in London. Its most famous resident was the Prime Minister George Canning who died on 8 August 1827 at Chiswick House. Following Canning, the house was owned by Miss Curzon until she died aged ninety in 1859.
It was during her time in Berkeley Square that the first stories of it’s ghosts came to light. Some sources suggest that the house remained empty following her death until 1880 though this is may not be the case. Following Curzon’s death the house gained a reputation for a haunted second floor (or top floor) room around which many of the stories relating the ghost revolve. From 1937 to this present day, the building is occupied by Maggs Bros, a firm of antiquarian book dealers.
Ghost Story: The attic of this house is said to be haunted by the spirit of a young woman who committed suicide there. She threw herself from the top floor windows after abuse from her uncle. Her spirit is said to be capable of frightening people to death by taking the form of a brown mist. There are two reported deaths that are said to have occurred after people stayed overnight in the room. In 1840, the 20-year-old dandy and notorious rake Sir Robert Warboys heard the eerie rumours about the Berkeley Square Thing in a Holborn tavern one night, and laughingly dismissed the tales as ‘unadulterated poppycock’. Sir Robert’s friends disagreed with him, and dared him to spend a night in the haunted second-floor room in Berkeley Square. Warboys raised his flagon of ale in the air and announced he would wholeheartedly accept the preposterous harebrained challenge!
That same night, Sir Robert visited the haunted premises to arrange an all-night vigil with the landlord. The landlord tried to talk Sir Robert out of the dare, but the young man refused to listen, and demanded to be put up for the night in the haunted room. The landlord finally gave in to Sir Robert’s demands, but stipulated two conditions; if the young man saw anything ‘unearthly’ he was to pull a cord that would ring a bell in the landlord’s room below. Secondly, Sir Robert would have to be armed with a pistol throughout the vigil.
The young libertine thought the conditions were absurd, but agreed to them just to get the landlord out of his hair. The landlord handed Warboys a pistol and left as a clock in the room chimed the hour of midnight. Sir Robert sat at a table in the candlelit room and waited for the ‘Thing’ to put in an appearance.
Forty-five minutes after midnight, the landlord was startled out of his sleep by the violent jangling of the bell. A single gunshot in the room above echoed through the house. The landlord raced upstairs and found Sir Robert sitting on the floor in the corner of the room with a smoking pistol in his hand. The young man had evidently died from traumatic shock, for his eyes were bulged, and his lips were curled from his clenched teeth. The landlord followed the line of sight from the dead man’s terrible gaze and traced it to a single bullet hole in the opposite wall. He quickly deduced that Warboys had fired at the ‘Thing’, to no avail.
Bonus Spook: Stories of this haunted house continue to circulate today in Mayfair. Late at night, faces are said to peep out from the upper windows of number 50. It is also company policy at ‘Maggs Bros’ that if people are working at night that they have to leave together and not alone. You will also be able to visit 50 Berkeley Square in the game ‘Assassin’s Creed Syndicate’!