some London Theatres date back well over two hundred years and are buildings of big historical importance. Many people, both actors and audience members alike, feel great affinity to theatres, being particularly drawn into the drama and the passion that surrounds the stage. Given that theatres are buildings of such intense emotions, it is hardly surprising that some spirits are drawn to them in their after lives. Also, considering for some actors, particular theatres made or broke their careers, many of the deceased have found it hard to let go of their love of the stage in their death. It certainly seems that some performers have taken the popular theatrical motto “the show must go on” to their graves. Check out the picture at the bottom of the page of a ghost caught on camera!
The ghosts of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane
Where: The Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Covent Garden, WC2B 5JF.
Who: The Theatre Royal Drury Lane is reportedly the most haunted theatre, if not building, in the world. Therefore it is unsurprising that the theatre is host to several ghost; two clowns and a mysterious “Man in Grey.” Of the two clowns, one is said to be one of the worlds most famous early pantomime performers, Joseph Grimaldi (1778-1837) and the other is said to be the spirit of the cross dressing Pantomime Dame, Dan Leno. The two clowns are said to haunt the stage area, whereas the Man in Grey is said to mainly haunt the Upper Circle and appears to wear a tri cornered hat.
When: The lost spirits have manifested themselves in one way or another on countless occasions over the past centuries. In the 1840’s the theatre was renovated which led to the discovery of bones behind an Upper Circle wall. Architects suspect the bones are that of the Man in Grey. The grey apparition himself has been seen by numerous cast and crew members for stage shows, including The Dancing Years (1939), The King and I, South Pacific, Oklaholma and Miss Saigon and his appearance is said to be a good luck omen for a successful show. Theatre ushers also have also reported seeing the ghost as late as 2012, where the Man in Grey rocked an Upper Circle seat and told staff members to “shhh.” Similarly, both of the clown’s spirits seem to be present. Grimaldi has reportedly kicked a few actors on stage and, on feeling a shove they have turned to see nobody was there! Panto dame, Dan Leno manifests himself as a smell rather a vision. Dan Leno is said to transmit a lavender fragrance from beyond the grave.
Why: The Theatre Royal Drury Lane dates back to 1663 and has been a career making and breaking venue for many actors and theatre professionals. Actors are a notoriously a passionate breed of people and no doubt some would rather not be forgotten, even in death. In particular, the highlights of Joseph Grimaldi’s career took place at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, although sadly due to a crippling disease he eventually lost the use of his legs and could no longer engage in his trademark physical performance. It is perhaps out of jealousy that Grimaldi is known to administer a sharp kick to the legs of actors and theatre workers, or even sometimes a tug of the hair or a shove on the back!
In regards to the lavender pantomime dame, it is said that the actor Dan Leno suffered from terrible incontinence and attempted to mask the smell with a thick perfume. It seems that Dan Leno took his embarrassment beyond the grave…
The haunting of the Man in Grey is also fairly dramatic as what are thought to be his remains were found in a bricked up room near his Upper Circle haunt. His bones were found with a dagger in the chest with many historians believing he was murdered in that spot.
Spooky Rating: 9/10 – Call the Ghostbusters! A kicking clown, and inconstant Dame and a murdered Man in Grey thought to have been stabbed in the chest…it all definitely sounds like the stuff of nightmares!
William Terriss at the Adelphi Theatre
Where: The Adelphi Theatre, Strand, WC2R.
Who: The Victorian Actor William Terriss. Terriss was a very well known performer in his day and took on many heroic roles in both Shakespeare plays and contemporary productions of his day. In life Terriss was said to be mild mannered but in death it appears that Terris is less friendly. This may well have something to do with the brutal way in which he died…
When: Terris has been seen by a few actors but heard by many more. Terriss reportedly knocks on a particular dressing room door, which was formerly the dressing room of his actress lover Jessica Millward. Terriss died bleeding in Millward’s arms and his final words were (much like Terminator) “I’ll be back.” This was certainly the case in 1928 when the ghost of Terriss reportedly attacked a young actress named June who was in the dressing room in question. Perhaps Terriss was confused as to why June was in his lover’s room and Jessica Millward herself.
Terriss is also said to wander across the road to give Covent Garden tube station a haunting too. Many travellers on the tube have seen his spiritual imprint and indentified him by surviving photographs of the actor.
Why: William Terriss was murder at the stage door of the Adelphi Theatre by a crazed out of work actor in December 1897. Terriss was due to perform in the evening’s performance of Secret Service when a former friend, deranged actor Richard Archer Prince, stabbed him to death in a fit of jealous rage. Terriss died in his lovers’ arms and promised her this would not be the last of him. The high drama of his passing may well have led to Terriss leaving a spiritual imprint behind in the realm of the living.
Spooky Rating: 8/10 a shriek of terror! Usually Terriss harmlessly wanders the backstage corridors of the Adelphi Theatre, knocking on his lover’s door or even appearing aimlessly at Covent Garden Tube station. However from the 1928 incident with a young actress he found to be an imposter, he is obviously not happy about the fact that he was murdered and I personally wouldn’t want to tick him off!
Beer Flood Victim at the Dominion Theatre
Where: The Dominion Theatre, Tottenham Court Road
Who: Possibly the ghost of a 14 year old bar maid, Eleanor Cooper, who was killed in the ‘London Beer Flood.’ Other victims of the beer flood also manifest themselves at the Dominion theatre, but it appears that Eleanor is the only one to have taken corporeal form in recent years.
When: Eleanor has most recently been snapped by two theatregoers, Stuart Cheveralls and his partner Natalie. The pair went to enjoy a show of We Will Rock you and, like many in the iPhone generation, snapped a cheeky snapshot of the pair sitting in their seats before the show started to add to Facebook. On flicking through the pictures the next day, Stuart saw a very distinct and very ghoulish face peaking between his and his date’s head. On top of that staff at the theatre frequently report mysterious bangs, crashes and the giggle of a dissonant, yet seemingly non existent child.
Why: The Dominion is built on the site of an old Brewery, which was the scene of a devastating and deadly disaster in 1814. Some 200 years before the young barmaid was snapped in the picture, 3,550 barrels of beer (over 1 million pints!) burst, creating a tidal wave of beer that flattened nearby buildings and drowned 8 people, including Eleanor Cooper.
Spooky Rating: 7/10 –BRRR it’s cold in here, there must be something spooky in the atmosphere! Check out the picture below and see for yourself how spooky you think the ghost of Eleanor is…Drowning in a pool of beer is enough to get anybody pissed! (Sorry miss ghost, please excuse the pun)