Gower Street – London

In the main corridor of University College stands a handsome glass-fronted case containing the mummified body of one of its founders, the philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832), who objected to Christian burial. He held that a corpse should be used for scientific instruction and then preserved as a permanent memorial, so in accordance with his instructions his body was publicly dissected – to the accompaniment of a violent thunderstorm, a circumstance which traditionalists might consider an appropriate symbol of the wrath of God. It was then mummified and put on display. The head, however, is a wax replica, since the real one responded less well than the body to the treatment; it used to be in a closed box in the same case, but is now kept elsewhere in the college – allegedly because students were once caught playing football with it. Bentham’s body is dressed as he was in life, and holds his favourite walking stick; it is said that sometimes he leaves his case and can be seen walking along the corridors towards the library – or, if not seen, the tapping of his stick is heard. The story has been passed down among college students throughout the twentieth century, and surely goes back far into the nineteenth.

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SOURCE:

Haunted England : The Penguin Book of Ghosts – Written by Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson
Copyright © Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson 2005, 2008

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