Soho Square

A Victorian cheap magazine entitled Mother Shipton’s Miscellany once carried a story about strange events at a house in Soho Square in 1704. Its owner lived in part of it, and the rest was let out as furnished lodgings, the current lodgers being a seemingly wealthy man and his two servants. One day this man told the landlord that his brother had died, and asked whether the coffin could be kept in the house overnight before being taken to the family vault next day. The landlord agreed, and it was laid in the dining room.

Late that night a servant girl, the only person still up, was horrified to see a tall figure, deathly pale and wrapped in a shroud, enter the kitchen. She fled upstairs to rouse her master and mistress, only to find that the spectre followed her into their bedroom, where it seated itself by the door, glaring and grimacing. Simultaneously, the house was filled with clatter and crashing; the girl fainted, and the landlord and his wife cowered under the bedclothes. After a long while, the noises stopped. The ghost had gone. But so had a great deal of silverware and other valuables; the ‘ghost’ was in fact a notorious robber, whose accomplices had smuggled him into the house in the coffin, and who acted the part of a spectre so that they could plunder it undisturbed.

Such tales about robbers’ tricks were common, but it is usually said that a servant girl’s cleverness and courage thwarts them.



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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