The Most Haunted ‘House’ In London?
Surrounded by venerable museums, pubs and churches, Senate House in Bloomsbury is the admin centre of the University of London, and has proved a source of inspiration for British writers. Books partly set there include include Graham Greene’s ‘The Ministry of Fear’, and George Orwell’s ‘1984’ – his wife Eileen worked inside it for the Censorship Department of the Ministry of Information, which became the Ministry of Truth in her husband’s novel.
The building has plenty of remarkable features. It feels like a piece of an American city in central London, and including an art deco ballroom with a sprung wooden floor. Nearby there are creatures in jars at the Huntingdon and Jeremy Bentham’s displayed corpse, but I was surprised to learn that Senate House also has a reputation for being haunted. Bloomsbury is one of the most ancient areas in London, and has seen more than its fair share of murders. But that doesn’t explain why a relatively modern building should house so many ghosts.
Glowing spectral figures have been seen in the library, the lift, various doorways and even in the loos. The Blue Lady is said to appear in the Senate Room, sitting in one of the booths. A lost river has started bubbling up beneath the building, coming through vents and drains – and where there are rivers there are always phantoms*.
The eighth floor of the building is said to make people uncomfortable, while on higher floors the lights come on by themselves, the temperature falls and something up there hurls books around.
One solution for the ghost in the lift presents itself – Sir Edwin Deller, Principal of the University of London, was crushed to death inside the lift shaft. So often has the building been associated with strange goings-on that there’s a curious website dedicated to them here.
*See Bryant & May novels passim.