Hidden London: Magic & Ghosts


In the next Bryant & May book, Arthur Bryant reveals his dubious skills as a magician. I feel guilty having mentioned Davenports, the hidden magic shop he visits, when there’s another family-run magic shop in London. It’s here, the International Magic Shop at 89, Clerkenwell Rd, and is so tiny that you’re likely to missing it driving past. Inside, every square inch is packed with tricks and illusions.

Oddly, I’ve never covered London ghosts thoroughly in Bryant & May books, mainly because they’ve been written about so extensively in the past, but two are worth mentioning here. The Trafalgar Tavern in Greenwich has a good one. Before it was built in 1837, the site was home to an old waterman pub called The George. A man is ‘often seen’ (how often? By whom? Are they sober?) sitting in the bar, wearing Georgian dress and drinking beer. Because he exists in his own period, he gets up when he’s finished and walks out through the fireplace, the location of the original pub door.

And The Grenadier in Belgravia is said to be home to the ghost of a young guards officer who was flogged to death after being caught cheating at cards. He’s meant to appear in September around the anniversary of his death. The Duke of Wellington famously mounted up on one of the mounting blocks still extant outside the pub before leaving London for Waterloo. For the record, the last time I went there the only supernatural thing about The Grenadier was the price of the drinks and it could have done with an exorcism to clear out the astonishingly rude bar staff.

There are over twenty different guided ghost walks you can do in London by my count, and probably a load more.

2 comments on “Hidden London: Magic & Ghosts”

  1. Helen Martin says:

    I’ve looked at this picture several times trying to decide what is so familiar about it. Simple: all the one and two story shop buildings put up in Vancouver from 1900 to after the first war had entrances exactly like this. I wonder if they came from Britain as knock down kits. That must be a narrow property, though, since most of these stores would have had a display window either side of the entrance. If the store were downtown those glass squares would be providing daylight to the belowground storage area. What is the Bourne Estate, by the way? Does it own the property? Did it?

  2. I.A.M. says:

    Does the Bourne Estate have anything to do with the movies? Does the estate control the franchise in the same way the Broccoli family controls Bond?

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