Monday, October 25, 2010

Lost Steps: Haunted London

Transpontine contributor Scott Wood was interviewed on Resonance FM's great London show, Lost Steps, last week along with Camberwell-based artist Sarah Sparkes. The theme was Haunted London, with some South London tales including an underground ghost at Elephant & Castle; a fearsome 'thing' upstairs at the Thomas a Becket pub on the Old Kent Road; a spook that was said to get into bed with guests in a house in George Lane, Hither Green; a thirsty ghost in 1804 at St Pauls Church in Deptford said to climb out of a coffin and demand ale; and the 1948 dancing girl of One Tree Hill.

There's an interesting exchange on the significance of ghost stories, with presenter Malcolm Hopkins suggesting that 'behind every haunting there's got to be a story.... whether you believe in the haunting or not becomes irrelevant because the actual snippet of social history you get tells you a lot about London at a particular time'.

As Scott put is, 'the ghost is almost an oral memorial... a memorial that's not physical but is passed between people so they don't forget the stories of what's happened to people'. Examples include ghost stories as folk memories of World War 2 disasters, such as the haunting of the (now closed) Kings Arms on Peckham Rye said to be related to its bombing during the War, or stories related to the New Cross V2 explosion in 1944.

You can listen to the whole show at the Lost Steps website.

Check out more of Scott's London ghost and other spooky lore at the Londonist.

Scott is also hosting a Peckham ghost walk on Halloween and a London Bridge ghost walk on 27 October - details here.

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