- Tower Hamlets
If you’ve ever heard a ghostly whispering, seen a shadow out of the corner of your eye, or felt a strange presence in Croydon, you certainly won’t be alone.
Of all the ELL boroughs, Croydon seems to have by far the greatest number of ghost stories and is, without doubt, the ghost capital of the East London Line.
Whether it’s the creeping shadows and apparitions seen at the Cane Hill site, or the chilling story of ‘Digger Harry’ – wandering Kings Wood with a spade over one shoulder searching for his buried wife – there are a great number of stories. From Tudor tales, to urban legends, ghost hunters and skeptics will never be short of a story to explore.
Did you know, for instance, that many visitors of Selhurst Park believe the ground to be haunted by the ghost of a Crystal Palace goalkeeper called Billy Callender, who hung himself in 1932? Selhurst Park is said not only to be haunted, but cursed. In the 1970s, a psychic called Romark was called in by manager Malcolm Allison to improve the performance of the team, but after a sticky pay dispute, Romark put a dark curse on Crystal Palace and many fans say things haven’t been the same since…
Further into the town centre, some believers claim Lloyd Park to be haunted not by a ghost, but by the menacing presence of a terrifying ghoul.
It isn’t all doom and gloom, though. Some Croydon ghosts are quite friendly – even helpful. One story from New Addington tells of the ghost of a German pilot, shot down during an air battle in the Second World War. He was badly injured, and plenty of locals wanted to kill him as one of the enemy, but others protected and nursed him until he went to hospital, where he died.
He has since been seen in the area where he fell, handing a lost wallet back to a man, perhaps as a thank you for the care he received there in a time of conflict.
Another benevolent ghost, the figure of a young girl, was often seen in the 1980s, in a house in Upper Norwood. Far from frightening, she once even managed to wake up her flesh-and-bones housemate to warn her of a fire starting in the kitchen.
So Croydon seems to have it all. Ghosts from the 1600s, to the 1970s; from violent poltergeists to kindly spirits and an ectoplasmic glut of mysterious grey area in between.
If you’ve had any first-hand experience of the cases we mention, or if you know any of stories we haven’t mapped, we’d love to hear about it, so don’t forget to leave a comment.
And if you’re off ghost-hunting yourself over Easter, don’t forget to take a camera, tape recorder or notebook to capture anything you see. Most importantly, take a level-headed friend with you; if half of these stories are to be believed, you might find yourself in some spooky situations!
Whether these stories are evidence of the supernatural in Croydon, or just sensationalized misunderstandings, one thing is clear – ghost stories are worthwhile, at the very least, as a wonderful reminder of the hidden history behind places we might think of as very ordinary.