Located in the backstreets of London, England, is 50 Berkeley Square, a rather unassuming looking building that is home to Maggs Bros. Antiquirian Bookseller. The three-story building, while plain looking on the outside, is reportedly home to a ghastly haunting that was known to drive people mad with terror that can claim an impressive body count.
From the mid-to-late nineteenth century, 50 Berkeley Square was considered the most haunted house in Great Britain and it deserved its reputation. Those who knew the building up close and personal claimed a terrifying spirit haunted it’s halls, frightening away anyone unlucky enough to stay for too long.
One theory concerning the origins of this specter can be traced to 1859, when a man was left by his unfaithful wife-to-be two days before the wedding. The man was so distraught by the betrayal, he shut himself up in a single room until he died a sad and miserable old man who never trusted another soul again. It’s believed to be his twisted ghost that haunts the building.
For 20 years, 50 Berkeley Square sat empty, a dark dilapidated old structure that quickly gained a reputation for being haunted. Many who passed the house claimed that a black form could be seen standing in front of the window. If passersby got too close, the entity would let loose with an unearthly scream.
Others claimed the building gave off an aura of evil and a deep feeling of dread, causing people to never venture near the building. The tale of unspeakable evil only got worse when in 1879, a young maid scoffed at the idea of the building being haunted. After obtaining a lease she moved in with all intentions of breathing new life into the darkened halls and shadowy corridors. She would soon regret her skepticism.
A few nights after she moved in, her neighbors were woken up from their slumber when the maid let out a bloodcurdling scream heard throughout the neighborhood. Knowing the young woman was alone, the police were immediately summoned to check on the maid’s well being. When they burst through the door and made their way up the stairs, they discovered her huddled in a corner, covering her face and trembling in terror. The young maid clearly had seen something that was indescribably terrible.
When the police tore her arms from her face, they discovered her dark hair turned white and a look of stark raving madness filled her eyes. When she regained her senses, she proceeded to tell the police what frightened her. She claimed that as she slept, she was awakened by the sound of a heavy object dragging across the floor. When she opened her eyes she saw a sight that would haunt her the rest of her days. Standing over her was a large dark form, the size of a giant man with eyes that burned with hatred. The young woman who scoffed at the haunting of 50 Berkeley Square was locked away in an insane asylum where she died a few years later. 50 Berkeley Square had claimed it’s first victim.
Just as today, Victorian era England had its fair share of skeptics concerning the paranormal. Especially at a time when the new religion of spiritualism was making its way to England. One gentleman, a debunker of mediums and hauntings, took the challenge by his friends to spend a night in the infamous haunted house of 50 Berkeley Square.
On a warm summer night, the man and his friends entered the building. While his friends were downstairs drinking and playing cards, he set up camp in the room where the young maid went mad with fear. In order to alert his friends of anything strange, he set up an intricate alarm system of pulleys, rope and bells. If something strange occurred, he would pull the string to alert his friends that he required immediate assistance.
As the night wore on and the man’s companion sat in the parlor playing cards, they were snapped from their merriment by the furious sound of a ringing bell. The friends dropped their drinks and raced upstairs to check on their friend. When they walked through the door, they found their cynical friend dead in the bed, a look of untold fear etched into his face. Victim number two.
Following this event, the home regained it’s reputation for being a place of unspeakable horror. Nevertheless, this did not stop two foreign sailors from breaking into the building seeking a place to get out of the rain and get a good night’s sleep. Shortly after falling asleep, the sailors were awakened by the sound of heavy footfalls on the stairs. Thinking the police were checking up on the building, the two men hid in the closet and waited for them to leave. They listened as the footsteps stopped in front of their hiding place and whatever waited on the other side threw open the door. What they saw was certainly not the police.
A short time later, one of the sailors was discovered by police running down the street screaming that a terrible ghost had his friend. At first the police mocked the man, until the sailor told them he was back at 50 Berkeley Square. They immediately stopped laughing and raced to the notoriously haunted building. When they arrived they discovered a dreadful scene. The sailor who didn’t escape lay dead in a pool of blood outside 50 Berkeley Square’s door. The police looked up to see that the sailor had jumped through the window of the upper floor. The man was so desperate to escape the horror that trapped him, he did the only thing he could think of, he took his own life. 50 Berkeley Square had claimed it’s third and final victim.
The booksellers who live and work at 50 Berkeley Square, have said on many occasions that no murderous entity resides in the building’s upper floors. They have neither seen, nor heard anything that would convince them a ghost lurks among the antique books they specialize in. However, the story of 50 Berkeley Square and it’s horrific entity continue to dominate this quiet London street.
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