Camden Town, the most fashionable part of North London, may be nowadays renowned as a trendy and eclectic gem, but this wasn’t always the case. One may find it hard to believe that behind its hippy and revitalising exterior, lies a past so shrouded in mystery and dark, torturous, legends which could leave even grown men trembling with fear. Book a Camden apartment and come discover just how many skeletons are hiding behind those ever so stylish closets.
The Dark, Dark (Dark!) Camden Town Underworld
The World’s End is one of the most popular pubs in Camden Town and has been running continuously for almost 300 years, bar a stint of post-fire destruction. A popular halfway house for highway men on the trail to Hampstead in the late 1600s, the pub and adjoining nightclub, the aptly named Underworld, are two of the most famous (and infamous) entertainment venues in Camden.
While some believe the scariest tales come from live performances of local and international heavy metal bands (think Terror and Grave and Vile), the bar’s employees insist their establishment once served as gallows and torture chambers for unlucky sods, and that spooky ghostly screams can be heard from the dungeons below.
Indeed restocking the fridge from the basement storeroom is seen as some kind of cruel and unusual punishment here. Mother Redcap, the merciless matron who used to run the pub at the time, supervised the hangings, and was later accused of witchcraft and evil doing. She was eventually put to death in the same gallows she helped create.
Plan to spend at least one Saturday night in the Underworld (preferably a dark, cold and windy one) and we guarantee you’ll have a hair-raising experience…especially if you don’t like heavy-metal.
The Plagued Castles
Our tales of terror do not end there, folks! (Hope you read that in your scary voice)
Why so many pubs in London are called castles is anyone’s guess, but nevertheless this most regal noun does nothing to dissipate the rumours that some watering holes in Camden are among the most haunted joints in London. And no, they don’t all host heavy-music bands.
If you’ve ever dealt with a scary landlady, you may well sympathise with the unfortunate travellers who became victims of the wicked witch who used to run the Black Cap Pub in the mid-1700s. The boarding rates may have been cheap, but when the landlady serves you lethal ales and subjects you to all manner of witch-craftiness…you may just want to up your budget a bit. It is said many unhappy ghosts are still hanging around there trying to get a refund.
Despite the age restrictions, the soul of a young child is said to be spooking patrons at the Queens Head Pub for decades now. Apparently she runs amuck on Sundays only, which is rather considerate. Over at the Ye Olde Axe the ghosts of skeletons uncovered in the 70s freaked the owners so much, they turned the pub into a strip club instead; no doubt to appease the disgruntled departed.
So take your wild imagination and sense of humour on your next London vacation and take home more than just the usual travel stories.