Fearless reporter Luke Ritchie delves deep into Wimbledon’s darker nature with a night tour…the faint hearted need not read on!
It is a dark, lonely night and the moon beams a sickly grin down on me.
There is no wind, and no sound.
Tall buildings loom high above one grey wall in particular staring down at me with black drain pipes snaking across its face like veins.
Shadows loom menacingly all around me.
I feel claustrophobic, small, afraid…my senses are under attack.
I am standing on Wimbledon’s most haunted street at night.
Hillside’s reputation for the paranormal stems from some unusual past residents; a spiritualist group called ‘The House of the Red Cloud’, so called for leader Estelle Robert’s native American spiritual guide. From 1934-1941, they engaged in the mystic art of channelling spirits.
Mrs Robert, who was fundamental in getting Parliament to legalise the Spiritualist Movement during the 1950s, reportedly once channelled Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Sadly, Hillside contains no plaque to this unorthodox visit by the famous author, nor a marker for the building.
Perhaps these channelers left behind some spiritual residue as there have been numerous ghost sightings since.
As I walk along, I search for evidence of these ghouls. There are cars with messy interiors. Disturbed by the famous poltergeist? Or just messy children?.
Am I near a certain part of the street where the ghost of a little girl has been seen running, just before the witching hour?
Maybe, but there are some other explanations.
The Chinese would think this road has bad feng shui. The awkward angles, the narrowness of the street compared to the size of the houses, and the general feeling of unease I had.
“When I first looked into Wimbledon’s connections with ghosts, I was amazed at how much story material there was, and that an awful lot of mediums used
to live here,” said guide and white witch Dellianne Forget, who will be leading a special tour of Wimbledon’s ghostly haunts.
“London is one of the most haunted places in the world, and Wimbledon is one of the most haunted areas.”
When I returned to Hillside during the day, the street was different, that haunted feeling had faded away, dispersed in the sunshine.
I was greeted by the sight of colourful riders on chestnut horses. A rider tells me the street, which she claims is always jolly, will soon see an influx of children playing due to the half term.
Perhaps then the undead do not roam the street after all? Or perhaps the street is merely trying to lure me with the mundane?
The ghost hunt continues.
I move on to Wimbledon Common, reputed home of phantom prisoners, ghostly highwaymen and indeed wombles.
The streets are getting darker, the night chillier and my stomach begins to rumble. I trundle up along West Side Common and stare into the dark wild of Wimbledon Common itself.
Then the whispering begins – strange screams, childrens’ laughter, giggles and screeches. I turn, trying to find the source through the darkness.
I switch on my recorder and snap at shadows with my camera. My recording from the night has a strange voice-like electronic sound.
Wimbledon Common is said to house the spirit of Jerry Abershaw, the laughing highwayman, who rides along on his phantom steed.
Sightings of the ghost of an escaped convict have also been reported, as indeed have UFOs. Duels have been fought there, and indeed, murder has been committed there.
I do not linger, but I as I return to Wimbledon, I see a group of youths giggling, screaming and screeching on benches.
There are even joggers and cyclists about. No doubt it was their voices, distorted by the distance, that I heard.
I head back to the train station, somewhat disappointed, albeit relieved, that I didn’t see a ghost.
I felt a chill and saw a flicker of smoke from the corner of my eye.
I jumped, and erupted with a “Eurrrghhh!”, my eyes popping and mouth wide in a soundless scream.
The dark, smoking figure stared at me as if I were the ghost, and, in a soft Irish accent, asked me if I was all right.
Who knew Wimbledon could be terrifying?