Redbridge’s most haunted sites revealed on Hallowe’en

09:53 31 October 2012

Claybury Hopsital before it was converted into flats.

Claybury Hopsital before it was converted into flats.

Archant

An orphaned eight-year-old girl who drowned in a sluice, an 18th century wealthy lady of the manor and a number of Victorian asylum inmates have all been sighted in the borough despite being dead.

As All Hallows’ Eve is upon us, reporter Jessica Earnshaw delves into Redbridge’s murky past to uncover sites where past tenants are thought to have never left.

Two ghosts wander St Mary’s Church and grounds still searching for their loved ones.

The first appears as a skeleton apparition which walks through the churchyard in Overton Drive, Wanstead, carrying a coffin while searching for his wife’s body. It is thought to have been stolen by graverobbers, who were rife during the 1820s.

The ghost of a lady dressed in grey, rumoured to be a former owner of Wanstead House, has also been seen in the graveyard tirelessly searching for her husband who she lost shortly after their marriage.

While nothing remains of Wanstead House, the ghost of Catherine Tylney-Long is said to drift through the park where the great house once stood, devastated with the manner in which her cheating husband treated her.

After dying from a stomach ailment following her husband’s bankruptcy, her ghost was condemned to walk the grounds unable to settle following her turbulent married life.

A phantom coach belonging to Queen Elizabeth I is also rumoured to pass through the grounds, en route to meet the Earl of Leicester, who lived at the house during the Tudor dynasty.

When work took place on Valentines Mansion, Emerson Road, Ilford, security men who would patrol the house at night reported hearing heavy footsteps from the windowless attic.

On investigation, the rooms on the top floor were always empty.

Guards also reported an uncomfortable atmosphere and some claim to have seen figures stalking empty corridors.

During a previous paranormal investigation at the mansion, a TV crew member was tidying up when out of the darkness a stone was propelled towards him – but there was no one else there.

There was an eerie warning by a ghost at The Cauliflower Hotel, High Road, Ilford, when it hosted a leaving party for seven-year-old Eva Hart and her family a week before they were due to set sail on the Titanic.

The ghost of eight-year-old Kathy, who drowned near the hotel in the late 1890s, made an appearance.

Builder Ben Hart, 47 – Eva’s father – later told his family: “It seemed like a very bad omen.”

Martin Levin, presenter on The Jumbo Sound radio station based at Goodmayes Hospital, Barley Lane, Goodmayes, has had an interest in paranormal activity for many years and has experienced a number of strange goings-on.

He said: “Sometimes it is more about a certain person than a place. Often people who come back from the dead need reassurance or forgiveness, which is why they appear to the living.

“A presenter I used to work with said they had experienced something strange at the old Goodmayes Hospital and that he was never going back.”

Mr Levin added: “I also heard a lot of people talking about ghosts they had seen on the site of an old mental hospital on the Gywnne Park estate in Woodford Green. People said they had seen visions and experienced poltergeist activity.

“When the homes were first put up there was a very quick turnover by owners.”

The unhappy life of one previous Wanstead woman, who was kept locked up by her family, is thought to have never left the home in which she used to live.

The property is in Beacontree Road, where the shade of an old lady remains, frequenting her old room while a male is also reported to materialise during the night and stand over the beds of any females in the house.

Considered to be one of the borough’s most haunted sites is where Claybury Hospital once stood in Woodford Green. Built in the late 19th century, the former Victorian asylum for the mentally ill was converted into flats, but its strange history did not go unnoticed by residents.

Past inmates have appeared as ghosts on their former wards and people have reported hearing scratching at their front doors and voices when there is no one there.

Finally, the ghost of a two-year-old boy haunts St Paul’s Church in Cross Road, Woodford Green, after being buried there by his relatives.

Thought to be part of the Watkins family, who owned a nearby farm, his ghost is said to ring the church bells at night.

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