Top six ‘make it a triple’ haunted drinking spots

Written by: Sophie Taylor

Reading up on paranormal activity and sightings in North London we realised we’d never experienced any of the ghostliness first hand. With it being Halloween and all, we thought we’d make like Yvette Fielding and spook the Derek Acorah out of ourselves.

Basically we’re encouraging you to hang out awkwardly in parks, pubs and cemeteries like us and the lumbering under age drinker you once were and always will be.

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1. Paranormal Pint

Old Queen’s Head, 44 Essex Road N1 8LN

The Old Queens Head has been pulling pints since around 1830, at one time owned by political-poetic-soldier-spy, Sir Walter Raleigh.

According to pub regulars, on quiet evenings (specifically the first Sunday of each month) the ghost of a girl can be heard running around the pub and pushing ahead of you up the stairs. Bit rude. A paranormal investigator spoke to a former landlord who, initially alarmed, just “got used to hearing the patter of footsteps, like those of a small child, usually late in the afternoon.” The girl and a woman dressed in Tudor clothing are also heard crying and slamming doors. Ghosts, am I right? Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em.

To look out for: Girl and woman in Tudor clothing running around, crying, generally being irritating.

Drink strength rating: A chilled pint of blond beer was sufficient to keep the ghoulies at bay.

New underwear needed: Intact. If there were any crying ghost girls running around they were lost amongst the rest of us boozy wailers. ’Twas a busy night at the Old Queens Head

2. Ghostly GnT

The Flask77 Highgate W Hill, N6 6BU

The Flask Tavern dates back to the 17th century, pulling pints for the likes of Karl Marx, William Hogarth and even that cheeky Dick Turpin who seems to get around a bit. But these guys are off haunting other pubs and cemeteries. The resident Flask apparition is the ghost of a Spanish barmaid who committed suicide in the pub cellar after realising her feelings for a publican weren’t reciprocal. Said cellar is now a seating area for unsuspecting drinkers, probably suffering their own bout of unrequited love tragedy.

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After one ale too many you might even spot her heartbroken ghost float through the bottom of your drained pint. Either that or you could see a man in a Cavalier’s uniform wandering about the main bar and vanish into a pillar, as he never quite got over his love of cask ale and pork scratching.Spook yourself out some more with stories of the first ever autopsy carried out illegally in the Committee Room on a dug up corpse from Highgate Cemetary. Vom. Their beers are rather tasty though, so don’t get too grossed out.

To look out for: Heartbroken barmaid

                                  Cavalier vanishing into pillar

                                  Cold spots, flickering lights, moving objects

                                  Someone blowing on your neck 

Drink strength rating: Needed double measures of gin with our tonic. Genuinely eerie.

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New underwear needed? Didn’t witness any floating barmaids, but this is one atmospheric pub. When one of the lamps started flickering we downed our drinks a little quicker than usual. 

3. Terrifying Street Tinny

Gloucester Drive, Finsbury Park

Back in the late seventies Stephen King stayed with his writer buddy in Crouch End and never fully recovered. Freaked out by myths of elfin creatures and taking generally creepy park walks, he wrote a short horror story about the area. Just as well he didn’t take a detour down the road to neighbouring Finsbury Park. There are numerous stories of the regular haunting of Finsbury Park back street, Gloucester Drive. On silent nights, residents can hear footsteps starting at number 7 and moving down the street over people’s front gardens.

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Again, the audacity of these ghosts. Complete disregard for common decency. Some have said it sounds more like children playing outside, peering through their blinds to find noone on the streets.

To look out for: Unexplained sounds of cracking twigs and footsteps

                                  Children running

Drink strength rating: Pretty happy with our tin of Red Stripe. Most of the chills came from it being almost November.

New underwear needed? Standing still on the road in silence, we probably creeped out the residents of Gloucester Drive most.

4. Blood Curdling Bloody Mary

The Spaniards InnHampstead NW3 7JJ

If it’s good enough for regulars Dick Turpin, Byron, Keats and Harry Styles* it’s good enough for us. Out back in the beer garden, Keats wrote Ode to a Nightingale one night while Bram Stoker found inspiration for the plot of Dracula from a ghost story that was regularly told amongst the barflies.

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Yes, it’s an attractive pub. But hold those delighted gasps. Much like Harry Styles, this quaint boozer is a lot spookier than it’s well kept thatch and pretty facade would suggest. Located at the edge of Hampstead Heath and close to Kenwood House, The Spaniards Inn was originally built in 1585 as a beautiful country home for James I of England and VI of Scotland. But then along came fiery brothers, Francesco and Juan Porero who transformed the house into an Inn. The two started fighting over a woman, with Juan ending up six feet under the beer garden.

Another landlord was the father of famous highwayman, Dick Turpin. Dick apparently spent a lot of time here, staring out the window and has been spotted pulling up outside with horse, Black Bess still to this day. You know hard it is to move on when you’ve found a good local. Even when you’ve moved on into the afterlife.

* Apparently Styles celebrated his 21st birthday here if you’re bothered about that sort of thing.

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To look out for:  Juan’s ghost in the garden

                                   Harry Styles

                                   Dick Turpin’s ghost and horse, Black Bess outside

                                   Harry Styles

                                   Disembodied hands clutching your clothes**

** Might be Harry Styles

Drink strength rating: A couple of bloody mary’s (that we spiced ourselves) was enough to fend off wandering ghost hands.

New underwear needed? Depends how much of a Harry Styles fan you are. Ahem.

P.S. This Saturday 29th Oct, the Spaniards Inn are hosting tarot and tea leaf readings from 6pm with Lesley from Twilight Ghost Hunts. I wonder if they do cider readings? The outcome will be existentially tragic I imagine. I rarely leave a drop.

5. Strangled Neck Oil IPA

Highgate CemeterySwain’s Ln, N6 6PJ

Highgate Cemetery opened in 1839 as a plan to provide large, modern cemeteries around the outside of London. It is divided into two parts, the East and West cemetery. There are 170,000 people buried here and 53,000 graves. Hmm. Those figures don’t add up so much. Maybe not surprising there are so many troubled spirits lurking in the physical realm round Highgate. Unsettling being three to a grave probably.

Karl Marx’s grave seems to attract the most ghost sightings including a seven foot tall vampire in a long black coat with top hat and piercing eyes. The so-called Highgate Vampire was sighted on separate occasions by a British occultist, David Farrant and the North London Paranormal Investigators. Other sightings include an old woman who runs along the gravestones with her hair flowing as she looks ‘for her children she once murdered’.

Not sure where that particular life detail comes from but hey ho. There was another report of a red-eyed ghoul who peered through the graveyard gates at a man whose car broke down. Terribly unfortunate.

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For the East Cemetery it’s £4 entry for adults and free for children under 18. Admission to the West Cemetery is by guided tour only at £12 for adults and £6 for children (8 to 17 years). Children under 8 are not admitted to the West Cemetery.

To look out for: 7 foot tall vampire with top hat

                                  Red-eyed ghoul

                                  Long haired old woman running

                                  Generic dark shrouded figure

                                  Undertaker. Standard

                                  Floating nun

Drink strength rating: Too freaked out to drink our otherwise yummy can of Beavertown Neck Oil IPA. 

New underwear needed: Yep. Left hurriedly and uncomfortably. Dropped a scarf and did not return for it. 

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6. Cackling Cask Ale

The Holly Bush Inn22 Holly Mount, NW3 6SG

The Holly Bush Inn of Hampstead is over 200 years old and brimming with history and local nostalgia. It’s ornate etched glass panels and original wooden floors beckon you in to sit by their roaring fire and put the world to rights over a local ale or four.

However, if you find yourself ordering a drink that never seems to show up, you may have just met the resident ghost barmaid. Don’t expect that pint to be pulled any time soon. Several customers have fallen for the friendly spirit who, after taking your drinks order, disappears and doesn’t match the description of any other waitress who has ever worked for the pub. Mind you, I definitely used to be that distracted barmaid circa 2005. Left many a frustrated publican in my wake.

To look out for: Friendly yet forgetful barmaids.

Drink strength rating: Grateful our ale was above 7%, put it that way. A poster curled off a wall and I nearly jumped through the window. 

New underwear needed: Bring a spare set of kecks. Our drinks were served by the living, but the atmosphere is spooky enough to make you spill them anyway. 

After all those spirits you’ll probably need a little morning-after TLC, so why not take some kindly advice and go get yourself a hot meal and some hair of the dog. Check out some of the best North London hangover spots here.

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