Strange Footsteps, Temperature Drops, And Hands From Nowhere: Haunted And Haunting Underground Places

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
October 30, 2021
Estimated Reading Time
27 min read
Posted in
Supernatural, Ghosts & Hauntings

Perhaps because of the connections to notions such as Hell and the simple fact that such locations are “closed in” and away from others, places under the ground often take on a sinister feel to them.

There is no doubt, that some of these subterranean locations have more to them than just an overall ominous feel, with many being awash with paranormal happenings, strange sightings, and all manner of unsettling encounters. What makes these underground locations apparent magnets for otherworldly and dark activity.

We will examine several strange and very unnerving locations, one of which I have had personal experience with and is indeed a truly unsettling place, at least at times. We will also examine several of the very haunted underground stations of the famous London Underground, which given its age perhaps should not surprise us that such stories that are connected to them. There are also unique locations such as the South Bridge Vaults in Edinburgh in Scotland or the Paris Catacombs in France. In short, there are many spooky underground places to examine.

First, though, we will start with a bizarre location that I can only reveal was somewhere in Yorkshire, and could very well still be experiencing strange sightings and activity today.

A Truly Haunting Location “Somewhere In Yorkshire”

It is perhaps best to start this with a location that I can’t name in case the current owners of the building experience any unintended repercussions as a result, but of a location that I myself spent considerable time at through employment with the (then) owners of the building and experienced several strange encounters myself.

Before it was acting in the capacity of a local newspaper office, this listed building had a long history of other businesses operating out of there, perhaps most predominantly as a chemist and tea house, with many different, smaller rooms and strange stairways in the back of the building that were used for a variety of purposes. There were even rumors (although I have yet to find any official records) that at least part of the building was used to house child workers during the 1800s – with at least one apparent psychic saying the conditions were far from good, if not often deadly (we will come back to this shortly).

Indeed, the “old building”, in places, had seemingly been connected to the new building, meaning you would go to modern well-lit corridors to twisting, dark stairs that seemingly headed straight down at an uncomfortable angle by opening an equally strangely placed door. Many people remarked that these connecting stairways and corridors were akin to a rabbit warren.

One particularly unsettling account came from a person I worked with closely for several years. She would state that several years earlier after having arrived earlier, she had gotten up to go the upstairs kitchen (which was officially for management and the editorial department, but this person often used it anyway) which was accessed by one of those winding stairs. After returning with their cup of tea and after having opened the door from stairs into the corridor next to their office, they were more than shocked to see a little girl dressed in Victorian-era clothes stood looking at them. Even more unnerving, the young girl then said, “Hello Mummy”, before walking away and disappearing. The witness in question still has no explanation for what they witnessed but was certain it was not any type of hallucination.

Part of my duties involved working late into the evening and taking proof copies of pages and advertisements to the desks of the advertising teams and press teams so they would be there waiting for them the following morning (this was before the wide embracement of the Internet and internal servers). In order to access these officers, I had to venture down these old corridors and strange, winding stairways in the same location as the above incident. And while I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary, on occasion, I often had the sudden compulsion to leave a room as quickly as possible and not look back. There was one part of the building, however, where I most certainly did experience something unnerving and, to my mind, very real.

The Basement – Menacing, Even In The Light!

Perhaps of the actual locations in that old building was the basement which, of course, was under the ground. And what’s more, if you wanted a cup of tea or if you smoked or were unlucky enough to go and search the records for archived paperwork, you had to venture down there – which encompassed almost everyone at one stage or another.

What made the walk to the “smoking room” and the kitchen all the more unnerving was that they resided at the end of a long, thin corridor that was menacing when lit up, and even more so if you the first person down there each day and had to take the first few steps in the dark before reaching the light switch, which, for several years, I was more often than not. And one morning, something truly strange occurred.

I usually arrived at the building just before 8 am, and aside from a few members of editorial on the top floors, was usually the first one in the building, and almost always the first person to venture to the kitchen in the basement meaning I would have to step from the stairs into the corridor and flick the light switch before waiting a second or two for the strip lights to come to life. It was no different this particular morning.

However, as soon the lights came on and I began walking down the corridor, I heard what sound like footsteps behind me. I continued to walk at first, thinking they might have been the echo of my own steps, or even the footsteps of someone walking on the pavement above me. However, not only were the clearly coming from directly behind me, but they were seemingly getting closer.

I stopped and turned around. No one was there, but the footsteps continued. The got closer before they sounded as though they were passing directly past me. They then appeared to “walk” up the corridor and eventually faded into the distance. To say I was unnerved would have been an understatement. I did return to the kitchen a short time later, but my initial reaction was to turn around and contemplate the incident at my desk for several minutes.

Who or what the footsteps belonged to remains unknown.

Many Encounters With An “Invisible” Presence

My encounter was not the first, and far from the only one, with many people claiming to have heard similar strange footsteps, with some stating they could the sound of someone breathing as they “walked” past them, and one person even claiming they had been “shoved” as if by a pair of invisible hands.

Another intriguing account from this basement area involved a member of staff who was attempting to open a door they knew was unlocked in order to search for particular paper records. Despite how much they tried, not only would the door not open, but the handle refused to budge one bit – as if it were being held fast from the other side. Then, just like that, the resistance ceased, the handle moved, and the door opened. Needless to say, the person concerned was no longer in a hurry to enter the room and instead went to get another member of staff to join them.

These are just some of the encounters that were reported by members of staff in this underground part of the old building. While there were undoubtedly strange sightings all around the building, the vast majority of them took place here. Why might that have been?

Perhaps the strangest incident of all, though, occurred not in the basement, but on the top floor. And it is there we will turn our attention to next.

One Last Incident!

At the start of 2015, the company I worked for had decided to leave the building and take up residence in a much more modern, purpose-built location in the heart of the town center. In the week prior to the move, much time was spent backing personal belonging and work-use items ready for the move. By this point, the departments I worked for had been moved upstairs, with some of those offices occupying the older part of the building.

On the last evening before the move, an incident unfolded that left several members of the staff quite shaken. I should say, I had already left the premises around about two hours before the following events occurred, but I heard accounts of it from several people the next day, with at least one person refusing to go back to the top floor where the incident occurred the following morning in order to obtain her personal items. Not only were the vast majority of accounts almost identical, each person spoke of the incident in a serious, unsettled way.

It was nearing 5 pm – time when those in the office would pack away for the last time. By all accounts, and as we might imagine, the room was full of reminiscent chatter of the years many of the staff had spent there. The mood was generally joyful if reserved. Then, things changed.

Despite there being no wind to speak of outside, all of the windows in the room suddenly flung open. This was accompanied by a loud undetermined noise. Shocked into silence for a second or two, some staff stood and went to close the windows only for them to once again fling open. A general feeling of terror and fear appeared to take over the room, with one witness claiming you could “feel something evil” around them.

Once more, the windows were shut, and this time they remained so. During this, one person in the room had reached for their phone and snapped a picture in the general direction of the windows. However, when they viewed it was merely a screen of black. Then, the more they studied it, the more they could see the faint outline that appeared very much like a person.

A “Dangerous, Evil” Person!

The picture was quickly shown around the office, with some people not being able to look at it, claiming it made them feel terrified to do so, as if it some exuded fear itself. I was shown the picture the following morning. And while it is perhaps something open to interpretation, the outline and shadowy figure of a particularly heavy-set man was visible. Was this the entity, the “evil” that those in the office during the episode claimed they had felt? I have to admit, while I was happy to study the picture at length (which I did), I did have a particularly ominous feeling run through me when I did so.

The person who had taken the picture had shown it to a friend who claims to have psychic abilities (we should note, while I can’t vouch for this person personally, many others had used her services and would appear to have been very satisfied by the results). This person claimed that the figure was indeed an entity. And what’s more, he was a “dangerous and evil person” – both when he was alive, and even now.

If we recall the claims that, at least unofficially, part of the building was home to a workhouse for child laborers, the psychic claimed that this entity was the person who had overseen this premises. And what’s more, many of those who lived there suffered horrendous abuse. Although they were uncertain of how he had died, he had seemingly died a violent death, and as such, his spirit had remained in the building since. Was this the presence many felt in the basement area and whose footsteps many had heard?

Whether he had become displeased at being left alone in the soon-to-be vacated building is perhaps open to debate.

Edinburgh’s South Bridge Underground Vaults

While I am unaware of any official paranormal investigation taking place at the above location, there have been several such investigations of our next haunted spot. Under Edinburgh’s South Bridge is a network of tunnels and vaults – and they are said to be home to some of the most intense paranormal activity in the whole of the United Kingdom. [1]

The bridge itself was completed in 1788 (although it began almost two decades previously) as a way of connecting the rapidly growing population of Edinburgh with the old part of the city. On either side of the bridge, shops and small businesses were built and ultimately closed the arches of the bridge and ultimately created the vaults which business owners used to create workshops, space for other businesses to rent, as well as storage areas and even very small living quarters. [2] Paranormal writer quotes Des Brogan, who wrote in his book Hidden and Haunted: Underground Edinburgh that “by the middle of the 19th century, these vaulted areas were being used as workshops by many of the people who lived in the tenements”. And these businesses ranged from “cobblers, butchers, wine merchants, bookbinders, and jewelers” to name but a few.

However, it would appear the often harsh, rainy weather of Scotland took its toll on the bridge, specifically the lower parts where the vaults were, as rainwater leaked constantly there and ultimately allowed disease and ill-health to thrive. By this time, many of the business owners – not necessarily wealthy, but financially sound enough to be able to move to better housing elsewhere in the city. And while they would still operate their businesses from the South Bridge, their living quarters now stood empty. Because of the worsening conditions, these living quarters were often all that was available to those on the low rungs of society and the vaults quickly took on a “ghetto” or “slum” dynamic.

Not long after the authorities made the decision to remove the remaining tenants and rehouse them due to the increasingly squalid conditions, this dynamic quickly morphed into a criminal one, with illegal bars, gambling dens, and brothels operating out of the vaults. Many murders often occurred here and the vaults were essentially a no-go area for most of society.

They eventually sealed off but were rediscovered in the 1980s by international rugby player, Norrie Rowan, whose land had part of the vaults on it. Sensing a business opportunity, Rowan quickly installed electric lighting in the “underground city” that he had discovered and arranged for a tour company to give guided tours. Not long after, tales of paranormal encounters swirled.

Cursed From The Start?

According to some sources, the South Bridge and the surrounding areas (including the vaults) were cursed before any of the activity mentioned above even took place. It is said that Edinburgh’s oldest resident had been arranged to make the first crossing of the bridge when it opened. However, the elderly lady died quite literally immediately before the official opening. [3] She would ultimately cross the bridge in her coffin as they became the first thing across South Bridge. Following this incident, rumors of a course ran through the community, with some people now refusing to step foot on the bridge.

However, it was in the modern age following their rediscovery when paranormal encounters began to be reported. One of those involved in the guided tours was the previously mentioned Des Brogan. He would state that if any one in the respective groups “were at all sensitive to the other world, they would feel very uncomfortable”.

Brogan would even speak of one particular person who claimed to have witnessed a number of apparitions while in the vaults which she described to Brogan in great detail. He would keep a record of the ghostly figures and when other mediums entered the vaults was more than shocked that they described the exact same figures.

Many people report seeing ghostly children running through the vaults, while others see men and woman who are there one moment and gone the next. All are likely to have resided or worked in the vaults in the late 1700s and early 1800s. There has also been strange voices heard in the subterranean environment, and some people even report being grabbed or scratched by an unseen assailant (often resulting in bruising or scratch marks).

As well as the ghosts of people there were even reports of phantom dogs appearing at a person’s feet before disappearing right in front of them.

There is, though, one entity that is seemingly more terrifying and disturbing than the others.

The Watcher Or “Mr. Boots”

The most concerning and commonly seen entity is sometimes called The Watcher but more commonly referred to as Mr. Boots. His name has been bestowed upon him by investigators as when he has been seen he is wearing knee-length boots with “very rough trousers” stuffed into them. Des Brogan described this entity as being “unkempt and unshaven, and with very bad breath” which people often report suddenly noticing.

What is interesting about this character is that his presence appears to be in only one particular room of the vaults. According to some paranormal investigators and psychics, there is also the presence of a young girl in the same room – a girl that some claim Mr. Boots murdered there (although there are no records to back this up so it is uncertain if this is accurate).

Perhaps of further interest, when some of these mediums have communicated with this sinister spirit, he has informed them that all candles must be put on the floor and not to be shined near his face. What’s more, he is not at all happy with people being in the room. Quite often, the lights in the room will blow and so plunging whoever might be in there into complete darkness. Incidentally, the lights have always showed no reason for failing when they have been checked after such incidents.

Although he only seems to appear in this one specific area, his “heavy footsteps” are often heard throughout the vaults, as well as the distinct jangling of keys as he walks. Some people have even reported hearing him tell them to “get out” with some even being pushed or pulled toward the door.

Because of his territorial-like behavior, some researchers and investigators suggest he was some kind of watchmen or security officer for the vaults during late-18th and early 19th centuries – a time when many valuables were loaded and stored in the vaults, valuables that were of interest to local criminals and gangs. What’s more, due to the direct interaction with people (physically touching, speaking etc.) activity surrounding Mr. Boots is classed as an “intelligent haunting”. And there are certainly some specific encounters with this potentially ghostly watchman for us to examine.

Perhaps some of the most chilling accounts come from the guides of the tours themselves. One such guide, for example, would state that after the guests had left for the evening they were blowing out the candles of the vaults as they made their way to the exit in order to lock up. However, as he was doing this he suddenly heard heavy footsteps heading down the corridor toward him. They would eventually come to a stop at the vault he was standing in. Although he couldn’t see anything, he claimed he could sense some looking at him. After several moments, the footsteps carried on down the hallway.

Another incident involving one of the guides is no less spinetingling. She too was blowing out the candles at the end of the night. She had almost done them all, realizing there were two more at the end of the corridor, which she could see from where she was. She set out in their direction and then noticed how they appeared to dim somewhat. This made her stop and watch the now dull candles to see if she could work out why they had suddenly dimmed. As she was looking at them, however, a dark figure suddenly moved to one side and the lights were suddenly bright once again.

The Paris Catacombs

It is very much worth our time examining the Paris Catacombs, a network of tunnels under the city that contain the skeletal remains of many of its one-time residents. The tunnels themselves date back centuries and were originally made by the Romans as they quarried for limestone. However, rather than the open-air quarries of the Romans, it was in 1180 when the real tunneling under the ground began under the orders of King Philippe-Auguste.

This went one, again for centuries until the 1700s when the now huge city that was Paris was suddenly under threat from the hollow areas under it. After several buildings collapsed, the most dangerous parts of the tunnel networks were closed and filled in in 1777.

At around the same time, another problem burdening Paris was the number of graves and lack of room for further ones. Indeed, in some cases, the dead were “buried” in a specially designed building. There were even cases of dead bodies being pushed through to the surface of the swollen ground below.

By 1785, with the problem so bad, a decision was made to take the bones of the dead and place in the tunnel systems below the ground, and the catacombs as we know then today were born. And, perhaps because of the notion that the dead don’t wish to be disturbed, with its creation came a while host of strange tales of spooky sightings.

As we might imagine, as well as many bloodcurdling sightings of strange figures and entities, there a number of myths and urban legends that now surround the catacombs. [4]

Perhaps one specific incident that stands above the rest is commonly known as The Uncovered Video Camera incident. The incident involved a group who were exploring the catacombs that lay off the official route discovered a video camera on the stone floor of one of the tunnels. When they examined it, they discovered it had footage on it and they promptly rewound it and pressed play. As they watched, they heard strange and unsettling noises, as if someone was in great distress.

The more they viewed it became apparent the noises were seemingly coming from the cameraman himself, and it appeared he was deeply lost and confused. Then, the man simply drops the camera to the ground. The footage doesn’t show if he himself continued or if fell. His identity and whereabouts remains completely unknown.

What is perhaps interesting is that some legends claim that in the nighttime hours, strange voices can be heard from the walls that beckon anyone who might hear them to enter into the tunnel networks further and further, often resulting in them becoming helplessly lost. Had this happened to this man?

The incident is said to have been (at least partly) the inspiration for the film As Above, So Below, which you can see a trailer for below.

How true the incident might be in reality is perhaps open to debate. It is easy to imagine a person getting lost should they venture into what is undoubtedly a stone maze deep below the streets of Paris. And we should note that many people do venture into the tunnel network (although it is completely illegal to do so). Indeed, as we shall see in a moment, there have been some remarkable discoveries made in the system by authorities. However, it is not at all clear if there is any type of paranormal activity involved in any potential disappearances.

You can view that video footage below.

“Don’t Search!”

That people do venture down to the forbidden tunnels of the catacombs, most do so without incident (although we should note it is not wise to do this). When authorities or employees of the site have found themselves having to visit these out of the way networks and chambers.

For example, in 2004 a police unit who were searching the catacombs for such activity discovered a bizarre PA set-up that had a recording of a guard dog barking set up to play. What’s more, there was an electrical gallery where phones could be charged using pirated electricity.

Even more bizarre, though, was the discovery of an entire underground facility, featuring a bar, a living area, a lounge, a workshop of some kind, and a cinema room with 20 seats carved into the stone of the catacombs itself. When the officers happened to look up to the ceiling, they noticed several video cameras that were recording and watching their every move.

Things turned even stranger several days later when the officers returned with another unit to conduct a more thorough search. When they located the area they had made the bizarre discoveries they were more than shocked to find that none of it remained. Everything they had witnessed had been removed, with no sign whatsoever that it had ever been there.

They did, though, find a note. It read, “Ne cherchez pas” – “don’t search”. Make of that what you will.

Underground Rail Stations Of London

It is perhaps no surprise that many of the underground rail networks of the world are also home to ghostly happenings and spooky goings-on. And given that it was one of the most widespread, busiest, and oldest networks in the world, many of the underground tube stations of the London Underground are said to be some of the most haunted such locations on the planet. [5]

For example, there is alleged ghost of an actress who was regularly seen by workmen and security officers at the old Aldwych Station (now closed) which was built on the exact same location as the Royal Strand Theatre. There are also the morse-code like bangs often heard at Piccadilly Station, as if someone from the other side is trying to communicate. The underground station at the Elephant and Castle is said to be home to footsteps made by invisible feet, unnerving banging noises, doors slamming shut or opening as if pushed or pulled by invisible hands, and perhaps most unsettling of all, a strange woman who has been reported boarding a train at the station but then not ever seen leaving it elsewhere on the line.

Perhaps one of the most disturbing apparitions is that of the tall man wearing a Victorian-style had and cloak at Covent Gardens, said to be actor William Terriss who was murdered where the station now stands in 1897. Some workers have had such terrifying encounters with Terriss’ alleged ghost that they have insisted on transfers to other stations.

So, while we will certainly turn our attention to some of the other allegedly haunted underground train stations around the world shortly, we will first examine some of the legends and accounts from those of London’s historic underground rail systems.

The Ghosts Of Liverpool Street Station

Perhaps a good place to start would be with Liverpool Street Station, where multiple staff have reported strange figures and ghostly activity over the years. Many of these figures have been captured on the station’s CCTV cameras, while many passengers have reported seeing a man in overalls walking up and down the platform before disappearing.

Maybe part of the reason for all the ghostly goings-on at Liverpool Street Station is the fact that it was built over the site of a mass grave, with over 3000 skeletal remains discovered in the area in 2015. It is thought that the remains belonged to victims of the Black Death and certainly would have met with an untimely, undignified, and harrowing end.

Perhaps one of the most seen figures is that of the ghost of a woman who was an inmate at Bedlam Hospital (formerly Bethlehem Royal Hospital where mentally unwell patients were treated, which once stood where Liverpool Street Station stands today). [6]

According to those who have encountered the strange spirit, her screams can be heard echoing around the station, as well as the tunnels that connect it. According to the research of David Brandon and Alan Brooke, the woman in question was treated at the hospital at some time in the 1780s. It is said that while she was at the hospital – which, incidentally, had a reputation for mistreating patients – she would cling to specific coin, screaming and clawing at any person who tried to take it from her. However, when she died, the coin was taken from her dead hands and she was ultimately buried without it. It is claimed this is the reason her spirit seemingly walks the tunnels of the station, in search of her prized possession.

The Ghost Of The Murdered Girl At Farringdon Underground Station

There are certainly other underground stations where people claim to hear strange screams coming out of nowhere. And what’s more, reports of these strange screams are more common than many people would think.

It is claimed that they belong to the ghost of 13-year-old, Anne Naylor, who was an apprentice hat maker and was murdered by her employer in 1758 before her lifeless body was dumped on the site of the current station. According to official records, Anne lived in the Farrington area at a time when it was awash with criminal gangs and “gambling dens”, as well as having a generally poor reputation. Anne had the misfortune to be put to work as an apprentice with a particularly “sadistic” mother and daughter, who would often beat the young girl and force to go for days at a time without food. In fact, it was one of these routine beatings that resulted in the young girl’s death.

They initially decided to store her remains in their attic but quickly realized the smell of the decaying body would give them away. They then proceeded to chop up her remains and attempt to burn them on their fire but realized this would also alert people to their crime. They gathered up the remains and dumped them near the sewer, which was at the spot Farringdon Underground Station would eventually be built.

Naylor’s chopped up remains were discovered shortly after, and despite the obvious evidence of foul play, it was ruled that she hadn’t been murdered. It appeared as though the mother and daughter would get away with their crime until, for reasons unknown, they admitted what they had done. Ultimately, both were hanged as murderers.

Almost as soon as the station was built decades later, did people began to report hearing the strange and disturbing screams of a young girl leading many to believe the ghost of Naylor still roams the station today.

The Cries Of Terror And Panic In Bethnal Green Underground Station

Desperate cries of a very different kind are said to be heard in Bethnal Green Underground Station in London’s East End. It would appear these cries are not those from people who lived there centuries ago, but those who used the tunnels as an air raid shelter during the Second World War, not least as it is one of the deeper stations in east London.

This area of the East End of London was largely overpopulated and, generally speaking, poor, and residents would find themselves packed into the underground thousands at a time (the underground could hold around 7000 people) each time the air raid sirens sounded. The panic and fear that must have been felt would surely have been enormous.

However, it would appear to be a specific incident that occurred on the evening of 3rd March 1943 where the origins of the strange cries many people believe they can hear at the station today in the modern world.

According to the account, on the night in question, residents of the area were making their way to the underground facility following the air raid sirens alerting them to an imminent bombing mission by the Germans. However, before any bombs could land, disaster struck inside the underground itself.

A young woman, who was carrying a baby as well as bedding, stumbled as she made her way down the staircases (which was almost completely blacked out). As she did so, another woman with her child fell over her. Before most realized what was happening, more and more people were tripping and falling down the stairs, pushing others over as they did so. Eventually a pile-up of bodies ensued (almost 300 in total) resulting in the eventual deaths of 173 people – most from being crushed or being starved of oxygen. A further 60 people were hospitalized.

What made the incident even worse was an intentional delay in reporting it, with no public statement on the tragedy coming until 36 hours later after the government feared the incident would wreck the moral of the population, and even then, it was stated that a bomb had caused the deaths. It would be half a century before an official recognition of the incident occurred. Many have, perhaps rightly, accused the government of intentionally covering the disaster – the worst such incident of the war in terms of loss of life, and the worst ever such tragedy on the Underground itself.

Over the years and decades that followed, many reports of strange sounds have been reported. Many people claim to hear children crying while others report the screams of desperate women. One particular incident, though, stands out.

One night in 1981 an employee at the station was working on paperwork after he had locked up the station. Knowing he was the only one there, he was rather surprised when he heard the sound of several children crying. He paid it little attention to begin with, thinking it must be filtering in from outside somehow. However, when the cries began to increase in volume he began to suspect something more untoward was happening – feelings that were seemingly confirmed when he heard the sound of a multiple women screaming.

He would eventually run out into the ticket area but there was no one to be seen. The encounter would last around 15 minutes before it suddenly ceased. He would state later that he didn’t want to go back to the office after the incident, and even years later he doesn’t even like to “go through Bethnal Green”.

The Paranormal Activity At Bank Underground Station

Without a doubt one of the most interesting and disturbing in equal measure are the legends connected to Bank Underground Station in the middle of London’s financial district. And perhaps much like Liverpool Street Underground Station that we examined earlier, many of the paranormal happenings are connected to the claims that it was built on the land of a one-time plague pit.

Even more unnerving, is the fact that the station also resides on land that was once the crypt of the St. Mary Woolnoth’s Church, with claims that anywhere from 7000 to 8000 bodies were removed from the location in order for the station to be constructed. And on top of that, during the Second World War a German bomb struck the station while it was being used as an air raid shelter resulting in 56 deaths.

With all of this death, disease, and negative feeling, not to mention the disturbance of dead bodies, it is perhaps easy to understand that such dark energy might reside here within the land and any subsequent foundations themselves. And there is indeed much paranormal activity to examine.

Many commuters and employees alike often report noxious-like toxic smells that seem to appear out of nowhere throughout the station, leading to suggestions of some people making connections to the claims that a plague pit once sat here, not to mention the thousands of residents who once called the crypt their resting place. There are also the bangs often heard from parts of the building that are empty, as well as doors and opening and closing of their own accord.

The most well-known spirit said to haunt Bank Underground Station could very well be that of Sarah Whitehead, sometimes referred to as the Black Nun or the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street. Her ghost is said to not only haunt Bank Underground Station but the Bank of England also, where her body is buried nearby.

According to the story, Sarah lived with her older brother, Philip (officially named Paul), who worked as a banker at the Bank of England in the early 1800s. Although he was only a clerk, he became rather enamored with the lifestyles some of the leading, rich bankers led. So much so, that he quickly get himself into debt in order that he and his sister could live in a similar way (although Sarah was seemingly unaware of his borrowing). Philip would even attempt to make money on the stock market but would end up even further in debt.

He would ultimately, taking the advice of a colleague attempt to forge a cheque in order to fix his finances. However, his employers quickly cottoned on to what he had done, and he was arrested for attempting to fraudulently obtain approximately £3000 in today’s money. He was subsequently found guilty and sentenced to death (records show that a Paul Whitehead was executed in 1812).

Sarah, however, who Philip had arranged to stay with friends at the time, was completely unaware of her brother’s financial troubles, arrest, or execution when she returned. She would make repeated visits to the Bank of England asking anyone who worked there if they had seen him. Eventually, she was told the truth of what had happened.

It would appear that Sarah went into a permanent state of shock upon hearing the news. She would begin dressing completely in black. She would also return to the bank – sometimes daily – asking employees if they had seen her brother, as though she simply refused to believe the facts of his death.

The bankers took pity on her to begin with, often giving her food and money and chatting with her a little. However, as the years went on and her visits continued, with her becoming more and more erratic in her behavior began to make bank employees unnerved by her. It would appear she eventually passed away at some time between 1837 and 1842. And while her visits in the physical sense stopped, her spirit continued to be seen at the Bank of England, as well as along the tunnels of Bank Underground Station.

Perhaps one of the most unnerving of these sightings took place in 2001 when a London Underground employee sported an elderly lady dressed in black stood in one of the corridors of the station on the CCTV system. It was 2 am and the station was locked meaning there should have been nobody there. Unsure exactly of what he was seeing he went to investigate.

He eventually found the tunnel where the lady was stood. And indeed, she was still there. He walked toward her and stated that as he did so “she looked up straight at me, looked down again and turned and walked away”. As she did so, the security guard went after her, but she neared a bend in the tunnel she simply disappeared. Despite the gates to the station being locked and despite an intensive search of all of the CCTV recordings, the old lady could not be located.

Perhaps most interesting, though, is the overall feeling reported by many who enter the station of sadness, and even despair. Feelings that appear to lift as soon as a person is out of the station. Might it be that this buildup of negative energy is to such levels that it seeps into a person’s subconscious and changing their own feelings? Perhaps the feelings people are sensing are those of Sarah Whitehead.

The Ghostly Legends Of The British Museum-Holburn Station

Although it is perhaps hard to tell where the legends start and the solid facts end, the apparent ghost of Holburn Station and the British Museum are extremely thought-provoking, not least as the apparent ghost is said to be the spirit of an Ancient Egyptian woman.

British Museum Station opened at the start of the twentieth century in order to link the British Museum to the rail network. However, by 1933, the line was closed due to the opening of Holburn, which was only meters away and much more modern and passenger friendly. It is alleged, though, that a secret tunnel still linked the museum to the station – a tunnel that legends claim is home to ghosts and paranormal entities.

Perhaps the most fascinating of these is that of the Ancient Egyptian woman, apparently named Amen-Ra after the Ancient Egyptian god. It is said the woman’s mummy sits in the British Museum and that her ghost has been seen in this secret tunnel on several occasions. Many people also report hearing her shrieks of rage, which can also be heard in the station itself.

According to one legend, the Ancient Egyptian spirit is responsible for the disappearance of two women one night in 1935, who were said to have simply vanished while walking through the tunnels of Holburn Station. What’s more, on the night of their disappearance, the strange and unnerving shrieks and screams were heard from the tunnels around the station. Even stranger, some reports even suggest the sudden appearance of scratch marks on the walls of the recently closed British Museum Station shortly after the apparent disappearances. We should note, it is uncertain how much truth there is in this particular legend, as it appears that there are no newspaper reports from the entire year mentioning the disappearances.

What is interesting, is the apparent string of bad luck that befell the person who purchased the (then) recently discovered mummy, Thomas Douglas Murray. Shortly after the purchase and when Murray had sent the mummy on its way to London, he was wounded in an accidental shooting – a wound so bad that he would ultimately have to have his arm amputated. Even stranger, is the claim that two of Murray’s servants who had helped ship the mummy died sudden deaths not long after.

Once he was back in England, the apparent bad luck continued for anyone who came into contact with the mummy, with it eventually ending up in the possession of one of Murray’s friend’s sister. She was eager to have it photographed. However, when the photographer was developing the pictures he claimed to have seen the face of a “living Egyptian woman” who “stared furiously with an expression of singular malevolence”. Incidentally, legends say the photographer soon passed away suddenly.

It was eventually donated to the British museum where the strange activity and apparent curse continued. Many visitors, for example, who made sketches or took photographs of the mummy are said to have died shortly after, while staff at the Museum began hearing strange bangs in the building and strange cries of a distressed woman. And these hauntings it seemed, stretched as far as the British Museum Station, and then Holburn Station shortly after.

Other Haunted Undergrounds

There are, of course, many apparently haunted underground train stations from around the world. And while there is not as perhaps as large a concentration in one place as there is in London, some are simply too intriguing and hair-raising to ignore.

Perhaps one of the most notorious is Caobao Road Subway Station in China, particularly Line 1, which has several strange and unsettling incidents connected to it, not least nine deaths. There are also regular reports of trains breaking down on this line, as well as strange entities and apparitions. One particular sighting is of a girl dressed in red who began appearing days after a person fitting her description took her own life at the station. Other commuters and railway staff have reported hearing the unnerving laughter of a woman that appears to be coming from the darkness of the tunnels. There have further been reports of commuters being pushed onto the tracks by an apparent invisible force.

Another extremely disturbing underground station can be found in Mexico, the Panteones Metro Station in Mexico City. It is claimed that many strange knocking sounds can be heard coming from the tunnel walks and even strange shadow figures that disappear when approached. Even more harrowing are the screams that many employees state they hear coming from the darkness of the tunnels. It is perhaps worth noting that the station was built close to an old cemetery, which very well account for these ghoulish goings-on.

Bisham MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) Station in Singapore is also home to some intriguing encounters, perhaps not least because it was also built on top of Bi Shan Teng cemetery. As soon as the station opened in 1987, stories of strange sounds and bizarre phantom-like entities began to circulate. Some passengers even report being pushed or grabbed by an invisible pair of hands, while other claim to hear footsteps on top of the trains themselves. Even stranger, many employees – in particular maintenance workers who work on the actual tracks – have reported seeing people walking carrying coffins before disappearing. Perhaps the most unnerving sighting is that of a headless figure who is often seen briefly in the station, usually on the tracks, before disappearing into thin air.

Are Underground Locations More Haunted?

As we can see, then, there are a number of chilling and disturbing underground locations around the world, each with their own claims of ghosts and associated paranormal activity. And while there are plenty of such places around the planet above the ground, might these subterranean locations be more disturbing and indeed intense?

Might negative energy build up and then manifest itself in a much more intense way under the ground? Might this make such paranormal encounters equally more intense? Or might the closed-in environment play tricks on the mind which, while not negating the activity or entity witnessed, only that it was experienced in a stronger way? If either of those suggestions are true, might we suspect that this has played a part in why we imagine Hell along with all the demons and tortured souls that inhabit it being underground, or below?

Without a doubt, even the bravest of people would likely become a little unnerved in some of the underground locations we have examined here. There does appear to be, though, significant paranormal activity in these out of the way place. So much so, that they can’t be ignored and require much further study.

The video below examines some of the most haunted underground places.


1 The World’s Most Haunted Places: From the Secret Files of, Jeff Belanger, ISBN 9781601 631930
2 The Watcher, The South Bridge Vaults, Haunting Nights
3 Are the South Bridge vaults the most haunted place in Edinburgh?, The Edinburgh Evening News, January 15th, 2018
4 Bone-Chilling Paris Catacombs Legends And Myths, The Tour Guy
5 London Underground’s 7 Most Haunted Stations, David Castleton, The Serpent’s Pen
6 London Underground: The crazy ghost whose desperate screams ‘haunt’ Liverpool Street station, Martin Elvery, My London News

Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies, and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years of experience.

Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

Read Marcus' full bio.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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