Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Langham Ghosts Spook England Cricketers

The Langham Hotel in Marylebone, London, is known to be home to a number of ghosts who have been seen by a large number of witnesses.  To be added to the list now are members of the England Cricket Team who were spooked into changing rooms during a recent stay in the venerable hotel.

History of the Langham

The hotel opened in June 1865 on the land where the Foley House had stood until the Foley family line had ended after a series of unfortunate deaths.  The hotel was the first to use elevators that were called rising rooms at the time and also to feature air conditioning, hot water in every room and was decorated with 15,000 yards of Persian tapestry for a touch of pure luxury.

During World War II, it was used by the English army and was damaged by German bombings as well as being dying inside its walls.  After this, the BBC took possession of the building and in 1965, the BBC Club operated from the premises.  In 1986, the hotel was sold once again and after a $1.5 million restoration, it opened its doors again on March 4th 1991.

The hotel has had a large number of prestigious guests over the course of its history including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain and Napoleon III, of whom we will hear more later.

Cricketers Encounters

According to the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board), some of their players are already convinced that the hotel is haunted.  Several players requested to have their rooms changed and a number of wives declined to stay in the hotel after a series of strange noises and lights as well as taps turning on and off and spirits wandering around the hallways.

Player Stuart Broad said he was in his room when the taps turned on in the bathroom.  He turned on the lights only for the taps to turn back off and when he turned the lights out, the taps were back on again.  He was so unnerved by the activity that he requested a change of rooms.
Two other players, including wicketkeeper Matt Prior, were said to have felt presences in their rooms and were unable to sleep.

Ghosts of the Langham

As to who the ghosts were that disturbed the cricketers, there are a few candidates to choose from.  It is doubtful they encountered the ghost known for tipping beds as this would probably have been mentioned in the reports.  This ghost is a joker who enjoys tipping people out of their beds in the middle of the night and there are reports going back to the BBC times of people being woken by someone bouncing on their bed.  In 2003, one guest was so terrified by his antics that he fled the hotel in the middle of the night and refused to return to the hotel.

Perhaps the presence felt may have been the ghost of the silver haired doctor.  Since the 1960s, after the BBC took control of the building, a man was seen around the hotel with grey hair and dressed in Victorian clothing.  He wore a black coat and had a glazed look to him.  He was said to have committing suicide after murdering his bride in the hotel.

Some of the illustrious guests in the hotel’s history may have never left the premises after their stay.  Napoleon III has been seen in the hotel basement as well as the spirit of a German price who jumped from a window after the outbreak of the First World War.  There is also a German soldier patrolling the hotel wearing a military-style button up jacket and staring silently from a fourth-floor window.

One of the oldest ghosts is that of a footman who dates from the times when the Foley House stood on the property.  His presence is marked by a cold feeling.

Room 333

Finally, the most famous haunting in the hotel is that of Room 333.  One first hand report came from BBC Radio Announcer Alexander Gordon who was staying there in 1973 when he saw a fluorescent ball that changed into a man wearing Victorian eveningwear.  Gordon asked what the ghost wanted and it floated towards him, allowing him to see that its legs were missing two feet from the ground.  Its arms reached towards him, its eyes empty at which point he fled.  A colleague went back into the room with Gordon and they both saw the ghost slowly fading away.

A side note is that the floors of the hotel were raised two feet to allow central heating pipes to be installed, perhaps explaining why the lower parts of the spirit’s legs were missing – he was walking on the old floor level.

A desk clerk at the hotel said that most people avoid the room and those who have stayed in it are unaware of the stories.  He said he himself refused to step onto the 3rd floor at all.

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