At one time the house at 50 Berkeley Square, London, was the home of George Canning who was a British Prime Minister. However, it is not for this that the house was notorious in the mid 1800's, but for the number of deaths for which its alleged haunting was responsible.
There are numerous stories of death connected with the house, the two most famous of which are these.
Story 1 - The challenge
A nobleman, Sir Robert Warboys, heard of the alleged haunted and scoffed at the very idea of 'ghosts'. His friends dared him to spend the night alone in the haunted room and Sir Robert happily accepted their challenge.
The landlord was horrified at the idea but finally agreed to the proposal on two conditions. The first was that Sir Robert would take with him a loaded pistol. The second was that he would use the bell that summoned the servants if he required any assistance.
Shortly after midnight, the servants bell gently rang. After a short pause, the bell started furiously ringing and, as the landlord and the man's friend rushed up the stairs, a shot was heard. They dashed to the room and flung open the door. Sir Robert was cowering in a corner, absolutely petrified, his eyes bulging from their sockets. He was totally unable speak and died shortly after from shock.
Story 2 - The two sailors
What the entity that Sir Robert saw looked like, but not what it was, might be explained by the second story
One Christmas Eve, two sailors on shore leave being unaware of 50 Berkeley Square's evil reputation saw the, 'To let' sign outside the empty house and, being very drunk, decided it would be a good place to spend the night. The ground floor rooms were rather damp so they chose a room on the second floor.
They were woken by the sound of heavy, purposeful footsteps coming up the stairs accompanied by a horrific smell. The door was flung open and there in the doorway was 'a shapeless, slithering, horrible mass'. One man managed to squeeze past and ran to get help but the other was trapped.
When the sailor returned with a policeman, they found the body of the other sailor. He was impaled on the railings outside the house, his face contorted in fear. He had either tried to escape the 'thing' by climbing outside and had fallen. Or he had jumped from the window in an attempt to avoid the terror. Or he had been thrown to his death!
Those who accept that the oft repeated stories of 50 Berkeley Square are true, have tried to find an explanation for the haunting. The two most common theories both suggest a form of 'residual energy' as being the culprit.
The first theory states that the cause was that a Mr. Dupres confined his violently insane brother in an upstairs room from where his groans and screams could clearly be heard in the neighbouring houses. The door to the room was very rarely unlocked as it was unsafe for anyone to enter the room and there was a small hole through which food and water given to the unfortunate man.
The second theory however, points to a certain Mr. Myers who thought that 50 Berkeley Square looked an ideal place to rent as a matrimonial home for himself and his soon to be wife. However, at the last moment, his bride-to-be jilted him and he swore that he would never allow another woman near him. He took to locking himself away in one room during the day and only come out at night when he would wander about the house by candle-light. It was said that after his death, his 'room' had a terrible and chilling atmosphere.
The house today
Whatever the truth about the place, 50 Berkeley Square is now quiet and houses the offices of a respected antiquarian booksellers. Ironic to think that some of the books with which they deal will in all probability have been written about their premises at the time when the haunting was at its height.
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