Although it was an execution that is responsible for the ghost of Threadneedle Street, it is is not the spectre of the hanged man who haunts the area in and around the Bank of England.
In the early 19th century, it was not just murder that carried the death penalty. Many far less serious crimes also did. And it was for forgery that Philip Whitehead, a former employee of the Bank of England, was charged at the Old Bailey on 2nd November 1811. He was found guilty and hanged in early 1812.
In order to spare the feelings of his sister Sarah, the fate of her unfortunate brother was not made known her. One day, she turned up at the Bank and asked to speak to Philip. The clerk, probably not realising who she was, told her the full story. Poor Sarah, the shock drove her mad. Every day after she would enter the Bank of England and ask to speak to her brother. She was always dressed in a black dress with a black veil over her head and face. This earned her the nickname, the 'Black Nun'.
She would even accost Bank customers. She accused Baron Rothschild of stealing £2,000 from her to which he responded by giving her a half a crown and saying that he would pay her rest of her money the following day.
Eventually, in 1818, the Bank officials had had enough. They paid her a large sum of money on condition that she stayed away. She must still have retained a certain amount of sanity, enough to know when she was 'on to a good thing', and she promised not to darken their doors again. And, at least in life, she kept her word.
However, when Sarah died, she was buried in the church yard of St. Christopher-le-Stocks which later became part of the Bank's gardens.
Maybe this is why, many times since her death the so-called 'Ghost of Threadneedle Street' has been seen, late at night, both inside and outside the Bank and also in Bank Underground Station. She is still dressed in black but now she also has strangely red painted cheeks. And looking at the ground, she invariably asks the observer the same question, 'Have you seen my brother?'
Bank of England website
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