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The scariest ghost stories in the West End

Go on a spooky journey through the walls of West End theatres and discover ghost stories that have haunted audiences for generations.

Sophie Thomas
Sophie Thomas

Something wicked this way comes… as ghost stories in London’s West End have stunned audiences for generations. Okay, maybe you can’t see the figures that float through the auditoriums. But over centuries of live theatre in London, the West End has come alive with the sounds of spirits.

Throughout the years, ghastly apparitions have seemingly melted into walls. Poltergeists have thrown unexplainable objects into audiences that have had everyone confused. The West End’s rich history makes it an ideal stomping ground for a host of haunting figures. Get spooky with us as we take you on a journey around the West End, where unbelievable figures lurk.

The Man in Grey at Theatre Royal Drury Lane

Theatre Royal Drury Lane is the oldest working theatre in London and is also known as London’s most haunted theatre. So it’s no surprise that ghosts have been spotted. The most famous ghost to prowl the Theatre Royal Drury Lane is The Man in Grey. The Man in Grey is said to wear a riding cloak and white ruffled shirt and is most likely to be spotted in and around the upper circle.

Even though the Man in Grey is a ghost, feeling his presence is an indication of a successful theatre show. In the theatre’s history, the Man in Grey has visited audience members at The King and I, Oklahoma and South Pacific — the Drury Lane ghost will even push performers into the best positions to deliver their lines on stage.

Joseph Grimaldi

Joseph Grimaldi at Theatre Royal Drury Lane

Even though famous clown Joseph Grimaldi died in 1837, he’s still lurking around the Theatre Royal Drury Lane nearly two centuries later. When theatregoers see the ghostly body of Joseph Grimaldi, he’s typically a white, disembodied face floating around the theatre. Oddly, Grimaldi requested that his head should be severed from his body prior to his burial, which might account for these sightings.

Joseph Grimaldi isn’t always a scary ghost though. He is known among actors, cleaners and ushers for giving them a mischievous kick as they go about their duties. So if you feel Joseph Grimaldi at Theatre Royal Drury Lane, it could be a blessing in disguise.

John Baldwin Buckstone at Theatre Royal Haymarket

John Baldwin Buckstone was once actor-manager at Theatre Royal Haymarket. During his tenure, Buckstone staged 200 plays at the West End venue, before passing away at the age of 77. But Buckstone’s spirit will forever live on at Theatre Royal Haymarket, as his ghostly figure is usually spotted watching the plays in the audience.

Did you know that in 2009, Patrick Stewart saw John Baldwin Buckstone on stage during a performance of Waiting for Godot?


Evelyn Laye at the Piccadilly Theatre

Evelyn Laye starred in the very first production at the Piccadilly Theatre in 1928. So it’s no surprise that Laye wants to remind current performers at the Piccadilly Theatre who rules the roost.

The Hollywood star is now considered to be a Piccadilly poltergeist who always wants to remain on stage — objects were thrown and doors were slammed when her photo was removed from theatre. Evelyn Laye died in 1996 so if she causes the ghostly activity, this makes her a good contender for the most modern ghost in the West End.

The ghosts of New Wimbledon Theatre

Allegedly, when the New Wimbledon Theatre was first built, part of a stage set collapsed and killed an unnamed actress. Since this incident, audience members and performers have felt a strong female presence within the theatre that is said to be this woman.

During a tour of New Wimbledon Theatre, one female visitor was almost knocked backwards by what she described as an incredibly powerful female energy. A few years before that, an usher was clearing away after a performance and heard a woman whistling in the ladies toilet. Could they all be the same ghost, or just unexplainable coincidences?

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