Halloween crossed the pond a few years ago but there was plenty of spooktacular stuff to do in London long before the bootiful holiday took off. Think about it, just for a second. It’s a country steeped in history of dungeons and torture, beheadings and spooky hauntings, so here’s just a smattering of scary stuff to do in and around town.
1. Tower of London – The thousand-year-old Tower complex houses more than just the Crown Jewels. Its royal spirits are said to haunt the turrets and halls at the gateway to the city along the River Thames. Here is where King Henry had Anne Boleyn beheaded for adultery and incest. Legend says her eyes were still moving when the executioner lifted her bloody head. Henry didn’t stop there and also had his fifth wife Catherine Howard executed on the spot. And what about the Young Princes in the Tower who mysteriously disappeared and presumed murdered by their uncle in a grab for the throne. The black crows still hover overhead as unsuspecting tourists pose with Beefeater Guards. NEAREST TUBE: Tower Hill and then just a 5 minute walk across the road. You’ll see the Tower when you exit the station.
2. Hampton Court Palace – It’s one of the most beautiful royal palaces but torturous King Henry had Catherine Howard dragged from the palace before her beheading at the Tower of London. She is said to walk the halls of the Palace at night. Stay overnight if you dare greet the headless Queen on the way to the loo at night! GETTING THERE: trains run every half hour from London Waterloo Station for the 35 minute ride. There is no Tube to Hampton Court.
3. London Dungeon (Westminster Bridge Rd.) This museum of the grotesque is part camp and part history. Live actors, who begin to haunt you on the street outside, follow you into the dungeon where more than five dozen torture devices are displayed and scenes from Britain’s dark history come to life. For Halloween take part in the “Séance” and get in touch with your otherworldly side. NEAREST TUBE: Waterloo. From there it’s a 5 minute walk toward South Bank and just near the London Eye (you can’t miss it – it’s that gigantic ferris wheel)
4. Warner Bros. Studio Tour – It’s where movie magic comes to life through the world of Harry Potter. The foreboding movie magic mixes with cauldrons of lollipops as the scary and sweet come together for the Dark Arts October 16th through November 1st. GETTING THERE: There is a direct train from London Euston Station to Watford Junction but if you pre-book your tickets you can get a direct shuttle bus from just outside Buckingham Palace.
5. A Ripper Tour – Hunt down the trail of London’s most infamous serial killer through the dark alleys of his murderous rampage. It’s like stepping back to the Autumn of Terror in 1888 when Jack the Ripper terrorized Victorian London. End your night with a Bloody Mary at the Ten Bells Pub where two of the Ripper’s victims were said to have frequented. A tenner will even get you into the “Jack the Ripper Museum” (12 Cable Street)