For actors, seeing a ghost in the theatre is a sign of good fortune. To the rest of us, it’s just terrifying!
Considering the age of London’s West End theatres, it’s not surprising that stories have developed over the years of hauntings and spooky apparitions. Many theatre actors and backstage staff have reported either seeing or hearing strange things that can’t be explained.
Even a member of our group experienced something during a group tour of the Theatre Royal Haymarket a few years ago. Whilst taking a selfie, a mysterious figure was caught behind her in the photo she took (photo below).
A few sightings from some of the West End theatres below:
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
The theatre is one of the most haunted. A number of ghosts walk the halls and stalls of Drury Lane, the most famous of which is the Man in Grey. Eyewitnesses have reported seeing a 18th century nobleman dressed in a tricorne hat, cape and riding boots in the upper circle, even telling audience members to “shhh”. He is said to be the ghost of a man whose stabbed skeleton was discovered in a walled-up passage near the royal box when the theatre was undergoing renovations. He’s not alone: the ghosts of clowns Joseph Grimaldi and Dan Leno have also been spotted roaming the stage.
Shakespearean actor William Terriss was murdered at the Adelphi’s stage door in 1897 by a former friend and fellow actor Richard Archer Prince. He died in the arms of his leading lady and rumoured lover, who he vowed to visit after his death. He is said to knock on her dressing room door to this day.
Theatre Royal Haymarket
The theatre has a friendly ghost in the shape of former manager John Baldwin Buckstone, who wrote and directed hundreds of plays at the theatre in the 1800s. He’s been spotted by a number of actors including Dame Judi Dench and Sir Patrick Stewart, who claimed to spot the man in a beige coat and twill trousers watching his performance in Waiting for Godot.
Her Majesty’s Theatre
Sir Herbert Beerbohm-Tree was an actor and manager of the theatre, funding its rebuild in 1899. His favourite place to watch performances was said to be the top box on stage right. Audience members sitting in the top box have complained of sudden temperature drops and the door swinging open of its own accord.