Explore the author's map to discover strange stories from Mitcham and the surrounding areas.
Part 1 - Mitcham:
The Phantom Cyclist
of Mitcham Common
(update to Strange Mitcham)
A Dark Figure on Mitcham Common
Tales from the
'Calico Jack': The
Playful Ghost of
Lacks the Drapers
The Faces on the Walls:
The Haunted Cottages
in Tramway Path
The 'Haunting' of
Soldier of Graham
The Legend of
Remember the Grotto
The Phantom of
An Apparition at
Woof & Sabine
Haunted Rooms at
The Phantom Cat
Mitcham's (not so)
The Kingston Zodiac
The 'Ghost Tree'
Medicinal Plants and
A Magical Tree
The Wrath of God
A Ghostly Experience
in Morden Road
Mitcham Clock Tower:
When Time Ran
The Rosier Family
The 'Ball of Fire'
UFO over Mitcham
UFO over Tooting
Bec Common, 1990
Part 2 - South of
The Ghosts of
Church & Churchyard
The Figure in the
A Spectral Cavalier
'Haunted Mitcham' Facebook group:
Facebook group set up
by Geoff Mynn in
Thanks to the
and Merton Council
there are some very
maps of Mitcham
Download for free
via this link.
The Mitcham Ghost
The Ghosts of Beddington Park
The chapter concerning Carew Manor mentioned how delighted Queen Elizabeth I was by Sir Francis Carew's clever gift to her. Perhaps the Virgin Queen retained fond memories of Beddington for she is supposed to have continued visiting the place for centuries after her death. In fact, the whole area around Carew Manor and Beddington Park has acquired something of a reputation for the supernatural.
Above: Darnley Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I.
During the Tudor period, Beddington Park sprawled across an area now approximately bounded by Mitcham Common to the north, Croydon Road to the south, Beddington Lane to the east and London Road to the west. It was originally a deer-park attached to Carew Manor but, as the Carews' fortunes declined, much of the land to the north was converted into fields. Deer remained in the southern part of the park until 1859, when the estate was finally sold. The manor was converted into an orphanage and the park was purchased by a rich local rector, Canon Alexander Henry Bridges.
A few decades later, in his 1886 book, The History of Streatham, F Arnold recorded the tradition that Elizabeth I's ghost could be seen here. He wrote that, 'if we are to believe the gossip of the countryside, she [Elizabeth] still walks, at the proper conventional hour of midnight, by the stream [the River Wandle] which flows through Beddington Park'.
Above: Local tradition has it that Elizabeth's ghost walks beside the Wandle as it flows through Beddington Park. (James Clark, 2010)
Another Elizabethan Ghost
In 2001, Robert Hunt told me how, as a boy growing up in Beddington in the 1970s, he had heard that the park was haunted by another Elizabethan ghost, that of Sir Walter Raleigh.
Local resident Sue Chester was able to tell me more about these apparitions in December 2000. She explained how, throughout the mid-1960s and into the 1970s, 'The Grange and Beddington Park were our teenage haunts. Pardon the pun! As a group of young teenagers, we saw and heard quite a few strange things at night over there.'
The most haunted part of the area, according to Sue, is supposed to be the narrow alley that leads from London Road to Croydon Road, running along the side of Wallington County Grammar School. She told me:
'This is known as "Bunkers Alley". This is the point at which the ghosts of Sir Walter Raleigh and Queen Elizabeth were reported to have vanished. They would be seen riding from the gates of Carew Manor, him with his head under his arm, and she, headless on horseback, along the avenue of trees. Where the avenue of trees stops, and on the other side of "Bunkers Alley", they would vanish.
'There is a small park here, to the right of The Grange, where there is a natural spring. We used to drink from this as teenagers. It is here that they would have watered their horses and continued on their journey. This part of the alley is supposed to be the most haunted part. On a dark and misty night, if you go up "Bunkers Alley", you are supposed to see from your left [assuming that you enter the alley at London Road], the headless spectre on his horse with Queen Elizabeth following, jumping over the hedges of the alley, continuing their journey, onwards to Nonsuch Palace.'
Above: 'Bunker's Alley' photographed in 2000. Some might suggest the misty white 'orbs' in the picture are evidence of a paranormal presence here. More probably, they are evidence of the raindrops that hit my camera! (James Clark, 2000)
Sue went on to relate an uncanny experience she once had there herself:
'One night, at Christmas, about 30 years ago [c.1970], my Dad, me, uncles, boyfriend etc., went for a "spooky walk" up "Bunkers Alley". We only got about 30 yards [27 metres] into the alley and our dog stopped dead. She was no way going any further and lay on her belly with her hackles raised and growling. The whole part of the alley that we were in was so cold! But beyond that point and before it, were quite normal temperatures!
'We tried to pull her on her lead and kick her up the bum! She was not moving! We had to go home. When we got out of the alley, she was fine again! We were all unnerved, adults too and could not wait to get home.'
Above: A better photo of 'the most haunted part' of 'Bunker's Alley', looking east. (James Clark, 2010)
The Vanishing Couple
'Matthew Green' (pseudonym) spent his childhood in Beddington and in 2010 he told me how his parents had first learned that Raleigh's ghost was reputed to haunt this area.
It had happened in around 1950, a few years before Matthew was born. As Mr and Mrs Green were walking home near The Grange one evening they spotted two figures in the distance.
'My Mum was apparently a bit tiddly,' said Matthew, 'so she persuaded my Dad to divert off the path to avoid these people seeing her that way.'
Noticing that the two figures appeared to be wearing unusual clothes the Greens assumed that they must be returning from some kind of fancy-dress ball. Yet such extravagance was somewhat unlikely, realised Mrs Green, given that the country was still feeling the effects of post-war rationing.
She turned to mention this to her husband and when they glanced around again a moment later the two figures were nowhere to be seen. They had, in Mrs Green's words, 'simply vanished'.
'After this,' said Matthew, 'my Dad, who was originally from Kensington, began asking the locals if they had seen anything of this nature themselves and quite a few people reported they had seen similar things. That's when he was told that Sir Walter Raleigh's widow had stolen his head from the axe man's basket and honouring his wishes had brought it back to Beddington hidden in a bag. She then had it buried in the grounds of the old church as he had requested his body be buried there. Ever since his ghost has been seen walking in the area. Some stories persist of the 'walking around looking for his head' nature but I wouldn't put too much reliance upon them.'
(See the chapter about Beddington Parish Church for more about Raleigh's missing head.)
Mr Green's brief glimpse of (possibly) Raleigh's ghost obviously left an impression on him because years later, when the 11-year-old Matthew encountered the figure of a long-haired man carrying a sword in the alley that runs alongside Carew Manor, Mr Green concluded that his son must also have seen the spectral Sir Walter.
Bearing in mind the many eerie tales that emanate from Beddington Park it is easy to empathise with the sentiment Sue Chester expressed in December 2000: 'There were many times in the park that we had weird experiences and I would not like to go through there again late at night on my own!'
[Sources: personal communication with Sue Chester, 2000-2001; personal communication with Robert Hunt, 2001; Arnold, F. (1886) The History of Streatham, London, Elliot Stock; personal communication with 'Matthew Green' (pseudonym), April-July 2010.]