It is Halloween this weekend and from my book “Secret Haunted London” this is perhaps the most difficult sighting to explain… I dare you to read on…
The Langham Hotel is an imposing building at 1 Portland Place opposite BBC Broadcasting House off Regent Street just north of Oxford Circus. It was designed by John Giles and completed in 1865. At its completion it was heralded as the most modern hotel in London and had many innovations fitted such as modern bathrooms and the first hydraulic lift.
Room 333 should be avoided
Many famous people have frequented the hotel over the years. These included Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, Napoleon III, Noel Coward, Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, Haile Selassie, Don Bradman and in later years, was said to be a favourite of Princess Diana. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle also set parts of two of his Sherlock Holmes’ novels at the Langham. So it has a large list of notable names that have stayed there. But it also has a number of ghosts who seem to like it there too. In fact it is said to be the most haunted hotel in London.
Perhaps the most famous ghost story happened to a well-known BBC announcer of the time – James Alexander Gordon. He became famous as the voice reading out the football scores every Saturday afternoon. After the Second World War, the BBC used a number of floors to accommodate some of its staff overnight. One evening in 1973, Gordon was given Room 333 to spend the night in. This has become known as the most haunted room in the hotel. But on this occasion Gordon relates that he awoke in the night and saw a fluorescent ball of light across the room.
As he watched, it began to take a human form. It appeared to be a man in a splendid Victorian evening dress suit but there was something even more unnerving about the apparition – it was hovering about two feet above the floor because its lower legs were missing.
Gordon did try to communicate with it by asking who he was. However, when it began to move towards him with its arms outstretched, he noticed that the eye sockets were empty. That was enough for him and he made a quick getaway.
It is said that one of his BBC colleagues accompanied him back to the room and upon entering they both witnessed the apparition – only by now it had begun to fade and as they watched, it disappeared. As the story went around, other members of the BBC said that they had also witnessed the same ghost – they had all been staying in Room 333 and they all reported that the month was October.
The tales of unusual happenings have not stopped. Three members of the England Cricket Team have in recent years reported such strange events as taps turning themselves on and off by themselves and another refused to stay in his room on the third floor. So if you ever stay there, ask for Room 333 – or perhaps not.