The Ghost of the Bank of England
Our first stop was the imposing facade of the Bank of England on Threadneedle Street. There Richard paused to tell us the story of Sarah Whitehead, whose brother Philip, a bank employee, was executed for forgery in 1812. Refusing to accept both his guilt and his death, Sarah would call daily at the bank, as she had during his lifetime, asking if anyone knew the whereabouts of her brother. At first the staff humoured her, telling her that he had not been about much today, but that they'd tell him she popped by. Her black dress earned her the nickname, 'The Bank Nun'. Eventually the inevitable happened and she came across someone who didn't realise who she was but knew full well that Philip had been executed years before. When he broke the news to her, she couldn't handle it, and from that day refused to wash, although she still continued to turn up at the bank every day. By 1818 the governers of the bank grew tired of Sarah and offered her £50 (the equivalent of £42,000 today) if she agreed never to return to the bank. Well, she obviously wasn't mad enough to turn down a deal like that, but she managed to find a way to break the agreement and keep the money. Sure enough, she never returned to the bank in her lifetime, but who could stop her returning after her death? According to Richard more than one late night reveler wandering along Threadneedle Street has come across an old lady in black, mournfully asking, 'have you seen my brother?'
We were all getting into it now and oohed and aahed at Richard's dramatic storytelling as he led us back past one of the entrances to Bank station. This is also rumoured to be a haunted site, and maintenance workers working on the stretch of track between Liverpool Street and Bank have often reported a foul stench along with an overwhelming feeling of grief. Richard's convinced that it's because the line was laid right through the site of a plague pit. This could also explain why one of the most modern stretches of underground inexplicably breaks down an average of 11 times a day.