Mind the dungeon
In Wood Street we come across the creepiest place yet - The Wood Street Comptor or debtor's dungeon. All that's left now is a secret stairway leading down to the dungeons from the street, protected by iron railings. It's now owned by a licensing company called the Four Vintners, who often hold spookily themed candlelit parties in there. In October 1997, the 21 year old manageress was locking up after such a do, when after blowing out all the candles but one, a sinister voice behind her said, 'there's only thee and me down here now.' She fled in terror onto the street and ran all the way home. After taking three weeks off sick she returned to work, but was so traumatized she had to quit two months later.
The Curse of St Mary le Bow
We were all pleased to get away from the dungeon and into the relative brightness of Cheapside, where the magnificent church of St Mary le Bow stands (the one whose bells you have to be born within hearing distance of to call yourself a cockney). Richard cheerfully tells us about the series of tragedies that have struck the neighbourhood around the cursed church. In 1090 the roof blew off killing 30 people. In 1196 the church was nearly destroyed when the Archbishop of Canterbury, who owned the church tried to smoke out William Fitzobert who was hiding inside to prevent being arrested for preaching against high taxes. Then in 1271 the steeple fell off killing more people, and once it had been rebuilt Lawrence Duckett was murdered there, closely followed by the hanging of 17 men and the burning of one woman for his murder. It has been rebuilt several times since the Great Fire and the Blitz and the authorities are so sure the curse has been lifted that a health food restaurant has been opened in the crypt.
It is here on Cheapside that Richard informs us that the tour has come to an end. We all smile at each other nervously as he reassures us that we have more to fear from the living than we do from the dead. This is not the most comforting thought as I head off into the night away from the warmth of the group. As I trudge down the steps to Bank tube station I'm sure I can smell something funny…