Haunted Wandsworth by James Clark
Ghosts and legends of the London Borough of Wandsworth (covers Balham, Battersea, Putney, Tooting and Wandsworth)
96 pp, illustrated
Published by The History Press, 2006
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"A very interesting and detailed book. I found the writing informative, particularly the 'history' side of each story and, having had personal
(albeit marginal) experience of one of the stories, I found it to be accurate and without the usual lurid histrionics beloved by some authors.
There is also a touch of humour thrown in which makes it even more enjoyable.
"In short, a very enjoyable book which I would recommend to anyone interested in this fascinating subject."
(Reviewed by 'Hairy Dan': see Haunted Wandsworth at Amazon.)
"Wandsworth - the name itself doesn't conjure up traditionally ghostly images and it's not a place one would
readily associate with the paranormal. However, after reading the book, you realise there is a great deal
more to Wandsworth and not only in the paranormal sense, than many of us realise whilst passing through it
on the A3 driving towards central London. In a jam-packed 96 pages, this book covers more than just
Wandsworth, it also includes spooky tales from the areas of Battersea, Balham, Putney and Tooting.
"Having read and reviewed several of the 'Haunted' series by Tempus, I was expecting more of the same - a
book set out into definable chapters with different short stories from the same locality in each. What
greets you in the first chapter is a detailed historical account of the death of a barrister. Mr Charles
Bravo either committed suicide or was murdered in 1876, although no one is quite sure why, how, or by whom.
This is a tale the author readily proclaims could have come straight from the pages of a classic Agatha
Christie novel. For a while, you forget you are reading a book on ghost stories and are embroiled in the
19th century goings on at the Priory in Balham. All the ghost sightings mentioned in chapter one are
related somehow to this fascinating, if somewhat surreal story and there are some interesting witness
accounts given from the 1980s.
"The book also contains some high profile poltergeist cases as investigated by the Ghost Club's finest.
In the 1920s, the Eland Road Poltergeist was looked into by Harry Price and in the 1950s, a few streets
away, similar activity occurred at 63 Wycliffe Road and was investigated by Andrew Green. The Wycliffe Road
Poltergeist case is mentioned in many of Andrew's books and is still looked upon as one of the most
fascinating poltergeist cases of its time. Many will be familiar with the letter that was sent through
the post to Andrew Green, claiming to have been written by the poltergeist.
"Also on offer, are several sightings of ghostly figures at the famous Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, a blood-splattered
man at [New Covent Garden Market] and of highwaymen on Putney Heath. The house featured in Elliott O'Donnell's
famous book 'The Haunted Staircase', gets more than a passing mention. Another location that warrants a
significant amount of historic detail is that of the Royal Victoria Patriotic Building, which has had
several uses over the years: a girls orphanage, a hospital and a home for MI5's espionage unit in World War II.
A good recipe indeed for some interesting ghostly tales. It now houses a mixture of luxury flats, workshops,
a restaurant, a bar and a drama school and witness accounts have been obtained from as recently as the
"This offering in the Tempus 'Haunted' range came as a pleasant surprise to me. There is a good mixture of
long and short stories, some local myths are dispelled and there is a varied selection of phenomena reported.
I enjoyed the more detailed historical accounts given to some of the locations, as it did not detract
attention in any way from the ghost stories and it gave a greater understanding as to why ghosts have been
seen and linked with particular people throughout history. This, teamed with Clark's down to earth and
readable style of writing, gives you a pleasurable journey through the haunted streets of Wandsworth."
(Reviewed by Sarah Darnell for The Ghost Club, Newsletter, Summer 2007)
"Every town and city has its so-called 'haunted houses'. Usually associated with Gothic
cathedrals, creaky old mansions or spooky graveyards, the truth is that any building can be haunted.
In 'Haunted Wandsworth', James Clark takes us on a spine-chilling trip through that London borough.
If you live there, it might open your eyes to the amazing history that surrounds you. If you don't live
in Wandsworth, it is still a fascinating book, perfect for curling up in front of a warm fire on a cold
night. James recounts, using public records, newspaper reports and other sources, those tales of
the bizarre that surface from time to time, from the murder of Charles Bravo, to the Battersea Poltergeist
to the amazing stories of Spring-Heeled Jack. 'Haunted Wandsworth' is an excellent, albeit brief,
excursion into the paranormal and comes highly recommended."
(Reviewed by Steve Johnson for
UFOData Magazine, News Round-Up, Feb 2007)
"Well-written and generously illustrated with black and white photographs (many taken by the author) this
book should be of interest to students of the paranormal in general and to those living in the South London
area in particular."
(Reviewed by Ann Hopkins for TEMS [the
Travel and Earth Mysteries Society], eTEMSNews issue 11, Spring 2008)
From back cover:
"From heart-stopping accounts of apparitions, manifestations and related
supernatural phenomena to first-hand encounters with French poltergeists and prison spectres, this
collection of stories contains both well-known and hitherto unpublished tales of the ghosts, mysteries
and legends of Wandsworth. Drawing on historical, literary and contemporary sources, this chilling
selection includes the infamous Victorian murder mystery of Charles Bravo, poisoned one April night and
still haunting the room in which he died, and the 'Poltergeist Girl of Battersea', who was haunted by a
spirit which would follow her everywhere, even onto the bus! From the spectral son of Marie Antoinette to
a haunting at the Battersea Dogs and Cats home, this scary selection of ghostly goings-on is bound to
captivate anyone interested in the supernatural history of the area."
The Curious Case of Charles Bravo
The Ghost in the Garden
Strange Happenings at The Bedford
Battersea's 'Poltergeist Girl'
The 'Mystery House' of Eland Road
The Haunting of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home
Fruit and Veg ... and a Ghost
A Putney Poltergeist
The Church that Giants Built
The White Lady of Ranelagh
Putney's Haunted Heath
The Highwayman Who Never Existed
The Spectral Horse of Colebrook Lodge
Thomas Hardy: The Return of the Novelist?
The Phantom Smacker of Marius Road
'It Was Like a Horror Movie ...'
The Tunnel, the Ghost and the Resurrection Men
Spooks At The Royal Victoria Patriotic Building
The Haunted Staircase
Another Haunted House Near Wandsworth Common?
The Grey Lady of Wandsworth Prison
ACROSS WANDSWORTH BOROUGH:
The Kingston Zodiac
Spring-heeled Jack: The Leaping Terror
The map below shows the area of London encompassed by Wandsworth borough:
Illustration credit: Anthony Wallis. Click here to visit his website.