The Ghosts of Senate House is one part of a creative research project led by Sarah Sparkes. It serves as an archive for uncanny, apocryphal stories emanating from Senate House. These stories formed part of "a Magical library for the 21st Century" an archive of writings, recordings, artwork, artefacts, and other contributions, which was first shown at the University of London as part of The Bloomsbury Festival October 2011.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Herbal magic in Torrington Square

The area directly north of Senate House was once known as the Long Fields. During the late 17th and 18th centuries, they were noted for "robbery, murder, and every species of depravity and wickedness of which the heart can think." [Dr. Edward F. Rimbault, Notes and Queries, no.14, February 2nd 185o].

The noted antiquarian John Aubrey was witness to a somewhat gentler pastime in the Long Fields when, at around noon on the eve of St. John (the Baptist's) Day, [i.e. Midsummer's Day, June 24th] he observed "about two or three and twenty young women, most of whom well habited on their knees very busy, as if they had been weeding [...] a young man told me they were looking for a coal under the root of a plantain to put under their head that night, and they should dream who would be their husbands. It was to be sought foir that day and hour." [Aubrey, Miscellanies, 1696]

Edward Walford, in volume 4 of his Old and New London (1878), remarked that the above custom was "a very ancient one, and not confined to London or even to England, and is probably connected with the fire and serpent worship, which came into Europe from the East."

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Shy ghost in the stack

"It was a February evening and I went to the 8th floor of the stack to look for a couple of books. The first book was in a room at the southern end of the building. As I knelt down to look for the book I felt a very light touch on my left shoulder as if my cardigan had been pulled slightly away from my skin. There was obviously nobody there but I felt a little odd and a little scared, so quickly found the book and left the room [...] I cannot explain what happened. I was not close to the other shelving and there was nothing behind me." NB: the Harry Price Library was for many years housed on the 8th floor.

Monday, 28 March 2011

'Ghost' Stories Wanted

 The Ghosts of Senate House – apocryphal stories and the spirit of place.

 “The Ghosts of Senate House” is part of a creative research project into cultural memory led by Sarah Sparkes.  She will be creating a public artwork based on the research for the University of London as part of the Bloomsbury Festival in October 2011.

Arts collective ‘Output Arts’ and ‘Magick Concrète’ (English Heretic and Mark Pilkington) will be composing sound works in response to the stories, the Price Collection and Senate House. Scott Wood is bringing his expert knowledge of London ghosts to the project and will take you on a tour of the 'haunted' sights and Chris Roberts is compiling a special edition of 'one eye grey'.
To help create a picture of the ' spirit of place' Sarah Sparkes and invited inter-disciplinary researchers will be collecting tales of the ghostly, the uncanny and the paranormal emanating from Senate House and the surrounding area.

 Have you seen, heard, sensed, read about or been told of anything uncanny, strange, occult, ghostly or just down-right weird that is connected to this location? If so, then we would love to hear from you!

We will acknowledge all contributors, and in some instances would be interested in arranging an interview with you to record your story. You may remain anonymous if you prefer.

Please send your stories to: