Episode 28: The Ghost of Cock Lane

Special

Have you heard of The Ghost of Cock Lane?

Join London Tour Guide, Hazel Baker as she share this rather unusual Georgian ghost story in London History Podcast's Halloween Special Episode.




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What we discussed

Hazel Baker: Welcome to our London History Podcast, where we share our love of London, its people, places, and history in 20-minute espresso shot episodes served with a dash of personality. I am Hazel Baker, London Tour Guide and CEO of London Guided Walks, providing you with private tours, treasure hunts, guided walks, and live London quizzes for you to enjoy.

I like to celebrate the change of the season when the autumn air blows with a slight chill and the leaves turn a wonderful shade of burnt orange. I like to snuggle up with a mug of my homemade vanilla chai and a book or two. And this time it was Charles Dickens' A Tale Of Two Cities. And as I read through the preface, well, doesn't everybody? I was reminded of The Ghost of Cock Lane. And does Halloween approaches, I thought I would share this with you. It's a rather unusual Georgian ghost story.

Charles Churchill ridiculed them in his work, the ghost.

""Through the dull deep surrounding gloom,
In close array, t'wards Fanny's tomb
Adventured forth; Caution before,
With heedful step, a lanthorn bore,
Pointing at graves; and in the rear,
Trembling and talking loud, went Fear.
* * * * *
At length they reach the place of death.
A vault it was, long time apply'd
To hold the last remains of pride.
* * * * *
Thrice each the pond'rous key apply'd,
And thrice to turn it vainly try'd,
'Till, taught by Prudence to unite,
And straining with collected might,
The stubborn wards resist no more,
But open flies the growling door.
Three paces back they fell, amazed,
Like statues stood, like madmen gazed.
* * * * *
How would the wicked ones rejoice,
And infidels exalt their voice,
If M—e and Plausible were found,
By shadows aw'd, to quit their ground?
How would fools laugh should it appear
Pomposo was the slave of fear?
* * * * *
Silent all three went in; about
All three turn'd silent, and came out."

Even William Hogarth includes a pilloried ghost of Fanny next to the radical politician, John Wilkes, in his The Times, Plate 2. Sadly the houses and Cock Lane were demolished in 1979. And they will rebuild hinting at the Georgian style that they once had. This curious story of greed and envy has been consigned to the pages of London history; Scratching Fanny of Cock Lane.

If you've liked this story, then you may enjoy some of the walks that we offer, including Ghosts and Gallows of Fleet Street, Heretics and Horrors, and also Bleeding Hearts and Body Parts. Make sure to have your wits about you....


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