Bromley's ghostly happenings investigated ahead of Hallowe'en
PUBLISHED: 11:52 26 October 2012
"Some people believe when you die you go to a place where you feel happy and safe. For some kids during the Second World War that was the caves."
The eerie words of Chislehurst Caves’ ghost guide Jason Desporte are what he offers by way of explanation for some of the haunting sounds he has heard in the 20 miles of tunnels.
The labyrinth has a long history of spooky encounters, from bizarre noises to the bizarre tale of The Challenge in 1985.
Two men, David Duker and Chris Perry, were challenged to stay in the caves overnight for the sake of a £5 reward. In the darkness, the sudden screams of Chris echoed before he was taken to Queen Mary’s Hospital.
“He severely broke and dislocated his shoulder”, said Jason. “It’s just one of those things, he doesn’t remember anything about it.
“You can’t put any explanation on it, they all get shot down. He was just in his sleeping bag and it’s not like he was a small guy, he was 6ft, 4ins and 17 stone.”
Other stories have emerged over centuries from the caves, including that of the White Woman who is said to have been murdered by her husband and now lurks around the haunted chamber.
Her bones were discovered during the early 1940s and her appearances have been reported by various visitors.
Jason added: “People believe it’s her and some believe she is a warning for something else.
“She’s a tragic case but there are lots of stories down there – one story is about a black wolf with glowing red eyes, and there’s the dead soldiers and miners who haunt the tunnels.”
Though he has never seen any otherworldly figures, Jason claims to have heard the sounds of young children in the caves.
“I have heard the giggles of little kids and heard the noises of them just generally playing. There are cases of children dying in the caves when they were used as shelters in the war – so maybe it’s them.”
Elsewhere in the borough, the ghosts of more notable characters including Dick Turpin have been spotted at The Chequers Inn in Southborough Lane, Bickley.
He is said to have been spotted behind a table at the pub where he would drink but he also made quick escapes through the cellars.
French policemen, a woman in stilettos and a poltergeist have also reportedly been spotted in the pub – the latter pinning visitors against walls and to the floor.
With a rich wartime history it was almost inevitable that the spirits of dead pilots would feature around Biggin Hill Airport.
The sounds of Spitfires have been reported by fire and rescue teams, though more surprising is the appearance of pilots walking past nearby shops – some even stopping to ask for directions before disappearing.
It would seem Bromley is an attractive destination for those in the afterlife, though the appearance of spirits is summed up nicely by Jason.
“I’m always very honest with my tour groups – not everyone will see or hear something”, he says. “Some people might not believe what we tell them but there are plenty of stories that just can’t be explained. They’re too strange.”