The Langham

Langham Hilton ,1c Portland Place Regent Street London W1n 4JA 

When the Langham opened in 1865 it was London’s first Grand Hotel. From the 1950s it was owned by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) but it has recently been refurbished to its original Victorian splendour plus a few mod cons.

 The Langham is supposed to have up to five ghosts. Many of the sightings come from the time the hotel was occupied by the BBC. One of the BBC dormitory areas was frequented by a grey haired Victorian gent dressed in a cloak and cravat with blank staring eyes. He’s supposed to be a doctor who killed himself after murdering his bride on their honeymoon night in the hotel.

 The most famous of the Langham’s ghosts is that which haunts Room 333. In 1973 a BBC Radio Announcer was staying overnight because he had to present an early morning show. During the night he awoke suddenly to see a flourescent ball which slowly took on the shape of a man wearing Victorian evening wear. The announcer asked the ghost what it wanted and it began to float towards him, with its legs cut off some two feet below the ground, arms outstretched – eyes staring emptily. At this point the announcer got up and fled. When he came back a bit later, the ghost was still there, but less visible and less threatening. Other BBC staff reported seeing the apparition in the same room, though it only seems to appear during October.

 One of the rooms was used by the BBC as a reference library and they occasionally felt a cold presence and saw the shape of a footman dressed in blue livery from the 18th Century.

 Another BBC announcer claimed to have seen the form of a large Germanic looking man in vaguely military style dress. He stood at a window on the fourth floor and the theory was that he was the ghost of a German officer who threw himself out of the window just before the outbreak of the First World War.

 There was also a ghost which tipped people out of bed, though that has not been reported recently, and the exiled French emperor Napoleon III returns from his last resting place to haunt the Langham’s basement.

I picked up a story on the internet about the Langham from a man called James Burns. He told that his mother had worked for the BBC and a friend of hers had seen the ghost in Room 333. He had thrown his boot at it and the boot sailed right through. Once again there was the detail about the legs being cut off. I asked Diana Moxon the PR officer about this and she said that the explanation for that was that the floors were higher since Victorian times because central heating pipes had been installed and so the floorboards had to be raised.

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