Covent Garden Underground Station was not always the bustling place it is today. For many years it remained a rather solitary little station, adrift between the more hectic stops of Leicester Square and Holborn. But deep within this echoing subway is said to linger a most troubled and brooding presence.
William Terris was an eminent actor-manager who established himself as one of the country’s most popular actors. His illustrious career was tragically cut short, at the age of forty nine, when he was murdered by a mentally unstable fellow actor named Richard Pearce. Terris is thought to be Covent Garden’s most ubiquitous spirit. Not only is he thought to haunt the Adelphi Theatre, but also the nearby Lyceum and, for some bizarre reason, the underground station.
As part of his daily routine, this skittish thespian would regularly frequent a bakery, which once stood on the site of the Covent Garden Underground Station. By all accounts, he would while away many an hour there, which could offer some credence as to why his spirit seems so reluctant to leave.
Any tube station, late at night, can seem a rather foreboding place with its groaning tunnels and echoing passages. Many engineers, working on the line, have spoken of a shadowy figure in one of the tunnels after the station has been cleared at night. Echoing footsteps, unexplained banging noises and even the sighs and gasps of a disembodied voice have been heard.
A former ticket collector spoke of several encounters with the station’s spectre. One night, on making his final check that the platforms were deserted, he suddenly became aware of a tall, distinguished-looking man walking along the westbound subway. The man then began climbing the emergency spiral stairs. This prompted the ticket collector to telephone the clerk upstairs in order to inform him that someone was on their way up. The ticket collector then took the lift, only to be met by a rather confused-looking clerk, as no one had emerged from the stairs. A few days later the spectre was to make yet another dramatic appearance.
While having a meal, around midnight, in the staffroom, the same ticket collector heard the door open. At first he paid little attention, thinking it was probably another member of staff coming in to take a break. However, as he turned around, he found himself face-to-face with the same tall, distinguished-looking man in a grey suit, high collar shirt and white gloves. Thinking he may have been a passenger who had lost his way, he asked the fellow what he wanted, but received no reply. The man merely stood staring impassively in at him before simply fading away.
The subway spectre seemed particularly active at this time, as his next appearance was but four days later. Station employees, in the staffroom, were suddenly alarmed to hear a loud scream. A young porter then burst in from the adjoining room, his eyes literally bulging from their sockets. He claimed to have just seen a strange-looking man in the corner of the adjoining room, but when he approached him a disturbing sensation overcame him. He claimed to have felt an oppressive weight bearing down on him before the man simply faded into nothingness.
A station foreman had also encountered this awesome presence. Furthermore, on this occasion, he had actually heard a disembodied voice murmuring a name, which sounded something like ‘Terry’. When later shown a picture of the distinguished thespian, William Terriss, he was convinced that he was the man he had seen.
Perhaps it is indeed the troubled spirit of Terriss, still searching for that long-gone bakery and drawn by the thought of a hot mince pie or muffin. Whatever, his reason, be warned! If visiting, this now fashionable area, do not go missing the last train. Finding yourself stranded alone in the murky depths of Covent Garden Underground Station could be a decidedly unnerving experience.