The Drury Lane Theatre, in the heart of London’s WestEnd, is the oldest theatre in London. So, it comes as little surprise to learn that the location is haunted. The mysterious “man in grey” has been seen dozens of times, by visitors and thespians.
Ghosts of the theatre:
Exclusive Interview: Matt Clark, a lighting engineer from Bedfordshire, has worked as ‘stage crew’ on two shows at ‘The Lane’: Miss Saigon and The Witches of Eastwick. During the ‘pre-set’ (setting the scenery for the nights show) Matt has twice witnessed the ‘Man in Grey’, and had this to say: “Many people have seen the ghost in the upper circle, standing quite still, and looking down upon the stage. Although I am interested in the supernatural, I didn’t take the stories too seriously, until.... I saw the Man in Grey for myself.
I’ve now seen him twice, so can honestly say there is something, or someone, wandering the darkened theatre before the audience arrives each evening.
Pressed further, Matt described the figures actions: "After staring at the stage, for some time, the figure disappeared through the wall, to the left. It’s common knowledge, to those who work here, that a doorway used to exist at that spot, which led to a stairway. The doorway has long since gone, but perhaps the theatres resident ghost doesn’t know that”.
When asked, Matt had other stories to tell regarding the famous theatre. A body was discovered, buried deep within the walls, when the building was renovated in 1840: “The wall formed part of the auditorium, and the exact location is often debated. Some believe it is he who haunts the circle, but it seems unlikely. The clothing, worn by the apparition, is closer to the fashions of the 1920’s to 30’s. Or, there could be two ghosts."
While researching this location, I learnt of the (possible) murder of Thomas Hallam. He was killed, supposedly, by Charles Macklin in 1735. They were both actors, and the act was committed while arguing about a wig. Ok, if you've stopped laughing, I'll go on. The unhappy event is thought to have occurred in the theatres 'green room', but apart from one mention online, I can find no further evidence of this. Interestingly, MostHaunted (camp ghost hunting TV show) also explored this same story, and their "psychic" had much to say on the matter. Whether this was genuine, or he read the same webpage as I did, is unclear. I personally think it's utter nonsense, but it's good fun to watch on chilly winter nights. Some, also believe, it is Hallam who haunts the upper circle. I put this to Matt, who sneered at the suggestion. He is aware of the theories, but is adamant that the 'ghosts' attire is in keeping with the last century. As an eye witness, his impressions are hard to dispute.
About the Theatre: Built four times on the same site. The first building, 1663-1672. It was destroyed by fire on 25th January 1672; The second building, 1674-1791. Re-built by Sir Christopher Wren and opening on 26th March 1674 in the presence of King Charles II. It was demolished in 1791 because it was too small and out of date; The third building, 1794-1809. Designed by Henry Holland. Opened on 12th March 1794. This building burned down for the second time on 24th February 1809; The fourth and present building, 1812-? Designed by Benjamin Wyatt. Opened on 10th October 1812 with a performance of "Hamlet".