‘Visited our chef every night!’ Chilling ‘Hammersmith ghost’ haunts famous London pub

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The Black Lion – formerly known as The Black Lyon – has sat on the north bank of the River Thames between Hammersmith and Chiswick in London for “well over” two centuries. It is home to a world-famous skittle alley and many flock there to watch the famous Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race each year. However, it is also shrouded in mystery, attracting tourists from across the globe thanks to its resident ghost. Adjacent to the pub is Black Lion Lane, where a spectre – ‘the Hammersmith ghost’ – is said to have lurked since 1803.

The apparition was believed by locals to be a man who had died by suicide with residents claiming they had been attacked by his ghost. 

The ghost is also said to have made appearances at St Paul’s Churchyard – now home to Hammersmith roundabout – almost one mile away. 

But the plaque adorning the pub tells an interesting story of a case of mistaken identity which resulted in a murder investigation

In 1804, patrols were being carried out in the area as locals feared for their fate if they were to bump into the Hammersmith ghost. 

Excise officer, Francis Smith, was on Black Lion Lane when he believed to see the ghost on January 3, 1804.

He then proceeded to fill his blunderbuss, akin to a shotgun, with ammunition and fired. 

Unfortunately, he mistakenly shot a bricklayer, Thomas Millwood, who had been dressed in white. 

His wife – speaking at the Old Bailey murder trial – told the court she had warned Mr Millbrook against dressing in white as he had been mistaken for the apparition once before. 

Smith was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death: however, he was later handed one year of hard labour instead after the ruling was revoked. 

The court case was complicated and later set a legal precedent in the UK, namely that someone could be held liable for their actions even if it was as a result of a mistaken belief. 

But this was not resolved until 180 years later at the Court of Appeal.

Following the trial, it later emerged it had been the local shoemaker, John Graham, who had been dressing in a white sheet and terrifying residents. 

It is not thought, however, that Mr Graham was ever punished for his antics. 

After he was killed, it is believed Mr Millwood’s body was brought to the pub after he was shot and an inquest was been carried out there, and it is now thought that his ghost haunts the pub.

A former chef who both worked and lived at the pub even claims to have seen the apparition every night. 

Fortunately, the managers have not had any recent sightings of the Hammersmith ghost.

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But speaking to Express.co.uk, Jolanta Mroczek – who manages the pub with her husband, Tom – said: “We have not heard about the ghost for a while now. 

“Previously, the chef that used to live in one of the rooms claimed that the ghost visited him each night.”

However, she told Hammersmith and Fulham council that a friend had also seen the ghost. 

In 2018, Ms Mroczek said: “She was standing in the hall and saw someone run past her but there was no one there.” 

The Black Lion pub can be found at 2 South Black Lion Lane, Hammersmith, London.

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