Explore the author's map to discover strange stories from Mitcham and the surrounding areas.
Part 1 - Mitcham:
The Phantom Cyclist
of Mitcham Common
(update to Strange Mitcham)
A Dark Figure on Mitcham Common
Tales from the
'Calico Jack': The
Playful Ghost of
Lacks the Drapers
The Faces on the Walls:
The Haunted Cottages
in Tramway Path
The 'Haunting' of
Soldier of Graham
The Legend of
Remember the Grotto
The Phantom of
An Apparition at
Woof & Sabine
Haunted Rooms at
The Phantom Cat
Mitcham's (not so)
The Kingston Zodiac
The 'Ghost Tree'
Medicinal Plants and
A Magical Tree
The Wrath of God
A Ghostly Experience
in Morden Road
Mitcham Clock Tower:
When Time Ran
The Rosier Family
The 'Ball of Fire'
UFO over Mitcham
UFO over Tooting
Bec Common, 1990
Part 2 - South of
The Ghosts of
Church & Churchyard
The Figure in the
A Spectral Cavalier
'Haunted Mitcham' Facebook group:
Facebook group set up
by Geoff Mynn in
Thanks to the
and Merton Council
there are some very
maps of Mitcham
Download for free
via this link.
The Mitcham Ghost
The Figure in the Alley
In the shadow of the old red brick wall beside the grounds of Carew Manor,
a long alley runs from east to west linking the two sections of Church Lane. The churchyard
at the western end has long been held to be haunted by the spirit of Sir Walter Raleigh, and it seems that the alley too may play host to the Elizabethan adventurer's apparition.
Above: St Mary the Virgin church. (James Clark, 2010)
'Matthew Green' (pseudonym) was born in 1952 and when he was a boy he lived in one of the white painted houses in the centre of Beddington Lane.
'Beddington was a different place when I grew up there,' he reminisced in 2010. 'Living in ... the middle of Beddington Lane I used to jump over our back
fence and watch as the wheat fields blew like waves upon the sea and down the road was a farmyard.'
Matthew's brushes with the uncanny began in around 1963, when he was 11 years old. He had an appointment to visit a local dentist and, given that the
brother of a friend of his had died in another dentist's chair not so long before, Matthew would have had every right to feel anxious.
Despite this, he wasn't at all nervous. 'It never even dawned on me that I could be in danger,' he said. After the dentist examined him, Matthew was told
that one of his teeth would have to be pulled out. He was duly given a general anaesthetic, which at that time meant being put under by gas.
'I can still remember the smell,' recalled Matthew, 'although how much was the smell of the gas and how much was the smell of the old rubber mask they
used I'm not sure.'
The extraction itself went smoothly but when the dentist tried to bring Matthew back to consciousness afterwards he found himself unable to revive the boy.
'My heart apparently completely stopped for several minutes,' said Matthew, 'and I technically "died" leading to a mass panic at the surgery. As I drifted off
I found myself falling down a dark tunnel. A description I've since heard told by people in hospital, etc. who have also experienced near death experiences.
This is where it became weird though, as the next thing I knew was Sir Walter Raleigh began calling out my name and, reaching down with his hand, began pulling me
slowly upwards again.
'I've no idea why [I thought that the person] was Sir Walter but somehow I knew it was him. My education was pretty terrible, not so much because I was "thick"
but because due to repeated illness and other problems I found myself in the bottom class and once there education simply wasn't even offered. I had only vaguely
even heard of Sir Walter Raleigh at the time, apart from a bit in a Beano comic or similar that depicted him laying down his cloak for Queen Elizabeth the First.
'The next thing I knew was I came to with a dental surgeon frantically smacking me around the face and a room full of people wiping sweat from their brow and
breathing a sigh of relief! After an hour or so I recovered and just cycled home again and thought nothing more of it.'
The 'long-haired man'
About two weeks later, Matthew visited a friend's house after school and as he cycled home later his route took him down the alley that runs alongside Carew Manor.
'There is an old red brick wall there,' he stated. 'Towards the end of the alleyway the council had installed some concrete bollards to prevent kids like me (it
obviously didn't work!) cycling down the alley, so I had to slow down to negotiate my way around them.'
As he did so, he glimpsed what he described as 'a long-haired man just sitting there holding a rapier-type sword.'
The figure was sitting down around where the original wall has collapsed and been replaced by a metal fence. (James Clark, 2010)
The eastern end of the alley, looking west towards where the figure was seen. (James Clark, 2010)
'To be honest,' he admitted, 'I can tell you more about the sword than the man himself, as it caught my attention. One the teachers at my school (now gone) at
Elmwood found a sword when it fell out of one of the red brick walls leading to a swimming baths the school used to use. (Think it used to be [an] old Orangery originally.)
So I just thought this long-haired man had been similarly lucky as swords were reportedly left in secret hiding places around there for people fleeing either the church
or the Manor. The sword itself was thin bladed and had a hand protector with another kind of bar that had round balls on the ends. I only had a chance to glance at the man
or I would have crashed my bike but he appeared to be smiling and was I guess a little dirty looking by nowadays standards. At the time I thought he was just a tramp but
when I arrived home and excitedly told my dad of this lucky man who had found an old sword he just smiled at me and immediately said, "Don't be silly! You've just seen the
ghost of Sir Walter Raleigh!"'
It turned out that Matthew was not the first member of his family to have seen something unusual in Beddington. His parents had had a strange experience of their own some
years earlier, he discovered, after which his father had learned from local residents that the area was reputedly haunted by the ghost of Sir Walter Raleigh.
(See The Ghosts of Beddington Park for more about Raleigh's ghost.)
His father's claim that the figure must have been Raleigh came as a shock to the young boy, who immediately remembered that this 'was the same person I'd dreamt had saved
me at the dentist'!
'Then suddenly the footsteps stopped...'
As Matthew grew older and spent more time going out to visit friends, his journeys home would increasingly take him through the alley. And this is where he found himself
alone one evening about five years after his encounter with the long-haired man.
As he walked down the alley, he became aware of the sound of footsteps behind him, approaching quickly:
'The footsteps continued getting closer and closer until when I could hear they were right behind me I moved over to allow the person to pass by. Then suddenly the footsteps
stopped altogether. When I turned around no one was even there. I looked all around as to if there was any way someone could hide anywhere but the alley is opposite a large
area of grass so I couldn't work it out. I walked back again and found a door in the old red brick wall but the door was locked and I would have heard if anyone had rattled
keys in such an old large keyhole. I then wondered if someone could have climbed over the wall but it must [have been] at least eight feet high and because the person had
been so close behind me I considered I would have heard someone jumping up and clambering over a wall so high. That's even if he could do it in the first place. So that was
strange to say the least.'
(The door has apparently been bricked up since.)
Nor was this the last incident. On another occasion, said Matthew, 'I was walking down this alley late one evening when what I can only describe as a mad dog ran over and
began threatening me. It was snarling and gritting its teeth and I just stood still at first. Then I began slowly making my way along the alley but frequently had to stop
again as the dog just went for me. When I finally reached the end of this alley the dog suddenly went for me again and I leapt back expecting it to bite me. Instead though,
it had suddenly become like a different dog altogether. It wagged its tail and even allowed me to pet it.'
'The feeling I was being watched...'
Encountering this dog understandably unnerved Matthew and for a short while afterwards he avoided walking down the alley. Before long, however, he had reverted to his old route.
Despite everything, he said, 'I've never felt in danger or scared there.'
On the contrary, Matthew occasionally felt a curious sense of peace while in the alley and can recall one particular Christmas Eve in around 1975 when he ended up walking
home alone through the alley at around 11 o'clock at night.
As he walked past the old church into the alley, he said, 'it was like I caught a glimpse of something in the corner of my eye ... Something just made me stop there for a
while and I felt ... it's hard to explain really but a kind of empathy I guess [is how] I'd describe it. [...] I remember looking at the church door that was wide open with
light from inside shining out of it that night but it was the feeling I was being watched that originally stopped me in my tracks [...] I can still remember the odd feeling
there but [it wasn't] in the least scary. [...]
The western end of the alley, looking east away from St Mary's church. (James Clark, 2010)
'These events still puzzle me,' said Matthew, adding: 'I'm not sure if I believe in ghosts. All I can say is that things not easily explained seem to have happened to me
there, but people born in Beddington seem to see or hear these things more naturally without even looking for them, it seems to me, and they appear perfectly normal to them
as if there is a connection somehow.'
After he contacted me in 2010, Matthew decided to revisit Beddington, parked his car outside St Mary's church and took a walk along the alley for the first time in many years.
'It's all looking a bit tatty there now,' he reported. 'The footpath itself where I saw the long-haired man with the sword has been widened ... in a rather curious way.
The alley itself used to be lower than the grass and instead of digging down [the workers] have simply added another layer of tarmac on top of the old surface and then extended
the path to include a cycle path. This has had the effect of raising the path level so it buries around 18 inches of the old wall, so you can almost see over it now. Towards
the end the old concrete pillars are gone and new slimmer ones have been put in but I reckon they're further back than the old ones. ... [The] old wall has collapsed at the end
and it was there somewhere, where there was a slight indent in the wall, where I saw the guy with the sword sitting down. [...]'
'Anyway, it was an interesting excursion. Sadly I never saw Sir Walter this time though. Maybe he only comes out at night?'
[Note: The stories Matthew's father was told encouraged him to identify the figure his son saw as the ghost of Sir Walter Raleigh. Perhaps, though, there is a connection with
another ghost story from Mallinson Road, just a few minutes' walk away, where an apparition was identified
not as Raleigh (who was executed in 1618) but as a Cavalier from the time of the English Civil Wars (1642–1651).]
[Source: personal communication with ‘Matthew Green’ (pseudonym), April-July 2010.]