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 Phantom Cyclist of Mitcham Common
(Update to account in Strange Mitcham, 2002)
I recorded the story of the Phantom Cyclist of Mitcham Common in Strange Mitcham (2002). In brief, a gentleman named Tony Dow had completed a night shift and was walking home across the Common in the early hours of the morning when he encountered the eerie apparition of a young boy riding a bicycle. The boy and the bicycle were both entirely white and made no sound at all as they approached and then passed him, the boy turning to stare at Mr Dow with a unnaturally fixed gaze.
Still staring back at Mr Dow, the unnerving apparition cycled steadily on, closer and closer to Seven Islands pond - and then out onto the surface of the water. Any lingering thoughts that the figure was simply a flesh-and-blood boy were dispelled when the apparition did not sink, but just continued cycling out across the surface of the water and on into the darkness beyond.
Above: Seven Islands pond on Mitcham Common. (James Clark, 2010)
See 'Strange Mitcham' (2002) for the story of the phantom cyclist seen here.
When I originally wrote this story for Strange Mitcham I stated that I had been unable to contact Mr Dow to obtain further information. Happily, Mr Dow recently provided the following additional details about his encounter, for which I am very grateful. The incident took place between around 1990 and 1992, while he was working as a computer operator for a firm based on the Willow Lane Industrial Estate. He used to cut across Mitcham Common every night on his way home - until that night. 'After that,' said Mr Dow, 'I walked down Cedars Avenue instead!'
Tragedy at Seven Islands
His encounter led Mr Dow to wonder whether the cyclist was the spirit of a young boy who had once drowned in the pond. During the research for Strange Mitcham, I tried to find out if any such incident had taken place but was unsuccessful. In 2005, however, I was contacted by MC who informed me that her mother's brother had drowned at Seven Islands in 1939. She wondered if perhaps this tragedy was connected with Mr Dow's sighting and I am indebted to her for providing information that enabled me to trace an account of this sad incident.
At around a quarter past two in the afternoon on Wednesday 7 June 1939, ten-year-old Leonard Lascelles of Carshalton went out to play, wearing a swimming costume. 'He had never been in the water before,' his mother was later reported as saying, 'and could not swim.'
Above: A tranquil view of Seven Islands pond. (James Clark, 2010)
One of Leonard's companions, eleven-year-old Charles Hudd afterwards told the Coroner that they and some other boys went to Seven Islands pond. They walked into the water up to the height of their shoulders and then Leonard indicated a tree on the island ahead of them, saying, 'Let us swim to that tree.'
'Just then he went under and started struggling,' stated Charles. 'I shouted and a big boy and a girl came in and the boy got hold of me and the girl went after Leonard.'
Mr Tortolana, the boatman, went out in a boat to try to find Leonard with a boat hook. When that failed, he went back to fetch Charles to point out exactly where the boys had been swimming. After approximately 20 minutes he managed to snare Leonard by the hand with his boat hook.
PC Morrison had been in a patrol car nearby and when told what had happened he he ran to the pond. When he arrived he applied artificial respiration until an ambulance arrived. Leonard was rushed to hospital but was pronounced dead.
A Dr Ruston later gave his opinion that death was due to drowning and the Coroner's verdict was 'accidental death'.
During the hearing, Mr J Marten, clerk of the Common Conservators, stated that this was the first time a child had drowned here: 'The pond has been used for bathing since 1899 and there has only been one occurrence of this kind previously, which was a case of illness in an adult.'
It may simply be coincidence that Mr Dow's speculation regarding a tragedy at Seven Islands proved to be accurate. More spiritually minded readers might be inclined to see a connection, however.
MC also told me that when she was a young girl she lived on the St Helier Estate 'right next door to St Helier Hospital. [...] During my stay in that house and on visits years after there was always a ghostly presence in the house, particularly upstairs and on the stairs of the house. There was a large photo of my uncle, whose name was Leonard William Lascelles and he was a very blonde blue-eyed boy, and in this photo his eyes would follow you all round the room. I think I was the only one who felt the presence in the house, it has haunted me for years.
'I also felt Lenny's spirit was never at rest, or was I just imagining it as a small child, I myself do not think so.'
'I have been haunted by his death all my life. Although I never actually knew him, I always felt a great sadness as I believed that his spirit was not laid to rest, as there was always a mystery about his death, about what happened at Seven Islands.'
[Sources: personal communication with Tony Dow, October 2007; personal communication with MC, May 2005; 'Seven Islands Pond Tragedy: First Child Victim in Forty Years', Mitcham News & Mercury, Friday 16 June 1939, p. 1; Clark, J, Strange Mitcham, Shadowtime Publishing, 2002.]
Added September 2013: 'The Ghostly Cyclist' (YouTube film by ghostlyrosie)