(Shadowtime Home)


Explore the author's map to discover strange stories from Mitcham and the surrounding areas.



Front Cover


Part 1 - Mitcham:

The Phantom Cyclist
of Mitcham Common
(update to Strange Mitcham)

A Dark Figure on Mitcham Common

Tales from the
Vestry Hall

'Calico Jack': The
Playful Ghost of
Lacks the Drapers

The Faces on the Walls:
Hancock's Cottages

The Haunted Cottages
in Tramway Path

The 'Haunting' of
Hall Place

The Spectral
Soldier of Graham

The Legend of
Mitcham Fair

Remember the Grotto

The Phantom of
the 'Folly'

An Apparition at
Woof & Sabine

Haunted Rooms at
Fry Metals

The Phantom Cat

Mitcham's (not so)
Haunted Mansion

The Kingston Zodiac

The 'Ghost Tree'

Ghostly Gardeners,
Medicinal Plants and
A Magical Tree

The 'Thing'

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
Common, 2004

UFO over Tooting
  Bec Common, 1990

Part 2 - South of
Mitcham Common:

Carew Manor

The Ghosts of
Beddington Park

Beddington Parish
Church & Churchyard

The Figure in the

Under Beddington

A Spectral Cavalier

Other Information:

Author's website

'Haunted Mitcham' Facebook group:

Facebook group set up
by Geoff Mynn in
January 2015

Heritage maps

Thanks to the
Mitcham Society
and Merton Council
there are some very
nice heritage
maps of Mitcham

Download for free
via this link.

The Mitcham Ghost

Strange Mitcham
(2002): Errata


'Calico Jack': The Playful Ghost of Lacks the Drapers

Lacks the Drapers stood at Nos. 2-4, High Street (London Road), next to the King's Arms and opposite the old Buck's Head public houses. The shop was started by Joseph Lack in 1838 in the already ancient building at No. 4, High Street and was later expanded into the building next door. The business continued in Mitcham for many years until it finally closed in the 1920s.

At the end of December 2008, Andrew Wyatt - a descendant of the Lack family - contacted me. He is interested in his family's history and during his researches has learned that Lacks the Drapers was believed to have a resident spirit.

'The shop was supposed to have a ghost, but a friendly one,' said Andrew. 'More playful: i.e. ringing the shop bell and going across the creaking floor boards.'

Above: Lacks the Drapers stood just to the right of the King's Arms public house.
(James Clark, 2009)

Andrew's research indicates that his ancestors' associations with the linen industry stretch far back into history. '[They] were certainly involved with fabric and were linen drapers by at least the 1830s,' he told me, and he has traced his direct lineage back to Simon Lack, who married Sarah Holiday in Mitcham in 1762. 'The family appears to work in the calico printing mills of Mitcham,' said Andrew. 'They lived in the 1790s in a house with the Asprey family. Asprey went on to line small boxes with beautifully printed calico. This led on to quality gifts as a business and the eventual large world famous store, and the family still run it today.'

It was Simon Lack's grandson, Joseph (born in 1806), who opened the draper's shop in Mitcham: 'He started the well known Mitcham drapers and fancy goods store, in a very old building in 1838,' Andrew told me. 'The building itself was a good example of early Mitcham jettied, narrow street frontage and longer at the rear. It may have been of late 15th or 16th century origin and had been a shop for many generations when the Lacks moved in.'

Recently, Andrew discovered that Joseph Lack lived for a time at Hancock's Cottages, Commonside East in Mitcham but by 1841 he had moved into the drapers shop at No. 4, High Street.

Andrew has learned from relatives that 'the shop had had a friendly ghost, it had always been there and they had nicknamed it something like "Calico Jack"! It would make the shop bell ring, and in the morning when old Mrs Lack (Mary Lack) would come down she would find the children's bonnets mixed with the Madras muslins, fancy ribbon reels unfurled, account books mixed with the order books. The assistants would have to sort everything before opening. So when Joseph Lack had put his name above the shop door he had found out very soon they had inherited a playful ghost.'

Following Joseph's death, running of the shop passed to his wife Elizabeth, and later to their two youngest children: 'Elizabeth (who never married) and her brother George, who loved local theatre and dressing up. The shop had servants and one or two shop assistants always living on-site. One of these was Hannah Hollingdale, a teenage draper's assistant who ended up marrying George Lack.'

George Lack died in 1878, after which Hannah ran the shop herself and the business flourished in her capable hands. In later years she was helped by her son, Charles, and it was during this period that Lacks the Drapers expanded into the next-door premises. The business was so successful that further shops were opened, including one in Walthamstow, east London in 1898 and another in Thornton Heath in 1906.

Above: The Lack Brothers store in Thornton Heath, photographed in 1926.
(Copyright: Andrew Wyatt.)

The story of a ghost haunting the Mitcham shop seems to have still been known during the time that Hannah and her son were running the business. Andrew remembers reading about the ghost in a letter written by a relative who was apprenticed to the family business and who used to call in on Hannah and Charles.

Above: The elderly Hannah Lack (centre, seated) and her family at The Culvers, Carshalton, c.1922. Hannah's son-in-law, George Mizen and his wife Ruth stand behind her.
(Copyright: Andrew Wyatt.)

Hannah Lack retired during the First World War after working in the shop for fifty years and Charles took over the business from her. She passed away in 1926, aged 82, at the Carshalton residence of Mr and Mrs George Mizen, her son-in-law and daughter. Sadly, the Mitcham drapery shop closed a few months before her death and the premises were demolished a couple of years later, much to the disappointment of Mitcham's older residents.

CAN YOU HELP? Andrew would like to hear from anyone who remembers or perhaps has photos of Lacks the Drapers, either the Mitcham shop or one of the others. He is also keen to trace a portrait painting of Julia Lack, which was left to the family in her father Joseph's will. You can send send Andrew an email via this website.

[Source: personal communication with Andrew Wyatt, December 2008 - January 2009; November 2009.]

© James Clark. All rights reserved. Should you wish to refer to material presented here you are most welcome to quote a short excerpt (of no more than one or two paragraphs) provided you give full attribution and supply a link back to this website. Use of longer excerpts will require the author's prior written permission - by all means feel free to ask! But please DO NOT steal my work by copying great chunks and posting them in their entirety without permission. Thank you.

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