Here Comes the Candle:

A Photographic Summoning of London Ghosts


Ruth Bayer & Caroline Wise

Ghosts are creatures of the threshold, whether actual, or in our imagination. Ghost stories are always popular. Sometimes ghosts are glimpsed ‘out of the corner of the eye’, in a movement, quick and furtive. They are fleeting, transitory, often associated with liminal places, such as the path between two areas, through a wood or across a wide-open heath. Maybe it is the crossroads, or the banks of a river, or the edge of a lake. Or a place of execution, of suicide or murder, the crossing places between life and death.

You may sense ghosts when taking a wrong turn into unfamiliar territory. It must have been terrifying to lose your way in such places in times past. It can be so today, and mind can play tricks when we are anxious.

Real or not, ghosts and their locations are rich fuel for the writer, artist, musician. We have bought together this collection of London ghosts in photographs with their accompanying stories. These are the visions and the voices we heard. The artist and photographer was inspired by the reports of London ghosts and has depicted them here as they appeared in her imagination.

We are not especially concerned here with investigating the authenticity of the sightings. The stories, repeated over time at specific places, are now embedded in the fabric of each place. An actual source for many of these ghost sightings, or a reliable known witness, is hard to track down. They seem to vanish like mist in the sunlight when one delves closer.

The stories presented here have excited our imaginations. We have tried, too, with some of those presented in this book, to imagine more of their story, by tuning in to them at their haunting grounds. In this way we have treated them as real phenomena and real souls with a story to tell, and who can be communicated with.

We hope that you will visit these places, tarry a while, offer them kindness, and see what they reveal to you. And remember, it is not the dead you have to fear in this world, but the living!

You may see or sense ghosts in an old house, or theatre, or farm, but reports show that ghosts manifest in surprisingly mundane places, too. The modern office building is just as likely as the gothic mansion or the house built on a place of tragedy. The concrete pavement as likely as a dark forest track. Ghosts are all around us, and when we see them, they invoke an atavistic, primal response, of goose-bumps and hairs ‘standing on end’, and fear, or even excitement and wonder.

125pp, 26 London ghosts to get to know. All copies signed.

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