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19 Dunraven Street, Mayfair

According to ‘And Still They Serve, A complete Guide to the Military Ghosts of Britain’ by Richard Mckenzie and ‘Frommer’s 24 Great Walks in London’, 19 Dunraven Street is reputedly haunted by numerous ghosts.

Amongst those ghosts is said to be Lillie Langtry (born 13 October 1853 – died 12 February 1929), the actress and lover of King Edward VII and apparently resident ghost at the Cadogan Hotel in Knightsbridge. Lillie Langtry lived at 17 Norfolk Street between 1877 and 1880, and 19 Dunraven Street now occupies the site of her old home.

Survey of London: volume 40: The Grosvenor Estate in Mayfair, Part 2 (1980), tells us that Dunraven Street ‘was laid out in the 1750's. Originally called Norfolk Street, it was sometimes known as New Norfolk Street in the nineteenth century and was renamed Dunraven Street by the London County Council in 1939 after the fourth Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl, a former resident of the street, who had been a member of the L.C.C. The principal developer here was Edmund Rush, mason, who was a major builder on the estate during the 1750's and 1760's

On the east side of the street the frontages were generally narrower, such evidence as exists suggesting that the houses were three windows wide and had three main storeys. Their inhabitants were more varied than on the west side, two of them in 1790 being occupied by physicians and two by tradesmen, while two others were used as public houses. In the 1820's a house of ill-fame here was causing the Estate some concern. This side of the street was also popular with officers of the army or navy, for in 1796 five of the eighteen occupants here were officers of the armed services, who continued to favour the houses here throughout the nineteenth century, Captain (later First Sea Lord and Admiral of the Fleet) John Fisher, for instance, living at No. 16 (on the site of the present No. 18 Dunraven Street) from 1887 to 1891. Mrs. Lillie Langtry lived at No. 17 (on the site of the present No. 19) from 1877 to 1880. James McNeill Whistler assisted in the decoration of the house for her and provided the drawing-room with a painted ceiling.

All of the houses on the east side were rebuilt between 1897 and 1916 except No. 1, which had been 'practically rebuilt' in 1883–4.

The comments about the reputed haunting in the above mentioned books were brief and therefore I can give many details, apart from a general generic description of the ghosts. Lille Langtry is said to share the building with one or more English Civil War Cavaliers, some people who were executed at by hanging, possibly at Tyburn and two headless ghosts. How this strange mix became associated with the house, or what the reported experiences are, I have no idea.

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