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Red Lion Square

Laid out in 1698, Red Lion Square is on the boundary between Holborn and Bloomsbury and was named after the Red Lion Inn that used to be on the site. Red Lion Square is reputedly haunted by the regicides Oliver Cromwell, John Bradshaw and Henry Ireton.

Oliver Cromwell, regicide and Lord Protector died (probably of septicaemia) at Whitehall on Friday 3 September 1658 was subsequently buried at Westminster Abbey.  He was succeeded as Lord Protector by his son Richard, who was forced to resign the position in May 1659 and in 1660 the exiled monarchy was invited to return and be restored.

King Charles II had Cromwell’s body exhumed on 26 January 1661 along those of Judge John Bradshaw (1602 – 31 October 1659) who was president of the Parliamentary commission that tried King Charles I and General Henry Ireton (1611 – 26 November 1651), Cromwell’s son-in-law. On 30 January 1661 they were beheaded after being hung on gallows all day, as a symbolic execution marking the date of King Charles I’s own death in 1649.

Their bodies were hung in chains at Tyburn before being discarded in a pit. Cromwells body may have been rescued by two of his daughters according to local legend and buried at St Nicholas’s Church, Chiswick.

Some sources suggest that the bodies of Oliver Cromwell and Henry Ireton were brought to the Red Lion Inn after being exhumed from Westminster Abbey and being tried for regicide. It was from the Inn that the bodies were taken to Tyburn and hung alongside Bradshaw. Christina Hole in Haunted England: A Survey of English Ghost Lore 1941 points out that Holborn does not lie between Westminster Abbey and Tyburn, hence she thought it unlikely that they would have been brought to the Red Lion Inn.

Other sources suggest that the bodies of Cromwell, Ireton and Bradshaw were discarded in a Pit in the location that is now Red Lion Square rather than the Pit at Tyburn.

The apparitions of the men are said to have been walking together having a conversation before fading away.

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