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White Hart, Crystal Palace
On 4th March 2009 the following article by Jennifer Heape entitled ’ Crystal Palace pub's strange basement 'haunted by girl', appeared in the Streatham Guardian
Deep beneath the White Hart pub in Crystal Palace rumours of secret tunnels, hauntings and witchcraft abound.
The subject of the speculation is the mysterious basement under the Church Street local.
Full-sized, decorative windows runs along one wall - yet there is no natural light. There are large guttering-like pipes, doors which only lock from one side and a small room which looks like an outside privy - but the room is sealed shut and situated one storey under the street.
The mystery continues as rooms lead to more rooms. The strange evidence piles up with eerie tunnels and shafts leading into the darkness and ancient, rusty chains hanging from the walls.
"No one can figure out what it is," said Mark McLaughan, manager of the White Hart.
"I always thought it was just where the staff used to live, but after seeing those chains it looks more like a torture chamber."
He added: "I've heard tales that there used to be a tunnel that ran to the Alma pub across the street and even to the Queen's Hotel half a mile away."
The bizarre basement has left local historian Melville Harrison stumped, despite his 30 year experience as an expert on Crystal Palace.
"I haven't a clue what it could be. I'm completely gobsmacked," he said.
"Why would anyone want to put something down there? They must have been doing something they didn't want anyone to see, something secretive.
“It makes me think it could be something like a secret society meeting place, or even witchcraft.”
Across the road at the Alma pub, where the alleged tunnel runs, locals Terry Mulholland and Ray Tucker add their theory: “Maybe the tunnel was used for smuggling. So when the cops came they could move whatever they were hiding to the other basement."
"It's haunted too," said Mr Tucker. "People say there's a ghost of a little girl down there."
According to Liz Kennedy, who helps her son Charlie run the Alma, one previous manager got so scared in the basement she refused to ever go down there again.
“I don't know what spooked here, but she was in a real state,” she explained. “You get a funny feeling down there with shivers and stuff.
“I don't mind it though. Sometimes I even leave out sweets or crisps for her and I always say hi when I go down there.”