London is indefinitely a town of ghosts, and whether or not you are a believer, you cannot help but feel the presence of the past and those who inhabited it while walking around a town like this.
Today we visited Fleet Street, which is a street in London most properly know for it history in the publishing industry. Publishing started on Fleet Street around the 1500's and since then, it has been home to many world renowned writers such as Samuel Johnson, Charles Dickens, and Anne Scott-James.
Although these are probably the more accurate histories of Fleet Street, it is also famous for a story of a much more chilling gravity. Fleet Street is also know to be the home of one demon barber more commonly known as Sweeney Todd. The demon barber of Fleet Street is traditionally said to have lived and worked on Fleet Street. The story tells that the demon barber would lure unsuspecting customers into his shop by offering them a shave. While they were there, he would slit their throats and pull a lever on the side of the barber chair that would cause a trap door to the basement to open up and the victims would fall through. Once Todd had pocketed all of their goods, Mr. Todd's partner in crime, Mrs. Lovett would dispose of the bodies by baking their flesh into meat pies at her bakery shop and selling them to unsuspecting customers.
Although the actual existence of such a man is often disputed, I couldn't help but feel an eerie chill through my body as I walked down the sidewalk of Fleet Street knowing that such a man could have existed and that he walked the very street that I was standing on while he looked to prey on his next victims.
Today we also visited Saint Paul's Cathedral, which is another site in London where you cannot help but feel the past lives that have come and gone from the site. The thing that makes St Paul's Cathedral such a marker of the past goes back to traditional European burial practices. While most common people were buried in grave yards or unmarked graves, nobles and people of high social status were commonly buried inside or beneath churches and cathedrals.
In the crypt of St. Paul's Cathedral, where a cafe and gift shop now stand, there lie stone epitaphs in the floor in remembrance of two people who were buried there. At the base of the stone there is a carving reading: "The memory of the just shall be in everlasting remembrance."
Again, instilling in our minds that the dead are never gone. They are always there, lurking in spirit and in memory. (Crypt video coming soon)