Haunted House: Ghost Stories from Abbey Road

Haunted House: Ghost Stories from Abbey Road

31st October 2023

Happy Halloween from our (haunted) house!

Legend has it the studios are not only the home of some of the world’s greatest recordings, but also to the ghostly apparition of The White Lady.

100 years ago, Abbey Road was inhabited by British theatre producer John Maundy Gregory and his music hall star wife, Edith Rosse. In the mid ‘20s, Rosse died under mysterious circumstances... The White Lady and Edith Rosse are thought to be one and the same.

Read the full excerpt by Patrick Stapely printed in Studio Sound Magazine in January 1992.


Patrick Stapley unearths some studio ghost stories, and wonders whether the spooks are good for business or just a sufferable evil.

Britain has always been rich in stories of the supernatural: tales of ghosts, ghouls, poltergeists and things that go bump in the night, abound. It may, or may not, then come as a surprise to learn that many of the country's recording studios are reputedly haunted. I have to admit that on the face of it, headless knights and the latest in digital technology do appear something of an unlikely anachronism but when you consider the number of studios that have been built on historic sites and the amount of work that goes on through the night, it begins to be more understandable.

The first and perhaps most famous studio to have a ghost is Abbey Road. Built as a desirable, private residence in 1831, the property was converted into studios by The Gramophone Company 100 years later but in the 1920s it was home to the notorious John Maundy Gregory. Gregory was in the business of selling 'honours' for sizable sums, that he allegedly split with Lloyd George's government. A knighthood or even a baronetcy could be purchased in this way. The well-known phrase, ‘Lloyd George knew my father', was the stock reply used by sons and daughters when asked about their father's newly acquired title.
The house in Abbey Road as it was in the twenties, where John Maundy Gregory and the hapless Edith Rosse once lived together.

Photos courtesy of EMI Archive Trust
Gregory shared the house with Edith Rosse, a former music hall star, and together they masqueraded as husband and wife, until her suspicious death in the mid '20s. Under Gregory's orders, the body was buried at a Thames side graveyard that was particularly prone to flooding - a strange choice unless, of course, it was intended that the body should decompose quickly.

Foul play was eventually suspected and the body was exhumed to undergo one of the longest post mortems in police history. No firm evidence was found connecting Gregory with her death but, nevertheless, he left the country in great haste never to return again - fuelling the widespread belief that he had poisoned her.

The White Lady and Edith Rosse are thought to be one and the same. The story that is most often told of the ghost dates back to the early '60s, just pre-dating the first Beatles recordings. In those days the studio didn't work late and at night the building would be deserted apart from the commissionaire, whose duty it was to make periodical security checks. It was in the early hours during one of these rounds that the man, an ex-Hong Kong policeman called Smythe, got the fright of his life. The building has a number of long corridors intersected by the glass panelled swing doors; the commissionaire was on the ground floor when he noticed the door in front of him shudder - a sign that the door further down the corridor had opened and closed causing a vacuum. The same thing happened again. Peering through the glass into the dimly lit passageway, he could just make out the next set of doors opening; through it came a figure dressed entirely in white.
The deserted reception of Abbey Road Studios. It was in the early hours during one of his rounds that commissionaire, Smythe, got the fright of his life.
Transfixed, he stood back as the doors in from of him swung open, letting through a woman in a long flowing white dress; as she silently drifted past him, the temperature suddenly dropped, and as quickly as she'd appeared, the apparition vanished into the gloom. In the morning a very pale and shaky commisionaire handed in his resignation.

Although this is perhaps the best sighting of the White Lady, it is not the only one; other strange things have happened: doors opening and closing by themselves, rooms suddenly filling with a strong smell of perfume, and there is an alleged bloodstain that changes colour in one of the attic rooms.

Another unexplained event occurred a few years ago when technical engineer Brian Gibson was taking some night photographs of the front of the building. He noticed that a light had been left on in one of the upstairs offices and told the security man about it. The man immediately went up to investigate but when he unlocked the room the light was off. No one apart from the security man had access to keys, no one had been seen either going up or coming down, and the lights in the room were checked to be working perfectly normally. Gibson's photographs showed the light to be on.

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