The Ghostly Child of Oxford Street

For more years than they cared to remember, Joan and Frank Grayraith* had tried for children without any success. Both were aged 37 and thought time was running out. Then, on the night of Good Friday, 1965, at around 11.30pm, an hour after the Grayraiths had retired to bed at their home off Cambridge Street, close to Oxford Street Maternity Hospital, the couple were awakened from their slumbers by the crying of a child. There was nothing unusual about that, as the cries of babies at the maternity hospital could often be heard in the area, especially at night, but the cries of this child echoed in a very strange way, and Joan felt great pity for the child. Frank said it was just a baby’s cries echoing an unusual distance from the hospital, because sound travels further at night. The couple then turned separate ways in their bed and returned to the carefree world of sleep. At exactly three in the morning, Joan woke up to find her bedroom bathed in a bright silvery light. She looked to her right, and there was a glowing little girl, about four or five years of age, standing in the corner. Joan was naturally scared at first, but the beautiful and sad angelic face of the ghostly girl, with her mop of cherubic curly hair, gradually allayed the woman’s fears. Joan felt a maternal instinct which told her to embrace this little child, whether she was flesh and blood or spirit. The child climbed onto the bed, and it was obvious she possessed no weight, as Joan never felt the child walking across the blankets. Joan hugged the girl, and started to cry, because she knew it had been so long since that child had felt a warm embrace from a living person. The phantom girl clung to Joan for some time, and as soon as Frank woke up, he saw glowing thing in his wife’s arms, then cried out, and the child was suddenly gone. The room was in complete darkness. Frank switched the bedside lamp on and comforted his sobbing wife. On Easter Sunday after mass at St Anne’s Church, Frank told an elderly friend named Gabriel about the encounter with the glowing little girl, and the oldster told him he had heard about that ghost many years ago when he lived on Mulberry Street, close to Oxford Street Maternity Hospital. Gabriel had heard that the ghost had a habit of granting fertility to couples who were seemingly barren. Furthermore, there were different stories as to the identity of the girl. Some thought she was a child from the 1920s who was accidentally burnt alive in a hospital incinerator as she lay unconscious from a contagious fever in a comatose state. Another theory was that the girl had been buried in Mulberry Street Cemetery in Victorian times, the victim of an orphanage fire in the area. Joan Grayraith fell pregnant, and for almost nine months, the radiant child visited most nights. All it did was hug Joan, and as much as she and Frank spoke to it, it never said a word. When Joan’s baby, a little girl named Patricia, was born, the ghost never visited again. They say on some nights, the cry of a child is still heard in the vicinity of the former maternity hospital off Oxford Street, a building that now houses student flats.

* not their real names.
© Tom Slemen 2010.