Nan Clark’s Lane, NW7

Place Name

Apparently named after a late-17thCentury pub landlady Nan Clark, who was murdered by her lover, or possibly her husband. Local legend says that one night her partner flew into a fit of jealous rage. Grabbing her in front of the pub’s punters he pulled her kicking and screaming down the country lane to a pond where he proceeded to push her head under the water until she drowned. Certainly there was an Ann or Nan Clark who ran a pub called the Rising Sun, which was close to this lane  There are, admittedly, a lack of details but the lane is said to be one of the most haunted in England. The pub, an 18thCentury bow-fronted building, was demolished in 1937. The legend of Nan Clark has since transferred to the surviving Rising Sun, which is nearby. According to the Hendon & District Archaeological Society’s Newsletter: “In 1698 she was granted a renewal of her victualler’s licence and, in 1700, there is a record of her petition to licence an alehouse.” But then nothing until in 1703 local records showed that her daughter’s Mary and Elizabeth Clark were being supported by the parish. This may have been because their father, believed to have been an Edward Clark, a victualler, had died in 1696 of causes unknown. His estate was passed not to Nan or their daughters but to his older brother William, suggesting that the Clark family had disapproved of the marriage. Being such good church-going folk, Clark’s father was a respected member of the community and a churchwarden, the two young orphans were put into care. So we know that Nan probably died in 1702 or 1703 but for reasons not explained Parish records show she wasn’t buried until until July 7, 1708. Since then there have been numerous “sightings” of a  ghost that appears at midnight beneath a full moon to haunt the lane on Highwood Hill that bears her name. During the Second World War “a sentry at Moat Mount called out the guard because he saw a woman walking down the lane and across the fields. The guard surrounded the area and moved in, but found nothing. Then in 1950, a group of ghosthunters led a midnight vigil at the lane in the hope of seeing the ghost. The story, reported in the Hendon & Finchley Times of November 24, 1950 said that no contact was made; although a Mrs. Beales, not to be outdone reported a ‘strong contact’ and felt that ‘there was definitely something there.'”

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