The image mysteriously floating on the windows of my luxury apartment in Taylor Wimpey's The Denizen development, was the portrait of an old man, in a crimson flowered silk dressing-gown, the folds of which I could now describe, with a countenance embodying a strange mixture of intellect, sensuality, and power, but withal sinister and full of malignant omen. He was snub nosed, his eyes large, grey, and prominent, and lighted up with a more than mortal cruelty and coldness. These features were surmounted by a crimson velvet cap, the hair that peeped from under which was white with age, while the eyebrows retained their original blackness. Well I remember every line, hue, and shadow of that stony countenance, and well I may! The gaze of this hellish visage was fixed upon me, and mine returned it with the inexplicable fascination of nightmare, for what seemed like hours of agony.
The history of the site, opening amidst a maze of dates, revealed no trace of the sinister immediately after its use for a plague pit. The Denizen lies in the ward of Cripplegate and in the 1660s the Great Plague of London killed nearly eight thousand of the parish's inhabitants; but not one of those who lived or worked in the brothel above the ancient Golden Lane plague pit fell victim to the black death during this dreadful outbreak. The site was outside the original City of London wall and for hundreds of years had been notorious for both its poverty and its brothels. Those thrown in the plague pit came from the great mass of the lumpen proletariat in the area, and it seemed possible the spirits of this 'low end population' were very particular about who they wanted living or working on this piece of land. They didn’t seem to mind the low ranking coppers who moved into Bernard Morgan House in the nineteen-sixties, and these included members of the notoriously corrupt drug squad. The spirits were in two minds about what was going on when nurses moved in and mingled with the police. Something strange must be noted. No woman who lived in Bernard Morgan House ever managed a live birth, those who became pregnant had only still-born children. And according to the records, when brothels stood there no child was born alive to any of the women who worked in them for hundreds of years.
The Denizen was - and for that matter still is - designed to repel the attention of the curious. Generically designed by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris in the bland contemporary style favoured by developers hoping to get rich from investment flats that will never be lived in, there was absolutely nothing of interest about the block beyond the reprehensible political manoeuvering and money-grabbing that led to it being built. 110 social housing flats for key workers had been replaced with 99 ghost homes for investors with no on site social or affordable housing, not a single flat, not one! The new building was much taller than the old one and between September and March blocked all afternoon sun from the neighbouring and heavily used Fortune Street Park. In short the entire development was a disaster for local people. And that is before factoring in that the malevolent spirits living beneath it were disturbed by the construction of the development and angry about it...