The Serpentine dominates the southern end of Hyde Park in London. This man-made lake was created around 1730 for Queen Caroline, wife of King George II, blocking the Westbourne River. The Serpentine was one of the first artificial lakes in England designed to appear natural when long, straight lakes were in vogue at the time.
It did not take long to make the artificial lake a destination for suicides, there were dozens and dozens of suicide attempts every year, many of them fatal.
For example Harriet Westbrook Shelley committed suicide right here at age 21 in 1816. Harriet was the first wife of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and had been abandoned by him for Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, famous for writing Frankenstein. It is rumored that she was pregnant by a lover at the time of her suicide and many swear that her ghost still walks around the Serpentine.
A story tells that two ladies stopped on the bank of the Serpentine, and noticed something in the lake that was moving. A thin, pale hand was visible with long fingers opening and closing like those of a drowning person. On the middle finger the hand had a gold ring that sparkled and then the ghost hand disappeared into the lake. Could that be Harriet’s ghost?
In 1857 a child was killed and thrown into the Serpentine, for several years it is said that a ghost of a child often passed by, so much so that many then decided not to go near the Hyde Park lake.