She was also nothing like the looker she is purported to have been: a contemporary historian, Plutarch wrote: “Her beauty was by no means flawless or even remarkable”, and from her portrait on this coin she is less Liz Taylor more Graham Taylor. Regardless of the vagaries of history her name lives on in Covent Garden. Cleopatra’s Needle stands 60 feet above the mighty Thames in Southern Covent Garden, the obelisk is first recorded in 1476 BC and came to London in 1878 AD. When it was erected a time capsule was buried beneath, within which was entombed that morning’s newspapers, a box of pins, 1878’s mintage of coins, four bibles and photographs of the twelve most beautiful women of London at the time (one of whom was the 60 year-old Queen Victoria).
On sultry Summer evenings, amongst the swathes of vehicular and pedestrian traffic on Victoria Embankment you may not think to consider turning your gaze towards Cleopatra’s Needle however if you do you may be beheld with a spookily cathartic sight. At the turn of the twentieth century it was a favoured place for suicides and would-be suicides. The naked shade of one such is sporadically seen at the Needle, upon being noticed he jumps from his perch into a watery grave, but there is no splash in the river, instead phantom laughter can be heard echoing across the placid water. Another ghost, who has been witnessed here, is that of a Victorian girl. In the 1920s a policeman walking on the Embankment noticed a young lady in hysterics who was frantically pointing towards the Needle but speechless with dread. On turning, the policeman saw another young girl preparing to jump, he turned back to the first girl but she had disappeared. In bewilderment he turned back to the girl on the Needle only to find that she too had vanished.