Don’t be surprised if things go bump in the night when you’re on Chaoyangmennei, for number 81 is supposedly a haunted house. Many spine-tingling stories have grown around it, but the facts are these: the house sits near the East Second Ring Road and was built on behalf of the Catholic Church in the early 20th century. Its main purpose was to act as a residence for British missionaries living in Beijing, but it is now disused. Nevertheless, thanks to its imposing appearance and the urban myths with which it is associated, it has become a favourite shooting location for Chinese films and TV series.
One story surrounding the house involves the family of a Chinese Nationalist Party general who used to live there. After losing the civil war to the Communist Party in 1949, the general ran off to Taiwan and left his wife behind. Distraught, the poor lady committed suicide by hanging herself from a beam. There have been reports that you can hear the sound of her crying coming from the house during thunderstorms at night.
Some more supposed paranormal goings-on concern a summer night in 2001 and a group of drunken construction workers from a site across the street. The basement of the building they were working on was divided from the ‘ghost mansion’ by a thin wall. Rumour has it they were so drunk that they broke the poorly built wall down with their bare hands and went inside. The next day, none of the men could be found.
It is also said that, during summertime, the temperature at the mansion’s door is much lower than the temperature on the same level of a building just 20m away. Spooky.
Chaonei Church 81 Chaoyangmennei, Chaoyang district. 朝阳区朝内大街81号院