By Richard Porritt 2007
After the Great Fire of London a mysterious story started being whispered across the charred city. People began claiming they had seen an angel floating above the Thames. Soon the sightings stopped and the myth disappeared. Then during the First World War the angel returned. Then again during the Second World War. Each time there were six sightings and many believed they represented the number of people who died in the fire in 1666. Eerily so far this year four people claim to have seen the angel near the London Eye and an internet cult is growing. Student Jemima Waterhouse, 16, from Sheen, spotted the angel in May as she wandered down the South Bank to meet a friend. She said: "I felt a sense of calm spreading over me. "It was comforting and familiar - a kind of peace that lasted for a while after. "It is really hard to put into words, but I guess you could describe it as peace of mind." She quickly snapped the apparition (circled) hovering close to the Queen Mary floating restaurant on her camera phone but when she showed her friend the quality was poor. She added: "My friend remained unconvinced until we got the photo onto a computer that evening when the image became clearer and the outline of what could only be described as an angel became distinct." These sightings have prompted much online chat about the so-called Angel of the Thames. Already angel walks are being offered along the waterside and Angel T-shirts are available. One angel obsessive - who meets up with other people who have spotted the ghostly figure to share their experiences - thinks it must date back to the fire. "It makes sense and the sightings do seem to come in waves and patterns," said the middle-aged woman - who did not want to be identified for fear of being laughed at by her pals at work. "I definitely saw something and believe totally in the angel. "There are too many sightings for it to not be true.The angel is real." But South London Press chief photographer Leah Desborough thinks there might be a more scientific explanation. She said: "There are a number of possible explanations such as boat fumes creating a mirage on the water. Also it's possible that the poor resolution of the camera phone could have created a flare. "However it is interesting that all the supposed pictures of the angel capture her in a similar form."