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Spooktacular tales: Haunted Hampton Court Palace

Throughout the history of the English Monarchy, no royal residence has seen as much drama as Hampton Court Palace. From the bloody religious acts of Mary I to the failed marriages of Henry VIII. Many people died during these eventful reigns, but many of the spirits of Hampton Courts deceased still inhabit the sumptuous palace.

During the reign of George III, Hampton Court no longer became useful to the royal family. Therefore, it was used for other purposes, such as grace and favour homes and entertainment. Reports of ghostly sightings in the palace have existed since this time. One of the oldest reported ghouls includes Henry VIII’s fifth wife Catherine Howard. In 1541, she was accused and charged with adultery by Henry and was put under house arrest in her rooms at Hampton Court. As the guards were carrying her to her chambers, Catherine broke free of the guards hold and ran screaming hysterically down the corridor petitioning Henry for her life. Her attempts were in vain, for the guards eventually caught up with her and carried her back to her rooms. Catherine was executed soon after this. It has been said that a ghostly figure dressed in white can be seen roaming down that same hallway and that the harrowing cries of Catherine can still be heard. It has also been reported that one evening during a tour of the area, two ladies both fainted in the same spot in the hallway after noting they felt uncomfortable and frightened. Pretty strange if you’d ask me.

Catherine Howard

Catherine Howard

Five years before the execution of Catherine Howard, Henry’s third wife, Jane Seymour had given Henry his longed-for the son. Tragically, not long after the birth Jane died. It has been said by many times by workers in the palace that Jane’s ghost can be seen, on the anniversary of her son Edward’s birth. She descends from a staircase coming from the area in which she died and will walk across the courtyard carrying a candle. Spooky huh?

Skip ahead about four hundred years to 2003, and another palace presence made its debut one night. Security caught a disturbing figure on camera, famously known as ‘Skeletor.’ No one is sure if it was a worker or a visitor from that past. However, the manly figure was wearing Tudor period clothes. How frightening!

Not all of Hampton Courts ghostly inhabitants held royal titles. Sibell Penn, dubbed as ‘The Lady in Grey,’ was a servant who served royals from Henry’s son Edward all the way to Elizabeth I. Penn died in 1562 after many years of service. However when the church she was buried in was demolished in 1829 and her remains were moved, it is said that she returned to her rooms she inhabited while serving at the palace. There have been countless reports since that a spinning wheel could be heard spinning behind the walls in that area. After a demolition, workers discovered a small forgotten room. In it was an antique spinning wheel. Spine-Tingling!

There have been many other sightings and stories of strange happenings at Hampton Court, such as grace and favour residences being awakened by cold hands on them. Which of these stories stick out to you? Which royal ghoul would you most be afraid of?

Photo Credit: Portrait of a lady, probably of the Cromwell Family formerly known as Catherine Howard via Wikimedia Commons