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Tales of Tudor ghosts: Anne Boleyn

Many people believe that there is a supernatural world beyond our own; a world where ghosts, spectres and past souls roam free – or perhaps stay on earth to complete some unfinished business. These beliefs have brought up hundreds of reported sightings throughout history, some of which have been thought to be apparitions of famous historical figures. During the spookiest time of the year, Royal Central is taking a closer look at the stories of one former queen who is allegedly still haunting almost 500 years after her death.

Throughout history, one name has continually re-surfaced with reports of alleged sightings. This has happened so often and at so many well-known locations, that this person has earnt the title of the most well-travelled ghost in Britain.

The soul in question is that of King Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn. The former queen – who was also the mother of Queen Elizabeth I – was accused of adultery and beheaded at the Tower of London on 19 May 1536. She is said to be buried at the church of St Peter Ad Vincula within the Tower’s walls.

Since her death almost 500 years ago, there have been countless reports of ghostly activity at several homes and palaces associated with Anne Boleyn, many of which have been attributed to re-appearances of the former queen.

A famous example was in 1864 when Captain J. D. Dundas was living in the Tower of London. The story goes that one day he looked out of the window and noticed a Yeoman Warder acting strangely whilst standing in the courtyard where Anne Boleyn had been beheaded. He appeared to challenge something, which Dundas said: “Looked like a whitish, female figure sliding towards the soldier”. The guard charged through the form with his bayonet, then fainted. He was only saved from a prison sentence because Dundas testified as a witness at his court-martial.

Another sighting at the tower occurred within Anne’s final resting place of the church of St Peter Ad Vincula. The guard on duty said that he saw a “flickering light inside late one night”. Plagued by curiosity, the Captain of the Guard climbed a ladder to see inside. He recalled seeing a procession of Ladies and Knights in Tudor-style dress – led by Anne Boleyn – parading down the aisle of the chapel. He vividly remembered the former queen stopping by her grave in front of the altar before disappearing.

The Tower of London is not the only place where Anne’s ghost has been spotted. In what sounds like something straight out of horror film, an apparition of her headless body has been seen numerous times at Windsor Castle, running through the halls in the Dean’s Cloister whilst clutching her severed, screaming head.

Similarly, it seems her spirit continues to make an annual appearance at her childhood home of Hever Castle in Kent, England every Christmas. Witnesses say she has been seen walking over a bridge across Eden Lake or under a huge oak tree on the grounds as it is where she and King Henry VIII began their courtship.

One of the most notorious stories of Anne Boleyn’s ghost involves her annual visit to her birthplace of Bickling Hall in Norwich accompanied by four spectral horses and a headless horseman. The tale goes that every year on 19 May (the anniversary of her execution) she is seen arriving at the hall with her ghost clutching her decapitated head. It is said she proceeds to roam the corridors from dusk until sunrise.