Hot on the heels of Hampton Court announcing a series of spooky walks for Hallowe’en, another of the buildings under the care of Historic Royal Palaces is offering the chance to look for regal ghosts. In just a few weeks time, Kensington Palace will open its doors for eerie evening tours which HRP say will offer three hundred years of secrets – all to be uncovered in just a few hours.
Among the ghosts said to haunt the corridors of this royal residence is that of King George II who arrived in England in 1714 as heir to the throne, leaving behind his beloved homeland of Hanover. In the weeks before his death, on October 25th 1760, he is said to have stood staring at the weathervane of the palace waiting for the wind to change and news to come to him of the land where he was born and grew up.
This poignant tale is just one of those which will be recounted by expert explainers who will lead the tours around Kensington Palace by lamplight. Visitors will tread empty staircases and hidden passageways as the royal ghost stories unfold while some of these regal fright tales will be recounted in the State Apartments.
Kensington Palace is still famous as a working royal home today with perhaps its most famous current inhabitants being the family of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge who live there while in London. But it has been a royal residence since 1689 when William III and Mary II commissioned Sir Christopher Wren to renovate and expand a mansion they had bought in Kensington as they were keen to move there to improve the king’s health. William loved his new home so much that when he fell from his horse at Hampton Court in 1702 and suffered life threatening injuries he asked to be taken back to Kensington where he died on February 22 that year.
His story is another of the royal spook tales that will be told on the Eerie Evening Tours. Visitors will also hear about a princess called Sophia who is said to have become pregnant and was sent to live at the palace after the birth of her child, in disgrace. But perhaps the saddest story to be told is that of Caroline of Ansbach, wife of George II, who lived at the palace and whose death devastated the monarch. Caroline’s death was agonizing – she suffered a ruptured womb and the doctors of the day carried out several surgical procedures on her with no anaesthetic. Eleven days later, she died in extreme pain. Her husband never got over her loss and let parts of Kensington Palace slide into a state of abandonment as a result.
More of Caroline’s sad story will be told on the evening tours which begin on October 29th and run on selected dates through to January 22nd 2016. They are run by Historic Royal Palaces, an independent charity which looks after six important buildings across the UK, with tickets costing £27.50. The tour lasts for 90 minutes. You can book on the Historic Royal Palaces website, www.hrp.org.uk, or by calling 0844 482 7777.
Photo credit: “George II by Thomas Hudson” by Thomas Hudson – Scanned from the book The National Portrait Gallery History of the Kings and Queens of England by David Williamson, ISBN 1855142287.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.