Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court Palace and St James’s Palace are the last two surviving palaces built by King Henry VIII. King Henry had acquired Hampton Court in 1525 when his Chief Minister, Thomas Wolsey, Arch Bishop of Canterbury fell from favour. Wolsey had spent seven years rebuilding the 14th century manor that would form the core of Henry’s new palace. Wolsey was allowed to stay at Hampton Court Palace until 1529.
There are a few ghosts reported to reside at Hampton Court Palace. Catherine Howard (image left) (1521- 13th February 1542) fifth wife of Henry VIII is said to linger in the Haunted Gallery. She had an affair with Thomas Culpepper news of which reached the Royal Court. She was arrested at Hampton Court Palace is said to have been dragged screaming and pleading down the gallery in question to the apartments in which she was being held. She was taken to Traitors Gate at the Tower of London, driven past the severed heads of her previous lovers as they were displayed on spikes on London Bridge. Catherine was beheaded aged twenty-one on 13th February 1542 supposedly saying “I die a queen, but would rather die the wife of Culpepper.” Visitors to the gallery where reputedly Catherine has been seen and heard screams heard, have reported feeling uneasy and two ladies once fainted within an hour of each other at the same point place. Catherine is also said to haunt the Tower of London.
Dame Sybil Penn, nurse of Prince Edward (King Edward VI) and Princess Elizabeth (Queen Elizabeth I) died of small pox in 1562. She was buried at Hampton Church. The church was renovated in 1829 and her tomb moved. This is thought to have triggered the haunting of the Grey Lady who started to appear just after this event. She has been seen in the Clock Court, state apartments and other parts of the palace.
The palace staircase is said to be haunted by Jane Seymour (image left) (1509 – 24 October 1537) third wife of King Henry VIII and mother to his only son King Edward VI. She was betrothed to Henry the day after Anne Boleyn was beheaded and married her 10 days later. Jane gave birth to Edward on 12 October 1537 at Hampton Court Palace and died there 12 days later of puerperal fever. She was buried in St Georges Chapel at Windsor Castle and when Henry himself died in 1547 he was buried beside her.
In 2003 the ghosts of Hampton Court Palace attracted worldwide media interest after closed circuit television caught an interesting image. On the first day security officers were alerted to a fire door opening near the Introductory Exhibition which was caught on the security camera. On the second day the door opened again but a figure was also seen. “A ghostly-looking figure in period dress suddenly appeared on the screen and closed the doors”. A woman visiting the palace remarked on thinking she had seen a ghost in that area around the same time. The door opened again on the following day but no ghost was caught this time. A spokeswoman denied it was a hoax engineered by the palace which I believe. Whether what they caught was actually a ghost though is still subject to debate.