Let’s be honest, I’m a sceptic. I don’t believe in ghosts or ghouls, shades or spectres. I’m not swung by the idea of evil spirits haunting hallways, but this ghost tour – it’s pretty creepy. After more than 500 years of history, Hampton Court Palace is steeped in intrigue. Many have met their grizzly end here, or spent their final years trapped in its walls. And many since have reported seeing spirits of tortured souls wandering the halls late at night. Even the most hardened sceptic may start to doubt when the floorboards start creaking and the air turns chill.
Hampton Court runs several of these tours on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between Halloween and the End of March, the chill winter air evidently adding to the experience. They take place in the dark of night, either at 19:00, 20:00 or 20:30 and are strictly over 15’s only (although there are family tours for those with younger children which run on Saturdays throughout February and March). Tours take roughly 1½ – 1¾ hours and walk you around the darkened halls and grounds of the palace, considered to be one of the most haunted buildings in Britain.
During the spooky, atmospheric tour, you will be taken to the sites of some of the most infamous spectoral sightings in recent history, and will be on the look out for spirits such as “the lady in grey”, believed to be the disembodied incarnation of Sibell Penn, Young Prince Edward’s nursemaid, who, when her remains were disturbed in 1829, supposedly returned to the land of the living. Shortly after her re-emergence, the sound of a spinning wheel could be heard from behind a wall in the south-west wing of the palace. When the wall was demolished, a small forgotten room was found, as well as an old spinning wheel… the lady in grey has been wandering the halls ever since.
You might encounter the infamous spirits of the wives of Henry the Eighth: Catherine Howard, who was incarcerated at Hampton Court before her execution at the Tower of London, has been seen dressed in white, hurrying ‘towards the door of the Royal Pew, and just as she reaches it, has been observed to hurry back with disordered garments and a ghastly look of despair, uttering at the same time the most unearthly shrieks, till she passes through the door at the end of the gallery’. (A Short History of Hampton Court by Ernest Law, 1897). Or Jane Seymour, whose spirit is said to wander the cobbled Clock Court carrying a lighted taber.
Then, of course, there’s this CCTV footage which made international news in 2003:
Sceptic or not, the evening is a very entertaining one, you’ll be learning the fascinating stories behind one of Britain’s most intriguing historical treasures. Who knows? Perhaps you’ll see a spirit and become a believer. Even if you don’t, you’ll be enthralled by the history of this hauntingly beautiful palace.
Booking for tours can be found at http://www.hrp.org.uk/HamptonCourtPalace/WhatsOn/Ghosttours