One of the most haunted royal buildings in Britain sitting on the Thames River, just outside London is the Hampton Court Palace. As with most castles, and places which are said to house a few apparitions, the amount the Hampton Court possesses is truly astonishing. The palace is said to be plagued with dozens of unexplained phenomena; from soldiers, to ghostly dogs, to wives of King Henry VIII.
The Hampton Court was originally built for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, but over time the King grew fond of it, and took it over. He extended the palace with massive rebuilding and expansions, but construction was halted in 1694, giving the palace two different architectural styles. One style is a domestic Tudor, and the other is Baroque.
King Henry was the initial one to report seeing the decapitated head of his second wife, Anne Boleyn, who was executed for treason by committing adultery in 1536. Additional sightings of her apparition were detailed as having, not having, and even carrying her head. Observers of the phenomenon describe her as appearing in blue, or black, pacing slowly, and is said to permeate a sense of anguish.
King Henry’s third wife, Jane Seymour, who was said to be the love of his life, was the only one who was buried with him in his grave plot. Jane had died giving birth in 1537 to his only son, Edward. It is said that on every year on October 12, which is the anniversary of Edward’s birth, Jane appears dressed in a white robe carrying a lit candle.
Upon Lady Jane’s death, the newborn son was turned over to the care of a nurse, Sybil Penn. However, Penn ended up succumbing to smallpox in 1562, where she was laid to rest not far from the palace in St. Mary’s Church. Her ghostly spirit didn’t come about until St. Mary’s Church was struck by lightning in the 1820s. Since then, reports of a tall, hooded figure has been seen walking through the corridors of the palace, while simultaneously, a strange spinning sound coming from the west wing of the building. During thorough investigations, a wall was knocked down in the west wing, and behind it they found an unknown room, along with Sybil Penn’s old spinning wheel.
Without a doubt, the most extolled ghostly spirit in the Hampton Court Palace is King Henry’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard, who can be found lurking in the Haunted Gallery. Catherine was beheaded for sleeping with younger men in 1542. Legend states that moments of the ordering of her execution can be seen being played out by the apparitions in the gallery. Observers of the phenomenon state that Catherine’s spirit can be witnessed screaming for her life, until the castle guards grab her, and take her away to be decapitated.
Not all of the restless spirits who lurk through the corridors of the palace are of royal affiliation. There are tales of a dog apparition being seen running around the King’s apartments. A guard also reported seeing a strange man wearing a top hat disappear into the wine cellar. Also, a group of seven women and two men garbed in old-fashioned clothing are also said to wander the halls of Hampton Court. In 1917, a police officer claims to have opened a door for these ghostly spirits, before they disappeared into thin air.
Visitors to the palace shouldn’t be too surprised if they observe oddly dressed characters, as many of the tour guides appear in costume. Although, with all of the specters lurking through the halls of these past centuries, it wouldn’t be abnormal to witness the phenomena that have been taking place at Hampton Court Palace.