Ghostly happenings at Hampton Court Palace

Bruna Zanelli


Situated in the pretty, leafy county of Surrey, and overlooking the gently flowing River Thames, is the magnificent Hampton Court Palace, former home of England’s King Henry V111th. As well as being one of the most beautiful, the Palace is reputably one of the most haunted buildings in the UK.

Open to the public, many visitors have reported seeing and hearing strange ‘things’. It is well documented that two of Henry’s wives ‘visit’ the rooms where they lived and, in the case of Catherine Howard, his fifth and youngest wife, suffered. Finding the old King sexually repulsive, the beautiful 20 year old looked elsewhere for love, paying dearly for her indiscretions. Many visitors have heard her desperate cries. She can be heard running through the long passages, screaming for ‘Henry’, begging for mercy. Believing that if she could see the King one more time, she could make him forgive her, Catherine managed to escape her jailors. Banging on the King’s door, she screamed for him but the door remained closed. Catherine died by the sword at the Tower of London and to this day, her cries echo throughout the Palace, disturbing many a visitor.

Jane Seymour, Henry’s third wife, died after giving him the son he so desperately desired, and her sad spirit is said to wander from the Queen’s Apartments and up the stairs to the Silver Stick Gallery, a lighted taper in her hand, her white robe silently brushing the ground.

But of all the ghosts said to haunt Hampton Court, and there are many, the most frequently seen is Sybil Penn, foster mother to Jane Seymour’s sickly son, Edward V1. In 1562, Mistress Penn died from smallpox and was buried in the old church at Hampton Court. Following the demolition of the church in 1829, frequent sightings of Mistress Penn began to circulate. She was seen in her old chambers in the Palace together with the continuous, though inexplicable, click clack sound of a spinning wheel apparently coming from behind a wall. Eventually the wall was knocked down to reveal a room that had been hidden for centuries and inside the room was discovered her spinning wheel!

Policemen are not usually given to believing tales of the supernatural but there is a written report by a Police Constable who, in 1907, was one night stationed on Guard Duty at the Main Gate. Looking towards Home Park, he saw two gentlemen and several ladies strolling some thirty feet before him. Suddenly, as he watched them, they vanished!

Ghosts are plenty at Hampton Court and no self respecting ghost ‘hunter’ should give the Palace a miss. A mere 20 minutes drive from Heathrow Airport, Hampton Court should be prominent on any visitor’s itininery.

Who knows, they could get lucky and see Jane Seymour or witness the hapless Catherine Howard, pleading for her life. They may even meet the formidable Mistress Sybill Penn.


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