by Walter Bissell
Hampton Court Palace was built in 1525 for King Henry VIII. The palace is located in the London Borough of Richmond, 10 miles west of central London, England on the Thames River. The palace contains the last medieval “Great Hall” built for the English kings.
At the Great Hall, King James I of England met with the English Puritans at the Hampton Court Conference of 1604. This meeting led to the commissioning of the King James Version of the Holy Bible. Hampton Court is also the site of the famous “Hedge Maze.” Planted for King William III, it is said that some who entered the maze never found their way out.
And so, the Haunting Began
In true Tudor style, a new wing was added under the supervision of Sir Christopher Wren, during the reign of William and Mary. About one half of the palace was restored from 1689 to 1694. In 1702 William fell from his horse and died a short time later from his injuries. Under the reign of King George II and Queen Caroline, architect william Kent was employed to renovate the Queen’s living quarters. He designed new furnishings for her bedroom, bathroom and private chapel. These rooms are still open to the public. King George III was the last member of the royal family to live at the palace. He kept things at Hampton Court Palace pretty much the same untill the end of his reign in 1760. Queen Victoria began restoration of the Great Hall in 1796. She completed it in 1838 and opened it to the public. A suspicious fire destroyed a large portion of the King's Apartments in 1989. Repair of the damage was complete in 1995.
As is quite common among the great English castles and palaces, Hampton Court is thought to be haunted by her notorious past. Queen Jane Seymour, the third wife of King Edward VI, gave birth to Prince Edward here in 1537. Twelve days later she died from the complications of childbirth. Her ghost is said to haunt the main staircase in the Palace and has been seen carrying a candle as she walks through the cobbled courtyards of the palace.
Prince Edward was raised by his nurse Sibell Penn. She died in 1562 and was buried on the castle grounds. Her tomb was uncovered in 1829 and immediately the workers heard a strange whirring sound coming from a small room that had been bricked up. When they reopened the room they found an old spinning wheel thought to be the one used by Sibell Penn.
Queen Catherine Howard was arrested at the Hampton Court in 1542. It is said that as her guards were dragging her down the Long Gallery, she began screaming for King Henry VIII to save her. A ghastly scream is sometimes heard in the same area of the palace.
Others report seeing the ghosts of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn but the most famous haunting was reported during the Christmas season of 2003. In October of the same year, the security staff reported hearing alarms indicating that the fire doors had been opened. The doors were quickly checked and were found to be in the closed position. The same thing happened the next day at about one o’clock pm. To figure out what was going on, the staff installed CCTV cameras, aiming them at the fire doors. A few days later, about one o’clock, the alarm sounded again and again the doors were found closed. The security staff checked the CCTV footage and saw the heavy doors suddenly pop open, apparently by themselves. A few seconds later the indistinct image of a person wearing a long hooded coat appeared in the doorway. The stranger reached out and grabbed the inside door handles and quickly closed the doors. It was reported that on the next day, at the same time, the doors popped open again but the hooded stranger did not appear. The video evidence is believed to be authentic; the ghostly figure?
Visitors are always welcome at Hampton Court Palace. Its doors are always open, well at least some of them are open, “by one o’clock pm.”
For More Information About the Palace, Visit the:
Hampton Court Palace Official Website