One of the most famous ghost stories in the world is the Hampton Court ghosts. Hampton court was built in 1515 by Henry the VIII as a gift for Cardinal Wolsey. He was a favorite of Henry’s at the time. Wolsey was basically Henry’s right hand man. He took care of all the administrative and financial duties that Henry found boring and uninteresting and often served as an important and essential consultant.
Wolsey started his life out as a commoner, he was not of noble lineage and this coupled with Henry’s favor generated a lot of jealousy and envy among the rest of Henry’s court. There were numerous intrigues and schemes going on in an effort to unseat Wolsey, with various plots and cabals always simmering in the background.
In 1529 the constant intrigue, rumor mongering and backstabbing finally had the desired result. Wolsey fell out of favor with Henry. He was also unable to negotiate an annulment of Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon which further displeased Henry. So, going back to his old job of Archbishop of York, he died of natural causes when he was on his way to answering to the charge of treason that Henry had leveled against him. Wolsey abandoned Hampton Court and Henry took it over for his own.
During the 1600s King William the III rebuilt much of the earlier Tudor style palace and expanded it in the Baroque style of the time. This was an attempt on William’s part to rival the grandeur and magnificence of Versailles. William lost interest in the project 1694 and the work ceased. The last monarch to actually live there was George the II in the 1700s.
The ghosts of Jane Seymour, Catherine Howard, Sybil Penn (The nanny to Henry’s son by Catherine Howard, Edward VI.) and an unidentified apparition nicknamed “Skeletor” are the most notorious and ubiquitous of Hampton Court’s haunters.
Jane Seymour was Henry’s third wife and gave birth to Edward the VI, his only male child. Jane dies two weeks later from complications caused by the childbirth. She became Henry’s “true love” and he was devastated by her death. She wanders the palace, dressed in white and looking for Edward. Jane is a benign ghost who apparently does not have any issues with the living or problems she needs help solving.
Catherine Howard, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. She allegedly committed adultery and was guilty of lewd behavior. Henry had her executed based on an unsubstantiated report from a third party. When confronted by her accuser she went running down a hallway now known as the “Haunted Gallery” towards the Chapel where Henry was in worship, screaming and shrieking and begging for Henry’s mercy. The guards got to her before she could reach Henry and dragged her off, still protesting desperately. She was thrown into the Tower of London and beheaded.
So now this scenario repeats itself over and over. Catherine runs down the Haunted Gallery towards the Chapel where Henry is attending Mass. She bangs and pounds on the heavy wooden door begging for mercy and forgiveness. She then returns back down the hall, with an expression of utter despair and hopelessness, disheveled and pale, shrieking and screaming like a wounded animal.
Catherine apparently has a few issues with the living. On one occasion two women on two separate tours both reported feeling extremely, inexplicably frightened and fainted while in the Haunted Gallery. One person claims a feeling of hands were wrapped around his neck. Also, numerous reports of “cold spots” in the gallery exist.
The “Lady in Grey” is Sybil Penn. People mention hearing a “whirring sound” like a Spinning Wheel from behind a wall in the Southwest wing of the palace. The wall fell. An old bricked up room revealed a spinning wheel inside. Sybil returns to this room and operates the spinning wheel as she did when she was Edwards Nanny, according to legend.
Check out Hampton Court Palace here: