Ghost stories from Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace has been the setting for many dramatic royal events over the last 500 years, including the death of Henry VIII’s third wife, Jane Seymour and the imprisonment of his fifth wife, Katherine Howard.

It is no wonder then that visitors and staff alike have experienced unusual phenomena within its walls. Perhaps one of the most famous stories is that of Katherine Howard’s screaming spectre.

On 30 October 1541, Thomas Cranmer informed Henry, via a letter, that his new Queen was accused of ‘dissolute living before her marriage with Francis Dereham’. The King ordered Cranmer to thoroughly investigate the claims and confined Katherine to her apartments with only Lady Rochford to attend her.

Haunted Gallery at Hampton Court Palace

It is said that Katherine broke free from her captors and ran down the corridor, toward the private chapel where Henry was at Mass, to beg for the King’s mercy. She banged on the door but  unfortunately, Katherine was caught before Henry heard her pleas and dragged back to her apartments screaming and protesting.

We will never know for certain whether these events took place but what is certain is that visitors and staff have reported hearing spectral screams and feeling ‘uneasy’ in the ‘Haunted Gallery’.

Haunted Gallery Hampton Court

On one occasion a female form, dressed in white was seen floating down the Haunted Gallery ‘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)

According to Palace officials, during two separate evening tours one night in 1999, two female visitors fainted on the same spot in the Haunted Gallery only one hour apart. Both women reported feeling frightened and uncomfortable and one so much so that she refused to rejoin the tour.

Other visitors have contacted me personally and reported feeling a presence in the gallery, feeling a sudden drop in temperature, having their hair pulled and one gentleman even felt spectral hands grab him around the neck!

Katherine is not the only one of Henry’s wives said to make herself known at Hampton Court. Jane Seymour, Henry’s third wife, is said to wander the cobbled courtyard of Clock Court carrying a lighted taper.

Jane Seymour by Hans Holbein the Younger

In the early hours of the 24th October 1537, only 12 days after the birth of Prince Edward, Jane died in her apartments. These apartments no longer exist but Jane has been seen gliding through the cobbled grounds of Clock Court and on the anniversary of the birth of Edward, ascending the stairs leading to the Silver Stick Gallery, dressed in a white robe and carrying a candle.

Unfortunately, the Gallery is not on the public route and so visitors are not permitted to enter this particular apartment.

Perhaps Jane returns in search of the son that she held only so briefly but is there another connected to Prince Edward that also calls Hampton Court home almost 500 years after her death?

Prince Edward by Hans Holbein

Sybil Penn was nurse to Prince Edward and also nursed Elizabeth I through small pox in 1562, only to succumb to the disease shortly afterwards.

Sybil was buried in nearby Hampton Church and according to palace officials; her spirit was disturbed in the 1800’s when the old church was pulled down.  Since that date she is said to have returned to the rooms she lived in at Hampton Court Palace and has become one of the most ‘persistent’ ghosts.

Interestingly, legend has it that after Sybil’s resting place was disturbed, people began hearing the sound of a spinning wheel from behind a wall of the southwest wing of the palace. Upon further investigation, an old chamber was discovered and inside lay an antique spinning wheel…

Old Hampton Church

Sightings of a ‘lady in grey’ are believed to be that of Sybil Penn. She is seen in various Tudor cloisters and courtyards.

Queens and nursemaids are not the only spectral beings said to return to Hampton Court. Visitors and staff often comment on the ‘strange atmosphere’ of the Wolsey Closet.

According to palace officials ‘A dog has been seen and heard in the room on more than one occasion, and the presence of a dog felt by somebody “sensitive” to paranormal activity.’

Most recently a strange image caught on the palaces’ CCTV footage caught the attention of the world.

In October 2003, palace security staff were alerted to an open Fire Door. After investigating and securing the doors the staff returned to inspect the CCTV footage. On the first occasion, the doors flew open without any sign of who or what opened them but on the second occasion, the staff were shocked to find a figure, in what looked like period dress, appear and close the doors. This pattern was repeated on the third day, minus the ghostly figure.

What makes this story even more curious is that on the second day, when the figure was captured on camera, a visitor reported seeing a ghost in that very area in the visitor’s book.

To this day palace officials have no explanation for this ghostly intruder!

Watch the video and decide for yourself.

Fast Tube by Casper

I would love to hear from you if you feel that you have encountered a Tudor ghost on your travels!

Share your experiences and read about the eerie encounters other readers have had here.

Watch a dramatic retelling of these stories on this short video.

Fast Tube by Casper

Ghosts at Hampton Court Factsheet
Ghost stories and legends from Hampton Court Palace

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  1. Lady Meg says:

    There is definitely something in the Tower of London — I have felt it now twice — in the same spot. It would be in the Jewel House — the room before the vault where they showcase the video of the current Queen being crowned. It’s a heavy uneasy feeling that kind of ways you down and suffocates you; you feel like you’re going to collapse unless you get out of there. I’ve heard from ghost shows that spirits sometimes take on your energy and drain you of it. I always thought that Anne Boleyn was executed where the Barracks were — that’s what I read recently in the Ives book; the Barracks no longer exist and the Jewel house is where the Barracks used to be. I wonder… I also had problems in the Bloody Tower coming down some stairs — again feeling dizzy.

    • Thank you for sharing Meg! I relate to the heavy feeling you are speaking of and if you are a ‘sensitive’ person then you can become very drained and tired in ‘haunted’ locations. Really fascinating!

    • Rebecca says:

      Hi everyone,

      Lady Meg, I’ve had experiences in the same places at the Tower. I actually couldn’t climb up the stairs in the Bloody Tower because when I touched the stone wall it felt slimy and poisonous, so I subsequently had to leave. On the same visit I also sensed a presence in the queuing room of the Jewel House, although fortunately I didn’t find it overpowering – it was similar to feelings I experience whenever I visit Hampton Court Palace. I’ve been fascinated by the palace since I was very young and love Tudor history.

  2. Hello Natalie!!!

    Really, really interesting all Tudor ghosts histories!!! I love all of them!!!

    I visited Hampton Court last summer but I haven’t encountered a Tudor ghost and I haven’t felt anything strange… But I think that If there are histories about Tudor Ghosts is because there are something there… What do you think??? 😉

    See you!!! ^^

  3. noorain says:

    I visited Hampton Court last week. Just as I was descending the stairs towards the exit from the young Henry VIII exibit, I heard a womans voice whisper “They all died here”. I didnt take it too seriously and throught it was my mind playing tricks on me seeing as I knew the history of the place and was alone in a semi dark staircase late at evening. But a few steps later, I heard it again. I dont know if it was a ghost or a recording placed there deliberately, but it sure made me take off my high heels and run for the exit.

    • Did this staircase have a window overlooking the gardens?? I had a similar experience leaving the Young Henry exhibit. I was toe only person in the room, and decided to take a photo of the gardens through the window. I heard a voice, either a young boy or a woman in her 15-20’s say “Did you get it? Did you get it??”
      I nodded and left quickly!

  4. Mary the Quene says:

    When an extremely traumatic emotionally-charged event occurs between humans, sometimes a ‘loop’ of the event remains in the physical space. That seems to be what happened in the Haunted Gallery; it’s not so much haunted as it is a place containing stuck energy of a young woman, overwrought and rightfully hysterical.

  5. charlie says:

    have you ever been to the biltmore house it feels the same way

  6. ms morgan says:

    my husband and i visited Hampton court on the 9th July 16, we were engrossed in the Wolsey rooms and got separated. i descended a whitewashed staircase and decided to wait for him there. whilst alone and sitting on a window ledge, i heard a sweet young girls voice, repeating three words time after time in a foreign language. it kept on and on like an echo for fifteen mins at least. other people descended the same staircase and seemed oblivious to it. i eventually left via the corridor to wait on the bench by fountain court.

  7. Myself and my family visited Hampton Court on my birthday. We were using the audio guides. Before entering what I subsequently learnt was the Haunted Gallery, I decided to give my ears a bit of a rest and paused the audio. I wandered about half way along the Gallery. Suddenly I felt as if someone was pushing their finger into my forehead. I felt dizzy and had to crouch on the floor, to save myself from possibly falling over. I wondered if I was having something like a stroke and thought of the irony of dying on my birthday! This all lasted probably only a few seconds. I then started the audio again, only to be shocked to hear on the recording that number of people have felt unwell and dizzy in the Gallery.

  8. Melissa Kooyman says:

    Wow, I would love to visit these places. If just for the history , the spooky stuff would be a bonus. Here in the US history belongs to the Native Americans. Thats cool too. But old castles? Nothing like it. So keep on telling your experiences, I enjoy reading them. Thank you.

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