With Halloween upon us, what better way to spend an evening than seeking out ghouls at one of Britain’s best-loved palaces? Hampton Court is offering ghost tours this season – for those brave enough!
Beginning on All Hallows Eve, that is 31st October, visitors will be taken around the 500-year-old palace by a well-informed costumed guide, who actually works at Hampton Court during the day as a warder.
This gives them excellent knowledge of the palace and its history, but also many of them have had supernatural – or at least unexplainable – experiences themselves.
Across selected weekends in November, then again in January and February, you can experience Hampton Court in a way which few do: in the dark!
Tales are recounted including that of the Grey Lady – or Sybil Penn. Part of Elizabeth I’s court, she died of smallpox in the complex and supposedly never left. Her ghost was never seen until her tomb was disturbed during works, and spinning wheel noises then began…
Jane Seymour famously died her in 1537 following the birth of her son, Edward VI. One story recounts how a warder, during the month of October around the time that Jane died, noted seeing a shimmering figure carrying a lit candle on the Silverstick Staircase, next to The Queen’s staircase and the location of her apartments during her life. He did not report feeling scared, but there was an overwhelming sense of sadness that came with the figure. Was it Henry VIII’s third wife, mourning that she would not see her son grow up?
One of the most famous videos to feature a ghost also comes from Hampton Court. Review the footage for yourself, and see if you can figure out just how those doors were opened, when there is no figure there at the beginning.
Notice anything unusual in Queen Caroline’s suite of rooms? Give a sniff, see if she’s there! Bodies in the cloisters? Must be those Civil War soldiers! Or is it?
In the aptly-named Haunted Gallery, guests are invited to end the tour alone – or in pairs, if they can’t stomach it! This is the area of the entire complex in which most people faint, or begin to feel ill. As my guide, Dave, put it, statistically speaking this is ‘bloody unlikely’, and shows something of an averse reaction to this corridor. (See Dave in action here)
It is here that Catherine Howard is reported to have escaped her captivity, and ran for the Chapel Royal, where she thought her husband to be – she hoped to plead for her life with the old King. She was caught and dragged back to her rooms, screaming. Reports of activity here include feeling faint, sad, and even echoes of screams from those living in the apartments nearby…
The tour ends in the magnificent Great Hall, where the group can discuss any of their experiences, and badger their guide with questions.
Wrap up warm, as the weather won’t be the only thing giving you the chills…
Book your tour here; selected weekends in November, January and February 2017. Adults £27.50. A family tour is also available.