Saturday, 18 January 2014


It is seldom that anyone is lucky enough to catch a ghost, and even rarer to capture one to film, and far rarer still to have pictured more than one spirit in a single frame.

Yet this is what happened two years ago on a hot August weekend in Hampton Court Palace. The photographer, Trevor Tye was standing in the main public entrance waiting 45 minutes for the area to clear of tourists before he took this shot looking from the entrance to a galleried area above, in an area devoid of any people.

In this unretouched photograph, you can just see on the gallery what appears to be a small girl with blond locks and wearing a white coloured patterned dress. Please note the orb appearances around the area in question.

Here the image has been simply brightened to show more definition within the shadows.

In this second photograph you can see in this clipped and enlarged area, a possible second figure to the left (facing) of the girl and appears to be wearing a dark full length gown and a skull cap..

The photographer, Trevor Tye was told to leave afterwards by Hampton Court staff as photography is strictly banned. Whether the reasons are conservational (to preserve art from camera flashes) or commercial (to sell their own photographs), nobody can confirm.

Trevor left but later sent a copy to Hampton Court. The staff confirmed that a child ghost of a young girl had been seen there, and even a security officer later confirmed that he too had seen her.
Of course, the girl has to be `royal`, although nobody can confirm who she was in life.

But as intriguing is the second figure. Could this be the ghost of Cardinal Wolsey who owned Hampton Court before falling from grace?


Hampton Court Palace owes part of it`s existence to it`s predecessor, the former Knights Hospitallers of St John Jerusalem who acquired the manor of Hampton in 1236 and used the site as a grange - a centre for their agricultural estates.

The grange was later rented by the Hospitallers of St John, to a royal courtier,  Giles Daubeney, who took out a lease on the property in 1494.

Around this time, the area surrounding the grange was becoming very popular with members of the royal family, and particularly King Henry VII who rebuilt the royal lodgings at Sheen as Richmond Palace.
Henry and his family stayed on the Daubeney estate on a number of occasions and seem to have particularly favoured Daubeney’s country residence as a peaceful retreat away from their London homes at Westminster and the Tower of London.

Daubeney died in 1508, and the estate`s next resident was an ambitious religious cleric, one Thomas Wolsey.
Wolsey became firm friends with the next King, Henry VIII, and through him, Wolsey rose rapidly to becoming a cardinal and later, Lord Chancellor of England. He also held a host of other influential posts, and remained at Henry`s side for over a decade.

Wolsey (no doubt buoyed by his new status) decided to turn Daubeney’s estate into a Bishop`s palace fit for his own elevated social position.
Wolsey added new sumptuous private chambers for his own use, as well as three suites for the new royal family: one each for King Henry VIII, Queen Katherine of Aragon and their daughter Princess Mary. 

By the 1520`s, Hampton Court was centre to hosting many delegations from Europe, and with that Wolsey`s fall from grace wasn`t too far away into the future.
The Bishop`s Palace was regarded by some as far too grand a palace for a cleric, and Wolsey rarely ventured from his palace to visit the King, which drew scorn and division from within the royal household.

Although Wolsey`s days were numbered, it wasn`t until the late 1520s, that Henry who was desperate to obtain a divorce from his first wife. Katherine. The reason being that she had failed  to provide Henry with a male heir, despite numerous pregnancies.

Katherine was 40 in 1525, and the object of Henry’s desire was now the much younger Anne Boleyn. But after years of political manoeuvring and discussions, Katherine still refused to comply, the Pope didn’t grant the divorce and in 1528 Wolsey lost both Hampton Court and other estates to the King.

 Wolsey however, was permitted to remain as Archbishop of York. He travelled to Yorkshire for the first time in his career, but at Cawood in North Yorkshire, he was accused of treason and ordered to London by Henry Percy, 6th Earl of Northumberland. In great distress, he set out for the capital with his personal chaplain, Edmund Bonner (later known as the murderous Bishop of London, `Bloody` Bonner).  He fell ill on the journey, and died at Leicester on 29 November 1530, around the age of 60. "If I had served my God", the Cardinal said remorsefully, "as diligently as I did my king, He would not have given me over in my grey hairs."

By the time Henry finished his building works at Hampton Court Palace in about 1540, the palace was one of the most modern, sophisticated and magnificent in England. Much of what the visitor see`s today was that commissioned by Henry who made Hampton Court his own palace and reigned from there until his death 1547.

His three surviving children – the 9-year old Prince Edward and his older sisters Mary and Elizabeth. Each would rule England, and Hampton Court would continue to play an important part in the lives of the Tudor monarchs, although more as a country retreat than as a main royal palace, which may explain why so much of the original palace exists to this day.

It was during Elizabeth’s reign, that Hampton Court continued to welcome foreign delegations. It also remained a stage for court entertainments and, in particular, for dramatic performances and court masques.

After Elizabeth died without heir, King James VI of Scotland came south to become James I of England (ruled 1603-1625), Hampton Court's continuing importance in royal life was assured.

James was a keen huntsman and the palace provided excellent hunting in the park. James’s first English court took place at Hampton Court over the Christmas and New Year of 1603-4, and during his reign Hampton Court became more of a royal leisure centre and served as a venue for plays, dances, banquets and court masques and amongst the assembled guests was one William Shakespeare. He was booked as one of the newly liveried ‘King’s Men’ to produce his plays in front of a royal audience.

James’s queen, Anne, was at Hampton Court when she died in 1619.

Hampton Court served as both palace and prison for James’s son Charles I (ruled 1625-49). In the early part of his reign, he was a frequent visitor to the palace.

Though the King’s main residence was still in central London, at Whitehall, Charles revamped and updated parts of Hampton Court to ensure its continued popularity as a holiday season pleasure-palace, and a suitable venue for entertaining visiting dignitaries.

Charles built a new tennis court and also dug out the Longford River, which still brings water from 11 miles away to power the fountains of Hampton Court’s formal gardens.

Whilst Charles I indulged in personal luxury at Whitehall and Hampton Court palaces, he grew increasingly distant and hostile to his people, and in particular those who wanted a fairer system of democracy in Parliament. Until then, Parliament had very little say in the affairs of state, and by 1647 he was arrested by the Parliamentarians and later in 1649 he was executed after raising a mercenary army in Scotland which was later to be defeated the forces of Parliament. At that point Charles 1 was considered to be a traitor to the people of England and of course, the main reason for his execution. Earlier attempts to plead with the King to change his ways had failed. In short, a very selfish and arrogant ruler who met his end on the blade of an axe.

The Parliamentarians then decided to strip the royal palaces of their wealth and possessions, and drew up a list of items from Hampton Court to be sold or disposed of. An early victim was the Chapel Royal which was stripped of all it`s fine fittings. It was at this time that Oliver Cromwell (governed 1654-8) the Parliamentarian leader became Lord Protector, and used the facilities provided at Hampton Court at weekends. In fact, Cromwell`s daughter was married in the Chapel Royal.

By 1650, Charles`s son, Charles II was invited to return from exile to take the throne from the Parliamentarians. Although restored to office, Charles did not enjoy the absolute power of his father, and instead all major affairs of state were in the hands of the commoner`s at Parliament.

Charles`s tenure added a set of lodgings to the estate and these were built in an architectural baroque much favoured by his descendants, and this evolved style remained popular for state or important buildings right through into the early 19th century.

After Charles came Queen Anne, (ruled from 1702 - 14) and she used Hampton Court for her love of hunting. Anne much preferred Windsor Castle rather than Hampton Court as a royal residence, but when at Hampton Court she was able to use the now recently completed King`s Apartments, and consequently work on the unfinished Queen’s Apartments at Hampton Court (for the use of Anne’s consort, Prince George) proceeded slowly.

After Queen Anne`s death in 1714, the reigns of royal power were inherited by a distant cousin in Hanover, Germany, a man who was to become King George I (ruled 1714-27).

George was ill-suited for English life. He could not speak English, and preferred to spend more time in Germany rather than England, and his Queen never visited England. For a short period during 1718, George I held full court at Hampton Court, including assemblies and balls in the tennis court, Cartoon Gallery and Public Dining Room.

The Queen’s Apartments were finally completed under the direction of Sir John Vanbrugh.
Vanbrugh completed the formal circuit of royal apartments and fulfilled the vision of William and Mary and Sir Christopher Wren. Sumptuous furnishings from the cabinet-makers John Gumley and James Moore filled the rooms, and a new state bed lay under a painted ceiling by Sir James Thornhill.

Hampton Court Palace was little used for a decade after 1718, until the death of George I in 1727. 

In July 1737 George`s son, Prince Frederick took his wife – Augusta of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg – away from Hampton Court to London in the middle of the night, where she gave birth to a short-lived daughter.
Frederick’s defiance of the King and Queen Caroline led to his dismissal from St James’s Palace in London. Queen Caroline died a few months following the episode, and the King never visited the palace again with his full court.   

However, after him came his son and daughter, King George II (ruled 1727 – 1760) and Queen Caroline (ruled 1768 – 1821) who who delighted in the display and magnificence of a royal court.

Finally, the completed King’s and Queen’s Apartments played host to a full gathering of the royal family and royal court. The final embellishment of the palace state apartments was the completion of the Queen’s Staircase by William Kent.

Queen Caroline also covered up the racy images in the Queen’s Drawing Room with Mantegna’s Triumphs of Caesar.

George II’s reign also produced the last rooms at Hampton Court built for any member of the royal family. He had new lodgings made on the east side of Clock Court in 1732 for his second son, the Duke of Cumberland. These rooms, today known as the Cumberland Suite, were also designed by William Kent and built at a cost of £3,454.After George III (r 1760-1820) decided not to live there, there was debate as to the future of the palace’s thousands of rooms.

From the 1760s onwards, the palace was divided up for ‘grace-and-favour’ residents who were granted rent-free accommodation because they had given great service to the Crown or country. 
They lived, often with their own small households of servants above, underneath and around the state apartments.

In 1838, the young Queen Victoria (r 1837-1901) ordered that Hampton Court Palace ‘should be thrown open to all her subjects without restriction.’


Officially (according to the Hampton Court website), the palace is haunted by:

Catherine Howard - The screaming lady in the Haunted Gallery

She is believed to frequent Hampton Court’s Haunted Gallery where she was dragged back screaming to her rooms while under house arrest, accused of committing adultery by her husband King Henry VIII.

Sybil Penn - The Grey Lady of Hampton Court Palace

Sightings of Dame Sybil Penn, servant to four Tudor monarchs, began around 1829 when the church at nearby Hampton was rebuilt and her impressive tomb moved.
Dame Sybil – otherwise known as the ‘Grey Lady’ – has reputedly haunted several parts of the palace including the state apartments and Clock Court.

Skeletor - The famed CCTV ghost

In 2003 security staff at 16th-century Hampton Court Palace heard alarms ringing near an exhibition hall indicating that fire doors had been opened, but found the doors closed. Mystified, they examined CCTV footage and were astonished when the cameras showed the heavy doors opening, apparently of their own volition.

Suddenly, a figure wearing a long coat appeared and proceeded to pull the doors shut. The identity of this figure, which was nicknamed Skeletor, became the subject of intense debate with some even claiming it might be the ghost of one of Hampton Court’s most famous former residents, Henry VIII. Britain has many haunted locations and this Hallowe’en should you find yourself in the wrong place at the right time, or the right place at the wrong time, you might well manage to capture a ghost on film.

For me, Hampton Court Palace is perhaps one of the most visited but less is known of it`s ghostly residents than some other royal palaces. And uniquely, one that has never been properly investigated. Trevor was very lucky in capturing this presence, which probably happened as the area was devoid of other visitors.
Without doubt, spiritual presences do not enjoy large audiences which also might explain why so few incidents have been recorded here. A proper investigation of this 1,000 roomed palace might reveal much more. But that is not likely to happen soon.
Why not check out the photographers own website at Middlesborough Paranormal 
Here is a video presented by a warder on the haunted legends of Hampton Court Palace.

Story: Chris Halton

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