The Haunting of Hampton Court


Hampton Court around 1800
A favorite haunt since Elizabethan times, Hampton Court is host to its own Christmas ghost.

Down in London town, where the richer sort are known to cavort, lie the venerable halls of Hampton Court Palace.

Hampton Court actually started as a grange—or barn—for the Knights of St. John, otherwise known as the Knights Hospitallers. It was this order that, most famously, would give the Holy Roman Emperor a falcon every year–The Maltese Falcon. But that Medieval structure was replaced in Tudor times by Hampton Court, which itself has been added to and rebuilt many times over the centuries. The one constant about the grand building that all agree on is that it is most seriously haunted.

After various and sundry changes, it eventually became the palace of the famous cleric turned politician, Cardinal Wolsey. Cardinal Wolsey gifted the palace to Henry. But the cleric evidently liked the palace so much he continues to hang about, long after his demise. Over the centuries Wolsey has been sighted  under one of the archways. His last documented appearance was in 1966 sighting by an audience member attending a show at the palace.

Cardinal Wolsey gave the palace to Henry VIII who returned his loyalty with charges of treason. Wolsey still haunts the grounds of Hampton Palace and may be one of several Christmas spirits there.


Today, Hampton Court is one of the many notable tourist attractions London has to offer. But when visitors aren’t looking, strange things happen at Hampton.

Especially around Yuletide, security guards at the palace will find doors, which have been closed firmly, strangely open but a short time later.

Finally, one Christmas, the cause of the strange occurrences was discovered. On closed circuit security cameras the heavy palace doors can be seen flying open. It happened one Christmas on three consecutive nights.

At first nothing is seen on screen, but soon the spooky cause appeared. A robed figure, materializing out of nowhere, was seen pulling the doors shut again.

Henry VIII
Henry VIII wived It merrily at Hampton Court– and perhaps his lusty ghost still haunts it at Yuletide.

Who the Christmas ghost or ghosts may be is not known; some say it may be Cardinal Wolsey, others Henry VIII himself. Still other former denizens of its haunted halls have been suggested.

Henry’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard, was arrested in a hallway of the palace on suspicion of adultery.

It is said she broke away from her captors in an attempt to plead with her husband for mercy. But mercy was not to be had from her vindictive and suspicious spouse. Ever since, her arrest and execution, that part of the palace has been called “The Haunted Gallery.”

Catherine-Howard Henry VIII fifth wife
Lady Catherine Howard, Henry’s “Rose with no thorns” finally fell afoul of her husband’s lousy a caption

Visitors will feel a chill or have other odd sensations in the hallway.

On separate occasions women have fainted away on entering the passageway.

On another occasion, two American women became hysterical, escorted out of the hall screaming in terror, claiming to have seen the apparition of a headless woman in a dark gown walking down the Queen’s Gallery towards them.

Other parts of the palace are associated with other phenomena–and other ghosts. The Queen’s Staircase, which has had a number of reports of being haunted, is believed to be the abode of Lady Jane Seymour, Henry’s third wife.

At one time a professor of psychology was brought in to try to “debunk” all the sightings, charting all the sightings by location and observer’s beliefs. Yet despite the best attempts of the professional debunkers, no one has yet explained away the presence of the Christmas ghosts in Hampton Court.

For more haunting tales told for true, read Dixie Spirits and Strange Tales of the Dark and Bloody Ground.

Dixie Spirits, A compendium of strange, uncanny events of the South.
Strange Tales of the Dark & Bloody Ground 39kb
Strange Tales of the Dark and Bloody Ground chronicles true stories of unexplained phenomena in the Mid South.