The presence of ghosts in the castle became a somewhat of standard of quality these days, every decent castle is obliged to have at least one. In the list of English haunted castles Hampton Court Palace is definitely somewhere on the top as it is said to be haunted by quite a few spooks. One of the palace’s most popular ghost story is linked with Henry VIII (who could doubt it) and his flighty 5th wife Catherine Howard. Unlikely that Henry himself found anything shameful in having love affairs with his court ladies, but he flew into a fury when he knew about his other half’s fling with one of his favourites Thomas Culpepper. The emerged stories about Catherine’s carryings-on before she got married the king, obligingly reported to him, only added fuel onto the fire. Having had charged with treason the youthful Henry’s “rose without thorns” was about to repeat the scenario with out a happy ending of her cousin Anne Boleyn, but she believed that if she saw her husband and talked to him she would rectify the whole situation. It was aggravated by that she was held captive in her rooms as well as Henry VIII’s ego was wounded and therefore he was not itching to see his wife. Anyway the legend says that Catherine Howard somehow managed to escape the guard and dashed through the maze of Hampton Court Palace rooms and corridors toward the Chapel Royal, where the king was industriously praying, probably trying to stop talking his guilty conscience. The young queen did not make it to the chapel, having been stopped in one of the building’s galleries, which later would be dubbed the Haunted Gallery for that Catherine Howard’s ghost has been spotted there many times.
A lot of old castles and residences have “Grey Lady” ghost, so Hampton Court Palace is not the exception and also has its own one. Though in her time she was better known as Dame Sybil Penn whose main duty was to bring up the juvenile heir of Henry VIII. She went on living at Hampton Court after the death of Edward VI, having outlived his sister Mary I as well and when Elizabeth I acceded to the throne Sybil Penn became the Lady of her Bed Chamber. Five years later the queen fell ill with smallpox and Edward’s former foster mother was then nursing her through the disease. The devoted servant got infected but did not recuperate. Her woebegone wraith did not show up straight after that, freaking out the Tudor doctors for poor medical treatment, but almost 300 years afterwards, when the tomb with her remains was disturbed owing to a strike of lightening. The then “grace and favour” residents of Hampton Court Palace, who seemed to accommodate the once chambers of Dame Sybil Penn, suddenly started to complain of a whirring noise, having been uttered as if behind the walls. During the further investigation there was discovered a cubby-hole with an old spinning wheel in it, where this Tudor courtier was in all likelihood passing her long evenings by making the fabrics for providing Prince Edward with clothes.
There are people believing that whatever the ghosts, phantoms or apparitions are, we all are able to sense their energy or to get their message, and that only our doubts, fears and mental preconceptions block us from this experience. So who knows, maybe next time when you visit Hampton Court Palace or any other places with open mind, you will see or feel someone’s traces from older times and different dimensions.
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