You are at the top of the page

Skip to content or footer

Start of main content

Historic hauntings at Hampton Court Palace

A screaming queen, a grey lady and a man in a mask – meet our famous phantoms!

A screaming queen, a grey lady and a man in a mask – meet our famous phantoms!

We all love a good ghost story. But nobody knew better than the Victorians that terror sells tickets.

In the early 20th century, the darker episodes of palace history were retold for enjoyable chills, and ghostly legends grew until visitors expected an ectoplasmic encounter around every corner.

But is there more to the faked-up photos and spooky sightings than we like to think?

An early postcard depicting a 'ghost' in the Horn Room.
The ghost is that of King Henry VIII's fifth wife, Catherine Howard. Charged with adultery, the young queen was placed under house arrest at Hampton Court. The story goes that she managed to escape from her rooms and run to the Chapel where the King was at Mass. Before she was able to reach him, she was seized by the guards and dragged screaming back to her rooms. It is said that her ghost still haunts the palace today.

Restless royals

The best-selling postcards at Hampton Court in the early 1900s were of spectres in historic spaces, with these faked up double exposed photographs offered as spine-tingling ‘proof’.

Stories persist today that at least two of Henry VIII’s wives haunt Hampton Court Palace: his beloved third wife Jane Seymour who died after giving birth in 1537 and most famously, his fifth wife Catherine Howard, executed for adultery in 1542.

Image: This typical early 20th-century postcard claims to reveal poor Queen Catherine, ‘captured’ on film in the Horn Room at the palace

Illustration of Jane Seymour (c1508-37), King Henry VIII's third wife and mother of King Edward VI.

The Spectre of Silverstick Stairs

A sad white wraith carrying a lighted taper is said to be Henry VIII’s third wife, Jane Seymour. Jane died from post-birth complications at Hampton Court, only a few days after delivering Henry’s longed-for son, Prince Edward. While delighted with his male heir the King was devastated at the sudden loss of his ‘perfect’ queen.

A pale figure is reported to appear on the Silverstick Stairs, which once led up to a room in which Jane gave birth, and died, on the anniversary of Edward’s birth in October 1537.

Image:  Jane Seymour, the only one of Henry’s six wives to lie beside him in the royal tomb at Windsor Castle

The Haunted Gallery.

The Screaming Queen

The ghost of Catherine Howard, Henry VIII's fifth wife, is reportedly far more vocal than Jane Seymour's and her the sightings more regularly reported.  

Catherine was beheaded at the Tower of London in 1542, aged 19, for adultery and treason. It is claimed that after she was arrested at Hampton Court, the terrified teenager broke free of her guards. She ran along what is now called the Haunted Gallery, screaming out to the King for mercy.

She never reached Henry, who was at prayer in the Chapel. Guards dragged her away and she never saw Henry again. It is said that her anguished ghost now repeats this heartbreaking journey, screaming through eternity.

Image: Hampton Court Palace. The Haunted Gallery

Take a look around the Haunted Gallery on our 360-degree image, created in partnership with Google Arts & Culture.


Henry VIII

Who was the real Henry VIII?

Anne of Cleves

Henry VIII's wife number four, but so much more

Katherine Parr

The remarkable life of Henry VIII’s last Queen


  • Things to see

Hampton Court Gardens

Take time to explore and relax in these world-renowned gardens and find our free entry Garden Open Days dates.

  • Open in line with palace opening hours.
  • Hampton Court Palace
  • Included in palace admission (members go free)
Learn more
  • Things to see

The Tudor World in the Wolsey Rooms

Discover the oldest rooms at Hampton Court Palace and meet the ordinary men and women who enabled the Tudor court to exist and flourish.

  • Open
  • In line with palace opening hours
  • Hampton Court Palace
  • Included in palace admission (members go free)
Learn more
  • Things to see

Henry VIII's Kitchens

Transport yourself back to the heyday of Tudor feasting and entertainment in Henry VIII's Kitchens at Hampton Court Palace.

  • Open
  • Hampton Court Palace
  • Included in palace admission (members go free)
Learn more

Shop online

Shop Tudor gifts

Browse through our Tudor Collection to find a whole range of products based on the Tudors.

From £3.00

Elizabeth's Women by Tracy Borman

Discover the world of Elizabeth I with this insightful look at Elizabeth's relationship with woman and how they helped to shape her into a remarkable monarch. This thrilling book explores the lesser known side of Elizabeth I who is often portrayed as a ruthless 'man's woman'.


Henry VIII gauntlet armour oven glove

This fun oven glove has been inspired by a suit of armour made for Henry VIII in 1540, which is on display at the Tower of London.