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Haunted Gallery and Processional Route

Walk Henry VIII’s route from his private apartments to the Chapel Royal — now lined with 16th century paintings including portraits of Tudor monarchs — and see the infamous Haunted Gallery in the State Apartments at Hampton Court Palace.

Experience the Haunted Gallery

In 1541, Catherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth queen, discovered that she was to be charged with adultery. Only a few years earlier, her cousin and Henry's second queen, Anne Boleyn, had been executed after similar accusations had been made.

Legend has it that Catherine, terrified and desperate, broke free from her guards stationed outside her rooms at Hampton Court Palace and ran along the processional route in the hope of finding Henry in the Chapel, to plead her innocence.

Just before Catherine reached the door, she was seized by guards who took her screaming back to her rooms.

Catherine was executed at the Tower of London just three months later; her body still lies in the Chapel Royal of St Peter Ad Vincula, within the Tower walls.

Catherine’s ghost can, allegedly, be seen running through what is now called the Haunted Gallery at Hampton Court Palace, wailing for mercy.

The Processional Route and Tudor portraits

Henry VIII's 'Coming Forth' from his private apartments to the Chapel, on Sundays and special holy days, became the principal occasion when the King made himself available to his wider court.

Today, the route is lined with 16th century paintings including portraits of Henry and his family.



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Highlights of the Processional Route

The Family of Henry VIII

'The Family of Henry VIII' is an extraordinary dynastic portrait of Henry VIII and his family. The painting shows the King at the centre, flanked by Jane Seymour, his third wife, and their son, Prince Edward (later Edward VI).

To either side of Henry’s canopy of state are his two daughters, who would later become Mary I and Elizabeth I. In the background, it is believed that we can also see two of the court 'fools', Will Somers and Jane, rare portraits of two Tudor servants.

The painting is also remarkable because it depicts an imaginary scene; Jane Seymour had died shortly after giving birth to Edward, eight years before the portrait was painted.

Henry VIII sits under a canopy of state surrounded by Prince Edward, Jane Seymour, Princess Mary and Princess Elizabeth.

Image: Portrait of The Family of Henry VIII c. 1545. Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018

Within a richly decorated Renaissance interior, Henry VII (1457-1509) and his son Henry VIII (1491-1547) stand to the left of a central sarcophagus inscribed with Latin verses celebrating the Tudor dynasty; their queens, Elizabeth of York (1465-1503) and Jane Seymour (1509-1537) stand on the other side.

Image: Henry VII, Elizabeth of York, Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, dated 1667. Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 2024

Henry VII, Elizabeth of York, Henry VIII and Jane Seymour

Henry VIII's court artist Hans Holbein immortalised the King in his portraiture. At Whitehall Palace, he painted a life-size mural of Henry, together with his father Henry VII and their queens.

The original mural was destroyed by the fire that burnt down Whitehall in 1698. Only later (much smaller) copies survived; this one, which was painted for Charles II, is the only surviving complete record of the mural.

The first part of the Latin inscription on the plinth in the centre of the mural translates, "If it please you to see the illustrious images of heroes, look on these: no picture ever bore greater"!

Portrait of William Reskimer gently twisting hands, seated again the background of vines. The painting shows Reskimer against a background of vines, with his right hand in an awkwardly cupped position in front of his long red beard.

Image: Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 2024

William Reskimer

Holbein’s paintings of Henry VIII’s courtiers are some of the most realistic and powerful portraits of the 16th century. This is William Reskimer, who came from Cornwall and rose through the ranks of Henry’s elite servants to become a ‘Gentleman Usher’ in 1546. Holbein probably painted him in the 1530s. Men like Reskimer were the oil that enabled the smooth running of Henry VIII’s court.

Portrait painted full-length of a man dressed in bright red Tudor clothes, silhouetted against an apparently imaginary landscape with the suggestion of buildings and ruins on the left and curious rock formations on the right.

Image: Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 2024 

Portrait of a Man in Red

This portrait is a mystery. We do not know who painted it, or who the subject might be. But it is nonetheless a wonderfully confident portrait of a dashing and wealthy young man of the 1530s or 40s. Full-length portraits of men or women wearing one bright colour in a landscape are rare in the 16th century.

The man’s pose is all about power and success, from his extraordinarily stylish costume to the sword and dagger hanging from his belt.

Portrait of Elizabeth of York, Henry VII's wife. She is shown in head and shoulders view, holding a white rose in her hands and wearing a ‘gable-hood’.

Image: Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III 2024 

Elizabeth of York

Very little survives from Henry VIII’s own collection of paintings, but this is one of the exceptions. This is a portrait of Henry’s mother, Elizabeth of York. Elizabeth’s marriage to Henry VII created the Tudor dynasty whose symbol was the Tudor rose, combining the red rose of Lancaster and the white rose of York, shown here.


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Great Hall

Experience the splendour of the Tudor court in Henry VIII's Great Hall, complete with his magnificent tapestries.

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  • Hampton Court Palace
  • Included in palace admission (members go free)
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Wolsey Closet

Explore this hidden Tudor space that is thought to be the only surviving room of Cardinal Wolsey's apartments.

  • Open
  • In line with palace opening hours
  • Hampton Court Palace
  • Included in palace admission (members go free)
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Henry VIII's Kitchens

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

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  • Hampton Court Palace
  • Included in palace admission (members go free)
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Henry VIII, Terrible Tudor?

Who was the real Henry VIII?

Catherine Howard

A young woman whose marriage to Henry VIII would end in tragedy

Jane Seymour

Henry VIII's third and favourite wife

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