Wednesday 21 October
9 April 2021. Following the death of His Royal Highness, there will be changes to opening hours for the gardens at Hampton Court Palace and Hillsborough Castle. For further information, please read our FAQs page
With 500 years of spine-tingling stories to discover, will you leave a believer?
Self-guided Creepy Stories and Ghostly Encounters trail and Kitchen Garden carved pumpkin display from 24 October
Long reputed to be one of Britain’s most haunted buildings, Hampton Court Palace has borne witness to 500 years of drama, danger…and death. Now, from 24 October, an all-new trail promises to uncover the tales of history’s most famous ghostly goings-on.
Packed with spine-tingling stories, this self-guided tour from Historic Royal Palaces – the independent charity which cares for Hampton Court Palace - takes in the sites where centuries of unlucky courtiers, staff and visitors have encountered this legendary building’s supernatural past. Stand in the very spot where the ‘Grey Lady’ has appeared since Victorian times, and discover the story behind her spectral sightings. Said to be the ghost of a Tudor nursemaid, the apparition was even documented by former resident Princess Frederica of Hanover, being described as ‘a tall, gaunt figure, dressed in a long grey robe, with a hood on her head and her lanky hands outstretched before her’. However, the Grey Lady isn’t alone in roaming the palace after dark for a child to care for…
Jane Seymour – Henry VIII’s beloved third wife – gave birth to a long-awaited son at Hampton Court, before dying just days later. Her heartbroken soul is said to float down the staircase from her bedchamber and out into the courtyard beyond, searching for her baby. In the neighbouring Tudor State Apartments, the ghost of another of Henry’s queens has been sighted for over a century. Following her arrest for treason at the palace, fifth wife Catherine Howard is said to have broken free from her guards and run screaming towards the Chapel Royal, where Henry was at prayer, hoping to plead for her life. She was apprehended before she reached the king and was swiftly removed to the Tower of London to await her execution. Her soul is said to linger in the space - now known as the Haunted Gallery -, doomed to repeat this tragic episode forevermore.
Fast forward almost 500 years, and follow the trail to uncover an altogether more eerie mystery. In October 2003, a new exhibition opened in the rooms behind the Clock Court Colonnade. One night, security staff went to investigate a triggered fire door alarm after hours. They found the fire doors wide open but nobody there. The next day, the alarm went off again, but this time the doors were found closed. CCTV showed the door opening, then being slammed shut by a mysterious and grainy robed figure just before the security staff had got there! Now known as ‘Skeletor’, who or what was behind this most puzzling of nocturnal nightmares? Take the trail to find out more…
If all that’s got the heart rate pumping, why not take a stroll through Hampton Court Palace’s Royal Kitchen Garden, where a display of fiendishly carved pumpkins provides the perfect backdrop for a photo of your visit…
Notes to Editors
For more information about things that go bump in the night at Hampton Court Palace, please contact Adam Budhram in the Historic Royal Palaces Press Office: [email protected].
Online booking essential via www.hrp.org.uk/Hampton-Court-Palace
Historic Royal Palaces is the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle and Gardens. We help everyone explore the story of how monarchs and people have shaped society, in some of the greatest palaces ever built. We raise all our own funds and depend on the support of our visitors, members, donors, sponsors and volunteers. With the exception of Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, these palaces are owned by The Queen on behalf of the nation, and we manage them for the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Historic Royal Palaces cares for Hillsborough Castle and Gardens under a separate contract with the Northern Ireland Office. Registered charity number 1068852. For more information visit www.hrp.org.uk