Palace 'ghost' caught on
12/19/03 - CNN
LONDON, England (AP) --Are
there ghostly goings-on at Henry VIII's palace, or is that
hazy image of a fellow in fancy robes just a bit of
cameras at Hampton Court Palace, the huge Tudor castle
outside London, seem to have snagged an ethereal visitor.
Could it be a ghost?
"We're baffled too --
it's not a joke, we haven't manufactured it," said
Vikki Wood, a Hampton Court spokeswoman, when asked if the
photo the palace released was a Christmas hoax. "We
genuinely don't know who it is or what it is."
Wood said security guards
had seen the figure in closed-circuit television footage
after checking it to see who kept leaving open one of the
palace's fire doors.
In the still photograph,
the figure of a man in a robe-like garment is shown
stepping from the shadowy doorway, one arm reaching out
for the door handle.
The area around the man is
somewhat blurred, and his face appears unnaturally white
compared with his outstretched hand.
"It was incredibly
spooky because the face just didn't look human," said
James Faukes, one of the palace security guards.
"My first reaction was
that someone was having a laugh, so I asked my colleagues
to take a look. We spoke to our costumed guides, but they
don't own a costume like that worn by the figure. It is
actually quite unnerving," Faukes said.
The palace, built in 1525
on the River Thames 10 miles west of central London, is a
popular tourist attraction and some of the guides wear
costumes of the Tudor period.
Wood said she was hoping
people would come forward with similar stories and try to
explain the figure.
The palace has been the
scene of many dramatic royal events, and already is
supposed to have a few ghosts.
King Henry VIII's third
wife, Jane Seymour, died there giving birth to a son, and
her ghost is said to walk through one of the cobbled
courtyards carrying a candle.
Her son, Edward, had a
nurse called Sibell Penn who was buried in the palace
grounds in 1562. In 1829 her tomb was disturbed by
building work, and around the same time an odd whirring
noise began to be heard in the southwest wing of the
When workmen traced the
strange sounds to a brick wall, they uncovered a small
forgotten room containing an old spinning wheel, just like
the one Penn used to use.
Henry's fifth wife,
Catherine Howard, condemned for adultery, was held at the
palace under house arrest before her execution at the
Tower of London. An 1897 book about the palace says she
was reportedly seen, dressed in white and floating down
one of the galleries uttering unearthly shrieks.
The palace was once a
prison for King Charles I, who later was beheaded, and
then home to his nemesis Oliver Cromwell, who briefly
ruled when Britain was for a short time a republic.