Hampton Court Palace ghost stories

Hampton Court Palace is often considered to be one of the most haunted buildings in the country. For hundreds of years people have told stories of unexplained sounds, strange smells and ghostly sightings throughout the palace. Below we list our four favorite Hampton Court Palace ghost stories, including the mysterious sound of a spinning wheel and ghostly figure caught on CCTV.

Skeletor

On three consecutive nights in the winter of 2003, Hampton Court Palace security staff were alerted to the opening of a fire door, the same door near Clock Court.

On all three nights the CCTV footage clearly showed the fire doors opening with great force. However, on the second night a ghostly looking figure in period dress appeared in the doorway, reached out and closed the doors.

It wasn’t just the security staff that had witnessed this ghostly figure. On the second day, the same day as the recording, a visitor had left a comment in the visitor book detailing her sighting of a spectral figure in the same area.

The ghost of Skeletor at Hampton Court Palace
The ghost of Skeletor at Hampton Court Palace

The Grey Lady, Sybil Penn

Reported sighting of the Grey Lady at Hampton Court Palace started in 1829 when the tomb of Sybil Penn, the nurse of Prince Edward, was desecrated and her remains scattered. The first of these stories comes from the Ponsonby family who were living at Hampton Court at the time. They complained about being disturbed by the whirr of a spinning wheel from behind the wall of their apartment. Legend has it that a small sealed chamber was later discovered close to their apartment, containing none other than an old, much-used spinning wheel…

The ghost of Sybil Penn, the Grey Lady, at Hampton Court Palace
The ghost of Sybil Penn, the Grey Lady, at Hampton Court Palace

Catherine Howard

Anecdotal stories about the ghost of Catherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth wife, proliferated throughout the 450 years after her execution. These stories were so well known that by 1918, when the palace opened to the public, the space associated with Catherine’s story was already known as ‘The Haunted Gallery’.

To this day visitors report unexpected sights, sounds, smells and feelings as they cross the Haunted Gallery. In 1999, during separate tours of the palace, two female visitors fainted on exactly the same spot in the Haunted Gallery approximately half an hour apart.

The ghost of Catherine Howard in the Great Hall
The ghost of Catherine Howard in the Great Hall

Jane Seymour

The stories of Jane Seymour’s ghostly apparition, wandering through the palace and its cobbled courtyards carrying a lighted taper, reflect the tragedy which befell her at the palace. Jane died at Hampton Court in 1537, following complications after the birth of Edward, Henry VIII’s only son.

The ghost of Jane Seymour on the Silverstick Stairs at Hampton Court Palace
The ghost of Jane Seymour on the Silverstick Stairs

Explore these stories and more on a Ghost Tour at Hampton Court Palace. 

2 thoughts on “Hampton Court Palace ghost stories

  • When visiting HCP in 2006, my daughter heard the sounds of a coach and horses out in the courtyard but when she went and looked around the corner to see them, there was nothing there!

  • I was seventeen and touring Hampton Court with friends when suddenly I felt a chill which went right through me. I felt so peculiar that I had to sit down. My legs started to shake and a feeling of great sadness came across me.
    After a minute or so I was able to able to continue our visit. This happened outside the chapel and when we near the end of our visit we happened to hear the tour guide say That this was the day that Catherine Howard went to try and see the king pleading for her life.
    I am 70 years old now but can still recall this moment.

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