one of the oldest ghosts & haunted places FREE sites on the web  since 1999
ghosts | haunted places | cemeteries | ghost stories
   - Updated      LIKE on FACEBOOK      links    Cams    Movies    articles

 

 

Haunted Hampton Court   

by Sarah Todd

Hampton Court Palace is one of the most famous historical palaces in Britain. Situated on the River Thames in the village of East Mosely in Surrey it was one of King Henry VIII's most favourite palaces. It seems to have been his "party place" - he did a lot of entertaining there. However his stays appear to have been short ones - during the 38 years he reigned as king he spent just 811 days there.

In June 2005 I visited the palace with Terry, who is acquainted with Hampton Court's gamekeeper, Les. Terry and Les are old friends, and Les has worked at Hampton Court Palace since he was 16 years old. He's now in his fifties, and he has been honoured by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to the Crown in September. And he was able to tell us things about the Palace not necessarily known to most members of the public. He also told us some of his own personal experiences during his tenure at Hampton Court Place, and they were very interesting!

Today the only residents of Hampton Court Palace are those who work there - like Les and his wife. At one time it was used by "grace-and-favour" residents, i.e people who were granted rent-free accommodation "by the Grace and Favour of the Sovereign". These were usually people or their dependants who had given great service to the Crown or the country. There are still a few "grace-and-favour" residents in occupation at Hampton Court Palace today.

 

 

Our first stop was the kitchens. They are massive, and they needed to be, because Henry's entourage of 1,300 courtiers travelled everywhere with him. Imagine feeding and housing that amount of people when appliances like dishwashers, microwaves and tumble dryers were even more of a pipe dream than electricity! In the kitchens there were a couple of chefs at work. One was preparing a typical meal from Henry's Tudor period exactly the way it would have been prepared in the years of his reign - 1509 to 1547.

That meant manually mincing the meat, grinding the spices and herbs by hand, picking the mushrooms from the woods and cooking on a wood fire. A large lump of beef was roasting on a spit being turned by two teenagers, and the juices from the meat dripped down into a roasting pan full of potatoes cooking on the embers. A second chef was preparing the same meal using products bought at the local supermarket branch of Tesco's - so everything was already minced, crushed and marinaded and was being cooked in a microwave or on a gas stove! At the end of our tour we went back into the kitchens to see if there was indeed any variance in the flavours - hoping to perhaps be offered a tiny taste. Apparently both tasted very similar, but both chefs said the main difference was the flavours from the traditionally cooked Tudor meal, which lasted longer than the modern day meal. Our mouths were watering as we looked at the slices of rare roast beef and Yorkshire pudding with crisp roast potatoes appetisingly arranged on a beautiful ceramic plate. Sadly, despite our very obvious hunger we didn't get offered any!

There's a beautiful Chapel at the place, and marriage ceremonies are still conducted there today. It features a blue ceiling decorated with gold stars and gold painted ornate ceramic figures. The dark wood panelling is beautifully carved, and lends an air of nobility to the Chapel. The King had his own entrance into the Chapel, and the ceiling and walls are covered in paintings of cherubs and nymphs floating around beautiful blue skies interspersed with water, lush green flora and sprightly fauns and deer. Sadly the Chapel, the King's and Queen's apartments, the Great Hall and a few associated rooms are all that remain of Henry VIII. William III and Mary II commissioned Sir Christopher Wren to rebuild Hampton Court Palace at the end of the 17th century. It's a shame, because the Tudor architecture is magnificent, rich and very regal. The rest of the court is impressive, but lacks the absolute "royalty" Henry's rooms so vividly demonstrate.

The rooms are filled with massive tapestries and paintings of various courtiers and hunting scenes. Some of the Queen's famous art collection is kept at the palace, but this is not on public display. All the palace rooms are huge, and there are fireplaces in almost every single one. There are more than 1,000 fireplaces in the whole palace, and the chimney's over the Tudor sections all feature different brick designs.

Being an old palace one would expect the residents to include a ghost or two, and we were not disappointed. Henry VIII's fifth wife Catherine Howard was imprisoned in her lodgings at the palace. She'd only been married to Henry for 15 months, and was sentenced to death for adultery. Before she was taken to the Tower of London to be executed the story goes that she escaped from her rooms and ran to the Chapel door where the King was attending a Church service. She wanted to beg him for her life, but as she reached the door guards seized her and dragged her screaming back to her rooms. People at the palace claim she ghost still runs screaming along the gallery leading to the Chapel door.

There are other ghosts that people have seen - Les claims not to have seen any but there are staff who have felt or seen "something". I went into a tiny room reputed to have held Henry's most famous wife Anne Boleyn before she was taken away to meet her executioner. It is located next to Henry's Great Hall, and it is said this was positioned there deliberately. Anne, alone and imprisoned in her tiny room could hear Henry and his Court wining and dining and getting up to all sorts of mischief while she sat alone and contemplated her fate...

The palace covers six acres, and the gardens take up a further 60 acres. The palace is situated on 600 acres, and is home to a herd of 300 deer, a variety of ducks and some very elegant swans. We went for a ride in a carriage along one of the waterways and visited the greenhouses. 30 gardeners take care of the gardens today - when the palace was used by royalty the number of gardeners exceeded 150! We visited the Fountain Court and the Clock Court, which is famous for the massive 24 hour clock positioned below the bell tower. Built in 1540 it is a water clock, and not only shows the correct time but also the date and the tide! There are many gardens, each unique and beautifully maintained.

Hampton Court Palace houses the oldest known grape vine in the world. Planted in 1768 it still produces grapes (regrettably, not the green seedless variety) and when we visited it there were over 1,000 bunches of grapes over the entire vine. Les' wife Jill is the official Keeper of the Vine. Visitors can observe the vine through a glass window, but because of our guide we were able to go inside the glass house that protects the vine. A tour party of about 30 people stared back at us through the glass - I guess that's the fishbowl experience we hear so much about. The Hampton Court Maze is the most famous maze in Britain, and I hate to admit that we got lost... twice! There were quite a few other people trying to solve the riddle of the maze, and they got as lost as we did! There are some sound effects in the maze - sheep "baaaing", gunshots and men and women's voices telling us: "Oh dear - lost again" or "I've taken a wrong turn!" certainly added to the experience.

During my tour of the palace I saw perhaps 25 percent of the whole place. Amazing, isn't it, that so many rooms lie empty and misused today when once they were full of people living their lives to the full? We saw some of the empty rooms, and most of them are bigger than a modern day bedsit! What a sad waste of space. But what a wonderful history!

 

About the Author

The writer was born in Africa, and lived there for the first 38 years of her life. She worked in the world of public relations for over five years, running her own PR company and dealing extensively with the world of journalism and the print media. She is an author on http://www.Writing.Com/, a site for Writers. Her blog can be visited at: http://www.writing.com/authors/zwisis/blog

2008

 

HOME 
GHOST SHOWS
ghost Hunters
ghost vids / pics
HAUNTED SHIPS
Ghost Stories
haunted Castles
GHOST Fiction

Ghost articles 
Haunted Places
Cemeteries
Ghost Cams 
haunted links
ghost Movies
Ghost Books
Ghostly Gifts

 

Clarity - it's worth it!

Copyright 2001 -  2017    All rights reserved.  Content is not to be copied,
extracted, or reproduced in any form.    
Privacy Policy

 

invisible hit counter