Friday, February 23, 2007

[ghosts] and things that go bump in the night

On Dec. 19, 2003, a costumed figure stood in a doorway at Hampton Court Palace and this image was caught on closed circuit television and released by the Palace some days later.

“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 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.

“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.

A live vote was then taken by the BBC on what people thought it was, which received 38504 responses:

A prank being played on unsuspecting authorities. 29%
A publicity hoax ... and the authorities know it. 22%
A truly supernatural happening. 41%
None of the above. 8%

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 palace. 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.

[This is another article from the pre-blogging days - can't be attributed, unfortunately. Probably BBC.]


Matt M said...

I think I have to go with the hoax angle: if "spirits" were that clear on CCTV then you'd expect more images not just from that location, but from around the rest of the country as well - we do have the highest proportion of CCTV cameras to people in the world, or something like that, after all.

james higham said...

Ah yes, Matt, me ole son but this ere's a special 'ampton Court ghost I should think.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

A scarey one to go to bed on! - But also interesting- thank you. I'll ponder on this rather than counting men in my life - or out of it - to be more accurate, tonight.

The Tin Drummer said...

I've taken 3 school trips there and at least twice someone has not felt great in the gallery Catherine Howard is reputed to haunt: whether there's anything to that apart from my teaching, I don't know.