THERE has been talk recently about charging admission to Hampton Court, the magnificent castle built by the son of a butcher from Ipswich, Cardinal Wolsey. His indigestion was so bad that he obtained a dispensation from the Pope to eat meat in Lent.
I would have to be paid a handsome sum to sleep overnight in Hampton Court. In the dead of night it is said the screams of the ghost of Catherine Howard can be heard in the "haunted gallery". Confined to her room before being sent to the Tower, it is said that she escaped from her guards and ran to the royal chapel where Henry VIII was hearing Mass. The guards seized her at the very door of the chapel, and her piercing shrieks were heard all over the palace. Cranmer had "shopped" her, and in due course extracted a "confession" from her, and from Hampton Court she was removed, under escort, to Syon House, thence to the tower, and the scaffold. She had the privilege of having her head struck off by a sword rather than an axe.
Henry spent his sixth honeymoon, with Catherine Parr, at Hampton Court. Henry was gross and enormous and diseased, and these factors, plus an ulcerous leg, meant that in his declining years he had to be helped from room to room in the palace by machinery. Before the end, he left Hampton Court for Westminster Palace, and died there in 1546. According to some historians his last words were "All is lost!" His daughter's death bed became so hot that the Virgin Queen had to die on the floor.
Jane Seymour died in Hampton Court after giving birth to Edward VI. She had moved into the palace and supplanted Anne Boleyn in the affections of Henry VIII. The Ghost of Queen Jane, clothed in white, has been seen floating through the doorway of the original entrance to Catherine of Aragon's apartments.
Strangest of all the ghosts of Hampton Court is that of Prince Edward's nurse, Mistress Sibell Penn. She died of smallpox in 1562, and was buried in Hampton Church. When the church was pulled down in 1829, her tomb disturbed, and her remains scattered, she showed her displeasure by appearing in her old apartments in the southwest of the palace. A tall gaunt figure in a long grey robe, she haunted the room in which she had once worked, and it resounded to the sound of ghostly mutterings and the whirr of a spinning wheel.