LONDON - 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 Christmas cheer?
Closed-circuit security cameras at Hampton Court Palace, the huge Tudor
castle outside London, seem to have snagged an ethereal visitor. Could it be a
"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
Wood said security guards had seen the figure in closed-circuit television
footage after checking it to see who kept leaving one of the palace's fire
In the still photograph, the figure of a man in a robe-like garment is
shown stepping from a shadowy doorway, one arm reaching out for the door
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,"
The palace, built in the early 1500s on the River Thames about 10 miles
west of central London, is a popular tourist attraction, and some of the
guides wear costumes from 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 royal events, and 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 named Sibell Penn who was buried on the palace
grounds in 1562. Her tomb was disturbed in the 1820s by building work, and
about the same time an odd whirring noise began to be heard in the southwest
wing of the palace. When workers 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, was condemned for adultery and held
at the palace before her execution at the Tower of London. A book about the
palace published in 1897 says her ghost was seen, dressed in white and
floating down one of the galleries uttering unearthly shrieks.
Ghostlike figure caught on tape at palace
Hampton Court officials say image is 'unnerving'
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