Hampton Court Palace, in Greater London, was originally to have been a grand residence for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, chief minister to Henry VIII. In 1528, Henry took over the palace after Wolsey fell from grace, and continued to expand it. The events that gave rise to its most memorable ghost story happened in 1541, when Catherine Howard, the fifth of Henry's six wives, tried to escape from house arrest at Hampton Court after being accused of having two affairs - both with men younger than the king.

Hampton Court Palace

Catherine knew the accusation of adultery was enough to have her executed; her only chance was to escape and plead for her life before Henry, who was at a service in the palace chapel. But as she attempted to do this she was caught by the palace guards in the gallery outside the chapel, and dragged screaming back to her apartments. The young queen was executed at the Tower of London within the year.

Catherine Howard

From Victorian times, strange phenomena have been reported in the gallery where these events unfolded, and it is now known as the Haunted Gallery. Sounds of screaming have been heard coming from the gallery; visitors have felt themselves being touched or even struck by unseen hands. Sudden temperature changes have been noticed there, and a shadowy figure has been seen running along the gallery.

The ghosts of Henry's second and third wives have also been seen at Hampton Court: Anne Boleyn's ghost wears blue or black, while Jane Seymour's ghost wears a white robe and carries a candle, appearing in the Silver Stick Gallery of the palace on the anniversary of the birth of her son, the future Edward VI, at Hampton Court in 1537.

Another palace ghost is associated with Edward VI: his nurse, Dame Sybil Penn, who lived and died at Hampton Court, worked for four Tudor monarchs and effectively gave up her life for them when she caught the smallpox that killed her as she nursed Elizabeth I through the illness in 1562.

In 1829, Sybil's tomb in St Mary's Church, Hampton, was disturbed when the church had to be rebuilt after storm damage, and mysterious noises and voices were suddenly heard behind a wall in the southwest wing of Hampton Court Palace. The wall was taken down, to reveal a room the palace staff did not know existed, containing an old spinning-wheel thought to have belonged to Sybil Penn. Her ghost, otherwise called the Grey Lady, has been seen in several areas of the palace and its grounds.

The CCTV still of 'Skeletor' at Hampton Court

It seemed that yet another unquiet spirit had made himself known in October 2003, when the palace's CCTV footage picked up a mysterious figure closing fire doors which had previously been seen opening on their own. His identity is unknown, but palace staff have nicknamed him Skeletor. No further sightings of him have been reported, but he has quickly become known as one of the many ghosts of Hampton Court.