My Hampton Court Ghost Encounter
November 2005


     As I was saying earlier today, if perhaps wanting to
see a ghost makes one a prime candidate for actually
seeing one, then there is absolutely no reason I
shouldn’t have seen one at age two. As it happened, I
was twenty-six at the age of my first real sighting.
Mind you, I’d had eerie feelings and premonitions
galore from the age of roughly fourteen on. But the
actual visual didn’t come in to play until my most
recent trip to Hampton Court Palace.

      Since I was twenty-something younger than six-ish,
every November, or occasionally in October, my parents
and I have rented an apartment in Hampton
Court. Insanity! I know!! But we do!

     When my mom first got wind of this “renting an
apartment at Hampton Court” thing, via a letter to the
editor of the Los Angeles times travel section, she
scoffed. And why wouldn’t she? It wasn’t until
years later that, with the aid of an internet
connection, she realized that one could in fact rent a
very large and well appointed apartment inside the
Tudor palace.

        I still think it's insanity. Every November I'm shocked to the core that I'm allowed to wander HCP's glowing red courtyards at night. These are prime ghost hunting grounds. I’ve yet to see a TLC or History Channel special on “Most Haunted Places!” that doesn’t include reference to Hampton Court . Henry VIII lived here with all six of his wives. I’m fairly certain no other palace or castle or inn has that distinction. The number of things, eerie twisted things, that have taken place in these courtyards and rooms is staggering. If there are ghosts, they are here.
     And with this in mind, on our 2003 trip when I was twenty-four, I decided to hang around Master Carpenter’s Court on my own at around midnight . My dad’s camera batteries had died (not some morbid pun,a fairly common occurrence. I can’t wait for the day when rechargeable camera batteries are built to last through a day’s sightseeing and photo taking.).

     My dad, being afraid to go back up to the apartment on his own, insisted that my mother accompany him on his trip to grab spare batteries. And I, being very much afraid but also seeing an opportunity to meet a ghost outright, insisted on staying behind. On my own. In Master Carpenter’s Court. At a very late hour. And fortified with a few pints from the local pub.

     I saw nothing. Aside from a few gnats buzzing near a lantern that could, at first glance, be mistaken for some kind of figure or form . . . no, really, who am I kidding? I saw nothing. And I was sorely disappointed.

     On our next trip, in 2004, I arrived at HCP several hours before my parents. I made a run to buy groceries, another run to buy drinks and then settled in to wait for their arrival from Paris . I fell asleep on the sofa of the front room of our HCP apartment and again, awoke to find nothing. Our front door did swing open at one point during my nap, but I will, in the interest of science, attribute that purely to wind. And to me not bolting the door properly.
     On the subsequent trip, however, I most definitely and without a doubt did in fact SEE something. I’d advise disbelievers now to take a look at my track record. I’m not one to cry “ghost!” at the faintest suggestion of a noise or speck of dust flying before a light (no matter how much I would like to). Even the incident with the front door of our apartment I will easily attribute to wind or an error on my own part. But this was different. This I saw.......................
     I walked from the Queen’s Presence Chamber into the Queen’s Guard Chamber with Patrick and my family and my friend Jessica. I noted, as one does, who was in front of me, and who was behind me. This is basic human instinct, this whole thing of knowing your surroundings. Through the doorway, I clocked Patrick leading the group, my mom and Jessica close behind him and my dad behind me. I remember looking up at the wall adorned with swords and axes and guns; the tools of the Queen’s Guard. Then looking down to see before me Patrick, my mom, Jessica and . . . .my dad.
     I immediately spun around towards the direction from which we came. There was nothing. Whatever it had been was gone. But I can say with absolute certainty that the figure of a man, about my dad’s build, had followed me into the room. I was the last person of the five of us to enter. But all the while, in that basic human way that we do, I knew there was someone behind me.
     Needless to say I spent the remainder of the trip running off to lurk in dark corners hoping to catch some apparition unawares, but to no avail. I’m starting to think that the trick is in not looking. I’ll keep that well in mind this coming November