To the sceptic it may simply look like a fuzzy CCTV image of someone in a long coat walking through a doorway.
Experts say the long-coated figure could be the best proof yet found that things really do go bump in the night… and the day too.
The mystery surfaced two months ago at the 16th-century palace, once home to King Henry VIII.
Security staff heard alarms ringing near an exhibition hall, indicating fire doors had been opened. But on investigation they found the doors closed.
Perplexed, they examined CCTV footage, and that is when it got spooky.
The cameras showed the heavy doors popping open but no one there. Then, suddenly, the long- coated figure appeared and slammed the doors shut.
The guards were told the same thing happened at the same time – about 1pm – the day before.
To add to the mystery, the doors also flew open at the same time the very next day. But the ghostly figure has been spotted only once.
The suspected spook has not just been sighted by CCTV. Australian tourists also claim to have seen a ghost near the exhibition area. The palace, in West London, has ruled out its guides as suspects because they do not enter that part of the building.
Psychologist Dr Richard Wiseman said the spectre, nicknamed Skeletor, might prove to be a significant discovery.
‘It could be the best ghost sighting ever,’ he said. ‘I haven’t seen anything that would match that at all.’
HENRY AND A HISTORY OF HAUNTING
This is London
19 December 2003
• CATHERINE HOWARD
The best known haunting at Hampton Court is by Catherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth wife.
Charged with adultery in 1541 and placed under house arrest, she broke free from her guards and ran to her husband to plead for her life. The guards dragged her back and she was executed. To this day, it is claimed, a woman in white can be seen floating down the Haunted Gallery.
• JANE SEYMOUR
Henry VIII’s third wife, who died in childbirth in 1537, is said to walk through the cobbled courtyard carrying a lighted taper.
• LADY IN GREY
Sibell Penn was nurse to Prince Edward, Henry’s only son. She died in 1562 and was buried in Hampton Church. When the church was pulled down in 1829 her remains were disturbed and it is said she returned to the rooms she once lived in.
• THE WOLSEY CLOSET
The room has a ‘strange atmosphere’. A phantom dog has been seen and heard here on more than one occasion.
CNN NEWS REPORT
Palace ‘ghost’ caught on camera Friday, December 19, 2003 Posted: 1:54 PM EST (1854 GMT)
LONDON, England (AP) — 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 ghost?
“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 it 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.
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,” Faukes said.
The palace, built in 1525 on the River Thames 10 miles west of central London, is a popular tourist attraction and some of the guides wear costumes of 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 dramatic royal events, and already 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 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.
The palace was once a prison for King Charles I, who later was beheaded, and then home to his nemesis Oliver Cromwell, who briefly ruled when Britain was for a short time a republic.