Hauntings: HAMPTON COURT

Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court Palace was home to many British monarchs for over 500 years, and it is now a popular historical attraction. The Palace is also frequently referred to as ‘one of the most haunted places in England’, and allegedly contains the ghost of Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VIII.

Fifteen months after her marriage to the King in 1540, Catherine Howard was found guilty of adultery and sentenced to death. Legend suggests that upon hearing the news, Catherine Howard ran to the King to plead for her life, but was dragged back along a section of the Palace now known as 'The Haunted Gallery'.

By the turn of the century, the Gallery had become associated with various unusual experiences, including sightings of a 'woman in white' and reports of inexplicable screams. Recent visitors to the Gallery have reported other 'ghostly' phenomena, including a strong sense of presence, a feeling of dizziness and sudden changes in temperature.

Investigation
In 1999 Prof Wiseman brought together a team of scientists to investigate the Haunted Gallery in Hampton Court Palace. This was the first time that scientists had been allowed inside a Royal palace to examine allegedly paranormal phenomena. The experiment was conducted in collaboration with Dr Caroline Watt, Dr Paul Stevens, Dr Emma Greening and Dr Ciaran O’Keeffe.

The study involved over 600 members of the public walking through certain areas of the Palace and noting down their location whenever they experienced any unusual phenomena. At night, a wide range of monitoring equipment (including thermal imagers and electromagnetic sensors) were placed in these locations to monitor the environment.

Results revealed that:

- people consistently experienced unusual sensations in certain locations

- people who believed in the existence of ghosts reported more experiences than disbelievers

- some of these experiences were caused by natural phenomena, such as subtle draughts and changes in air temperature.

- there was some tentative evidence linking the locations in which participants reported their experiences with certain types of geomagnetic activity.

Resources
BBC Online article describing Professor Wiseman's article on hauntings published in the British Journal of Psychology

Wiseman, R., Watt, C., Stevens, P., Greening, E. & O'Keeffe, C. (2003). An investigation into alleged 'hauntings'. The British Journal of Psychology, 94, 195-211. download

Wiseman, R., Watt, C., Greening, E., Stevens, P. & O'Keeffe, C. (2002). An investigation into the alleged haunting of Hampton Court Palace: Psychological variables and magnetic fields. Journal of Parapsychology, 66(4), 387-408. download