Thursday, October 29, 2009

Souvenirs of a Haunted Places

In this post, Building Collector reader Scott D. explores the paranormal possibilities of some particular places.

“Often times, collectors don’t think of the history of the buildings we collect. Even more, the notorious occurrence that took place at them and the ghost stories associated with them. One such place is Hampton Court. It was Cardinal Thomas Wolsey who built the palace 10 miles away from Central London in the area known as Richmond in 1514. Tudor King Henry VIII later was given the palace ten years later from Wolsey. Wolsey fell from favor and was arrested for treason, but he died before he met his executioner. Since then, Cardinal Wolsey still visits frequently his former home. Also reported to be haunting the palace are two phantom soldiers of King Charles I as well as a boy dressed as a page of Charles II or the White Lady of Hampton Court. As lovers of architecture we cannot forget Christopher Wren, (Who created numerous churches and famed buildings in England) who still is working on the renovation Hampton Court. On February 25, the anniversary of his death, his footsteps has been heard and other paranormal phenomena have been witnessed. We cannot leave out the Ghost associated with King Henry the VIII. His second wife Anne Boleyn was beheaded for alleged treason, incest, adultery and witchcraft. Staff and visitors have seen her most of the time seen as a lady dressed in blue or black. Jane Seymour, the third wife of Henry VIII, died in 1537 after giving birth to Edward VI. Her death occurred in a Caesarean in order to save the life of the young heir. She now haunts the Silver Stick Gallery in Hampton Court every year on the birthday of the baby whose birth had meant her death. On moonlit evenings, dressed in white and carrying a candle, she ascends in a melancholic way the staircase leading to the Gallery, where she glides wreathed in a silvery light. Catherine Howard, fifth wife of Henry VIII is one of the more notorious of his
wives. Her being young she had many lovers. Henry had her beheaded along with her lovers. Catherine tried to make a last plea for her life only to be dragged away Shrieking. You can still hear her bone chilling shrieks in Hampton Court. Her ghost seen racing chased by soldiers. These days Catherine prefers the court yard on sunny days and a man said that he saw a ladies hand come from a door way with a ring on it that Catherine has in a portrait. Seems to be a number of ladies who haunt Hampton Court. Another is Dame Sybill Penn, also known as the Grey Lady of Hampton Court. She was the foster-mother of Edward VI. When the young king died, she mourned him as her own son. Afterwards she was granted a residence at Hampton Court. She died at the court in 1562 of smallpox and was buried in an imposing tomb in the old church of Hampton-on-Thames. Until 1829 she rested there in peace, but when the old church was demolished, her tomb was disturbed so was her soul. The ghost of Penn returned to her old rooms at Hampton Court, where angry mutterings were heard, and the sound of a spinning wheel echoing through the southwest wing. Workers traced the sound back to a brick wall and uncovered a secret room with a 16th century spinning wheel and a variety of curiosities. Hampton Court records showed that this room once had been occupied by Dame Penn who had often used the spinning wheel. Since then, people sleeping in the Palace have been felt the icy hands of Mrs. Penn upon their faces, and a luminous figure in grey bending over them. She reputedly haunts several parts of the palace including the Clock Court. Another souvenir with with ghostly provenance is the Bramshill house bookend made by Bradley & Hubbard in the 1930's. The real Bramshill house is a Jacobean style mansion and references to Bramshill (Bromeselle) date back to the Saxon times. In the 14th century Thomas Foxley lived there, he was the person that built Windsor Castle for the crown. It appears that he used masons from Windsor to build a small castle; some evidence of this can still be seen in the cellar. In 1605 11th Baron Zouche of Harrington, Edward Lord Zouche, of Gray’s Inn brought the property and demolished a large part of it and built the house we see today. He completed the work in 1612. It was intended to be used as royal palace by Henry, son of James I. Young Henry died of typhoid before the work could be completed in 1625, thereby associating the house with tragedy from the very beginning. Sir John Cope brought the house in 1699, and eight generation of his family continued to live there till 1935. Since 1960 it has been used as The Police Staff College. This is believed to be a very haunted. Bramshill House is said to be haunted by no less than 14 spirits and that the most important is the White Lady. She announced her presence with a strong floral fragrance, the smell of the arum lilies or the lily-of-the-valley. The White Lady is thought to be of young Anne, Sir John’s eldest daughter. On her wedding day she wanted to play a game of hide and seek her family and guests never found her. Years later her body was found inside an old trunk that could only be unlocked from the outside by a servant in an unused part of the house. The mistletoe-bough chest, Italian in origin, is displayed in the Bramshill’s reception hall. One legend has it that when the chest was in Italy, Genevre Orsini, who was 15, had suffered the ghastly fate described above in 1727. And when the carved Italian chest was imported by the fifth Baronet Cope, Genevre’s ghost was imported, too. Genevre or Anne wanders in the mansion, sad-faced, favoring the Long Gallery, the Fleur de Lys room and the area around the chest. During the 1930s, young Joan Penelope Cope and her brother often awoke to find the White Lady by their bedside. Maybe this is the reason why the family moved in 1935? The family of King Michael of Romania, which stayed at the Bramshill from 1950 to 1952, felt the presence of the White Lady. His queen saw ‘her’ sitting in the King’s room. An exorcism had had no effect. Yet another ghost, the Grey Lady, so named because of her grey colored robe, is said to be the ghost of one of the members of the Cope family. She has auburn hair and is dressed in a straight, sleeveless robe. One story has it that her husband, a dissenter, was brought to the Bramshill in the early 17th century, where he was interrogated, summarily tried and immediately thereafter beheaded. She now wanders through the mansion in search of him. The ‘husband of the Grey Lady’ has also been felt. The ‘son of the Grey Lady’ too is heard crying from the pre-Jacobean cellars. Then, there is the ghostly ‘Green Man’, seen in the vicinity of the fresh water-lake, sometimes standing on the little bridge near the Tudor gatehouse. It is said to be the ghost of a member of the Cope family who drowned in the lake in 1806. At the time of the death, he was dressed in green from head to knee. From knee down-wards, he wore black boots — and so, he is seen as legless against the dark background. In 1976, a security officer on night patrol encountered a ghost, believed to be Ronald, the son of the Bramshill’s last private owner Lord Brocket. Ronald had died in tragic circumstances 30 years back. At the time he was sighted the young man’s ghost was in tennis gear and carrying a racket. One room on the first floor has ghostly forms that float two feet above the floor level. It is an interesting fact that this particular floor was lowered during structural alterations, and it would appear that the ghosts walk at the same level where they had walked earlier. There is also a path in the grounds of the Bramshill haunted by ‘the Gardener’, who was drowned in a lake in the north-west side. Dogs smell something as soon as they come to the tunnel formed by the intertwining branches of overgrown trees, and avoid going through the tunnel. The terrace, with its loggias and elegant bay windows with balustrades, is haunted by a mysterious woman in white. She appeared dramatically one evening in front of Sir William Cope and his family. As the butler approached the figure, it seemed to melt into the balustrade. There are other stories of strange happenings in the house. No wonder, the Bramshill is known as the ‘most haunted house in Hampshire England’. Significantly, all but one of the ghosts — the exception being the Gardener — are "friendly", or more appropriately, not harmful to those who experience them. The College Secretariat keeps a ‘ghost file’ — a file on ghosts — which meticulously records encounters of all ghosts sighted in and around the house. If happen to visit the Bramshill and have a ‘ghostly’ experience, do not forget to have your experience entered in the "ghost file." Are these stories just over imagination or the real thing? You be the judge, but it sure makes a building in your collection even more special knowing it’s haunted. “ – Scott.

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