Thursday, 31 October 2013

A Spooky Look At Kensington Palace

With Halloween upon us, I thought it an appropriate time to write about about the rather spooky history of William and Kate's new home. Kensington Palace has been used as a royal residence since the early 17th century and has been plagued with tragedies, rumours of ghosts and hauntings. Indeed, it is so well known that Eerie Evening Tours are offered annually.

Historic Royal Palaces

More information from Historic Royal Palaces:

'Death, diseases love and loss - explore 300 years of secrets and tread in the footsteps of Kings, queens and courtiers as we invite you to the shadowy world of Kensington Palace.
 When all the gates are locked and the lights are out join us to hear tales of mysterious sightings, unexplained happenings and strange stories as you are guided around the darkened rooms and echoing corridors.'

Royal biographer Andrew Morton said the room that The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge chose for Prince George's nursery is a popular haunt for ghostly sightings: "Prince George's nursery in Apartment 1A has been a notorious spot for ghost sightings". When Princess Margaret resided in the apartment her housekeeper told her she saw a woman in Regency dress suddenly appear in front of her then vanish through a wall. Chief curator Lucy Worsley said there have been at least seven princesses associated with Kensington Palace who were either "sad, bad or even mad".

Historic Royal Palces

So, who is said to be wander the hallways and staircases of the palace? The most commonly known ghost is King George II, the last foreign born King of England. On 25th October, 1760, always methodical in his routine George II rose at 6 a.m., drank his usual hot chocolate and then at 7 a.m. retired to his closet - the private toilet that adjoined his bedchamber. His German valet heard a noise which he described as "louder than royal wind" and found the King on the floor bleeding from a cut on his head.

The actual cause of death was a ruptured right ventricle from an aortic aneurysm thought to have been brought on by syphilis. Before his death, he was awaiting news from his native Hanover; he died staring out the window repeatedly asking, "Why don't they come?" Some report to have heard the former King's last words in the Palace many years after his death.

Wikipedia

King George II's wife, Queen Caroline - commonly known as Caroline of Ansbach the 'funniest and fattest of all the princess' - also succumbed to a very unpleasant end. She suffered from an umbilical hernia as a result of her 8th pregnancy. Doctors crowded round the Queen but didn't examine her as it was deemed offensive to royal dignity. After some time they were forced to look at the section of bowel protruding through her abdomen. Rather than push it back, they took the fatal decision to chop it off, she was operated on without anaesthetic.  She died in a horrific scene eight days later.

Wikipedia

There have long been reports the ghost of 'Peter the Wild Boy' haunts the Palace. A mentally handicapped boy from Hanover, he was found living in the woods in 1725. The boy of unknown parentage had been living a completely feral existence. He is believed to have suffered from the very rare genetic disorder Pitt-Hopkins. The syndrome is characterized by distinctive facial features, a wide mouth and intermittent hyperventilation followed by apnoea. Peter was found in the forest by a group of hunters lead by George I, and was then brought to Britain in 1726 upon the order of George I's daughter-in-law Caroline (mentioned above). Peter allegedly roams the King's Staircase at the Palace to this day.

Wikipedia

King George II's great-granddaughter, Princess Sophia is another royal who is said to haunt Kensington Palace. Sophia led a lonely and isolated life surrounded by rumours of an incestuous relationship with her brother The Duke of Cumberland. It is said she was in love with her father's chief equerry, Thomas Garry, and gave birth to an illegitimate child in 1800. Sophia never married and, resolved to a life without love or companionship, she found solace in her spinning wheel until she went blind in her later years. To this day, people report hearing a spinning wheel throughout the palace where there is no spinning wheel.

Wikipedia

After her death in 1848, Charles Greville wrote the following diary entry:

'The Princess Sophia died a few days ago, while the Queen (Victoria) was holding the Drawing-room for her birthday. She was blind, helpless, and suffered martyrdom; a very clever, well-informed woman, but who never lived in the world.'

In the 17th century, Kensington Palace was used as a rural retreat, as it was said to 'cure without medicines' because of its clean air. In 1690, William III and Queen Mary II commissioned the architect of St Paul's to remodel and extend a house they'd bought in Kensington to escape the grime of the Palace of Whitehall. Sadly, it did not prove to be a healing place for Queen Mary. Scarcely had the royal couple moved in than she contracted smallpox, to which she succumbed a week later aged 32. Mary is known as the 'Princess Diana' of her day; the glamorous royal was adored by the public.

Wikipedia

Sadly, the tragedy did not end there; the 'Palace Jinx' had just begun. In 1702, William III died and was succeeded by Mary's sister the statuesque Anne who underwent seventeen pregnancies in an attempt to produce an heir to throne, but none of the children reached adulthood. The longest living was Prince William who succumbed to a mystery illness aged 11. Heartbroken and exhausted, Anne died aged 49 riddled with gout. This meant the end of the Stuart dynasty and her fifty blood relatives were rejected because they were Roman Catholics. Reports say Anne can still be heard weeping for her children.

Wikipedia

There are many terrible tragedies associated with the Palace leading many to believe it is cursed. A commenter on insightful travel blog Double Barrelled Travel who used to work at the Palace shared this information:


'I used to be a security guard at Kensington Palace and have worked at nights. I have few stories that I would have never believed of. Some weird creepy things happen there every time the place gets closed at 5pm.
 I had few fellow guards working with me that have experienced those things.
I worked in the control room and another guy had to walk around the palace. It was about 1am and he saw someone running down the stairs. On the radio he said that there’s someone there and told me to check it on the cctv monitor, but nothing was there except the fact that I could see the carpet actually moving a bit like if someone was running.
 Another time I had a day off, but my other friend told me this story that has happened to him. He’s a security guard about 2m tall. It was late evening and he was walking around checking rooms. He opened a room and saw 2 little kids play. He started walking towards them and both have disappeared. He shut the door, ran downstairs and told other security guards that he’s not leaving the control room again that night. Can you imagine?
Another story I’ve heard is that a security guard saw a woman dressed up in all that monarchy dresses they used to wear in old times. She was walking up the stairs turned around, smiled at him and kept walking. After about 30 seconds he ran after her but she was gone and there is no exit upstairs. 
A lot of other things happen there such as crying babies and weird noises. Once we had a meeting with the manager. Something tapped me on my shoulder and I felt very cold. I’ve turned around and there was no one there except a guy 4 meters away from me.. 
I would not recommend working there to anyone, because it can seriously ruin you physically and mentally. Some people get used to if after some time but it’s too much for me but I have big respect for those people who work there at nights.'

NZ Ghosts reporter there are no fewer than three ghosts in residence at KP.

NZ Ghosts

On that eerie note, whether you're enjoying a quiet night in with your favourite scary flicks, taking children out trick or treating or attending a fancy dress party as Kate did in 2007, have a very happy Halloween! :)

49 comments:

  1. Sarah from Calif.31 October 2013 at 00:47

    Oh Charlotte loved the post. Well I wouldn't mind hanging around the Palace at night and scaring off a few ghosts! By the way Halloween is my Birthday! !!! My brothers always said I was a witch (as brothers will do) but I decided I was a princess because that is what my name means. Well I hope everyone has a fun and safe Halloween. Not to many tricks but lots of treats (chocolate)
    Loved the history always so informative.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A Princess sounds much better than a witch Sarah :) The history element was very interesting and it seemed a fun post for Halloween!

      Delete
    2. Shantel (@FashionandFaith)31 October 2013 at 16:41

      HAPPY BIRTHDAY SARAH!!
      Shantel
      Minnesota,USA

      Delete
    3. Julia from Leominster31 October 2016 at 16:24

      Happy birthday, Sarah!!

      Delete
  2. Charlotte you are amazing! I loved this post, the history is fascinating and so interesting to read, thank you for such an entertaining and informative lesson on Kensington Palace! Happy Halloween from Canada!
    Kate

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Kate, Happy Halloween :)

      Delete
    2. Rose from Montreal, Canada31 October 2013 at 02:21

      Happy Birthday Sarah. Hope you have a wonderful day to celebrate. Hugs

      Delete
  3. What a fantastic post I learned a lot esp about princess Sophia. Thank you Charlotte for such and interesting read! Hope you have a very happy Halloween!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Pauline Oak HIlls31 October 2013 at 01:27

    What a great post Ms. Charlotte. Thank you for the interesting facts about the Palace. Wonder how close baby George's bedroom is to his mommy & daddys.

    Wonder if baby George will be dressing up for Hollween. I can see Kate putting a cute costume on him but we will never see any photos.

    Any idea who the gentlemam Kate is with in the photo? Just wondering.

    Happy Birthday to my friend Sarah. Hope you have a great day.
    Hope you have a great Hollween.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi chalotte happy halloween thanks imformative and i love history

    ReplyDelete
  6. How clever of you to do a festive post like this! A fun idea, but as I started reading I got the chills a little! I can't believe all the tragedy that has happened there, and how interesting that it seems some spirits haven't left ;) Hope they are good to the baby Prince.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Ana B. from Brazil31 October 2013 at 01:56

    Charlotte, what an amazing idea!
    It was a very enjoyable article to read! Very interesting facts, I couldn't have imagined stories like this, ever!
    I find it really "odd" to hear Prince George's nursery room has ghosts... George is said to be a very loud baby, that doesn't sleep much... Maybe these facts are connected? Well, you never know!
    Happy halloween!
    Thank you for the post, Charlotte! Superb!
    Hugs:)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Charlotte, this is such a spooky but fascinating read!!!I never knew KP was seeped in such history!! And God almighty be with all the security guards in KP!! I can understand when the guard said, after a while the guards get used to the spooky happenings. My mom was working as a doctor, and when she would walk the wards at night to check on the patients, she would mention seeing strange sightings in the hospital. It would startle her momentarily, but eventually she realized they don't bother humans, so she got used to that.
    I wonder how WIll and Kate live there? Im sure they are aware of the history of KP.
    Thanks Charlotte for this informative update!!xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hello Charlotte,
    I like this post very much it's very eerie and spooky. Let's hope William and Kate and baby George don't come across any of these ghosts!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wow wow fabulous post!! Thanks a million for all ur hard work. So interesting!! I always wanted to know the history of the palace. So the queen lives at buckingham palace and all the other royals live in kensington palace??? Right??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Rose,

      Prince Charles and Camilla's official London residence is Clarence House, The Earl and Countess of Wessex reside at Bagshot Park, it's roughly 11 miles south of Windsor while The Duke of York lives in The Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park in Berkshire.

      I believe the only members of the royal family residing at Kensington Palace are William, Kate and Harry, the Kents and Gloucesters.

      There's quite a few fascinating royal residences actually, we might take a look at them in a future post :)

      Delete
    2. I would love to see a post and maybe a map of the offical residents! I loved this 'spooky' post. how sad it must have been, to have 17 children and none of them seen adulthood. 17 births she went through, how hard that must of been on her body. have a great Halloween.

      Delete
    3. No. While some of the royals have flats at KP, most of them live elsewhere. Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and his daughters, and the Wessexes do not live at KP, nor does Princess Alexandra of Kent, nor do the Duke and Duchess of Kent. The Gloucesters have a house they rent out, having found it too expensive to maintain, so they live at KP; and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent live there, having sold their house. The Gloucesters' children do not live there, nor do any of the Kent children from any of the three Kent families. Princess Anne's children also live elsewhere.

      Delete
    4. Thanks for the explanation!! I appreciate it. Yes a post on all the royal residenced would be a fabulous idea. Only if its not too hard or time consuming for u!! Thx

      Delete
  11. Hey Charlotte,
    In that photo of Kate it kooks as if she's a witch for Halloween, what do you think? You can also see Pippa behind her. I really do forget how close they are but it seems as if they were always together before she was married.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello!

      Kate was dressed up as a witch and attending a 2007 fancy dress party at Mahiki nightclub in London, a favourite haunt of William and Kate's during their mid twenties.

      Delete
    2. Is a fancy dress party Britain's way of saying a costume party? I'm from the united states and have always heard this expression used but never quite knew what it meant. In the US we call them costume parties.

      Delete
  12. Creepy! I wouldn't live there for all the rice in China!

    ReplyDelete
  13. This was such a cool post Charlotte!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Uhhhh, that one really IS spooky!! Perfect work, as always, Dear Charlotte, amazing, all the details, the pictures, such interesting read!! Super, really!! If I was Kate, I would think twice about moving into a place like that - at least after having read your great post! ;-)))))))
    So, happy Halloween to you all!!!! Lots of love, Eve from Germany

    ReplyDelete
  15. Wonderful Halloween post. Thank you, Charlotte!
    I don't believe in none of these supernatural things, I'm quite sceptical, but I find extremely amusing these very anglo-saxonic tradition of ghosts and haunting stories :) Every time I visit London or Edinburgh I'm fascinated with its castles and palaces, and all of them have their own ghosts :)
    I miss those days when we had the chance to see the Duchess dressed like a witch. It wont't happen again, I suppose ;)
    Have fun!.
    Z. from Portugal

    ReplyDelete
  16. Jean from Lancs.31 October 2013 at 13:00

    Both Prince William and Prince Harry were brought up in Kensington Palace, whilst Princess Margaret's two children actually lived in that apartment.
    I believe there are stories of ghosts in most of these old houses ( not to mention palaces and castles), mainly because old buildings make all sorts of creeky noises.
    What a lovely staircase in your picture---what a pity it was not that one that Catherine was photographed on last week!
    Piece in this morning's papers says that Prince William will represent the Queen next week when he
    accompanies the President of South Korea to the "breaking of ground" for the memorial to the British dead in the Korean War. However they are not invited to the State Dinner and will not be invited until they are full-time royals.Seems that to be present at one of these they have to be passed retirement age!
    These State Visits now pass almost unnoticed by the media--which I suppose is not surprising as they are all so much the same. Seems to be a missed opportunity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jean, thank you for the information. So disappointing there won't be a state dinner in the near future for William and Kate...that means no tiara for Kate. I bet once William and Kate attend a couple State Dinners, they will not go unnoticed by the media. :) Hope you have a great weekend!

      Delete
  17. I didn't realize that KP had illusionistic murals -- as, for example, the one picturing people leaning over a balcony. I'll have to research them.

    Charlotte, you describe Caroline as "George I's daughter," when I believe you meant to write "daughter-in-law." You had previously discussed George II's wife Caroline, and George I didn't have a daughter called Caroline.

    I might also mention that Mary II was a queen regnant -- a woman who reigned in her own right -- and co-regnant with her husband, not simply a queen consort by marriage. Her position was therefore quite different from Diana's. She was the eldest daughter of King James II, run off the throne in the Glorious Revolution, and was married to her first cousin, the half-British, half-Dutch William. She insisted that he should reign with her rather than that she should be sole monarch.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thanks for this spooky information. Entertaining to read on Halloween.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Great post! I loved the spooky history lesson.

    Jennifer from New Orleans

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi Charlotte,
    Thanks for the great post. I enjoyed the spooky history lesson.

    Jennifer from New Orleans

    ReplyDelete
  21. I couldn't sleep well in the Palace... What a scary place! However I do hope that the dead look after the alive. Thank you for the spOOky article :)
    xxx

    ReplyDelete
  22. Charlotte, wonderful account of spooky doings at KP. The first photo of the staircase does look rather sinister. I bet Little George will be thrilled to her all those stories when he gets a bit older. He'll be a sensible child and not be bothered at all.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Awesome post :) Happy Halloween everyone! xx

    ReplyDelete
  24. Really fascinating post thank you Charlotte. When I look at those photos of the beautiful KP decor, I wonder what it must be like for Kate to go from living in a normal house to an ornate palace. If I were her, I think I'd have to keep pinching myself to check it isn't all a dream!

    ReplyDelete
  25. bluhare in Washington State1 November 2013 at 16:33

    I really do learn some new things when I read here. I knew KP was haunted, but not by this many ghosts!

    All right, I'm going to say it. There is no way on God's green earth I'd let my baby sleep in a bedroom that's haunted. No way. Unless there was a séance or exorcism or whatever you do to get rid of it. And even then I don't think so.

    ReplyDelete
  26. LOVED this post! I LOVE reading up on Royal history, especially the spooky history! So fun and fascinating! Am I strange that I would love to hang out around KP for a couple nights just to see or hear something? The King's staircase pictured above and the rooms of KP are very beautiful to see. Makes me want to hop a plane now and head back. Afternoon tea at The Orangery and a camp out in the King's Gallery sound spooky and fun! Happy Halloween everyone!

    PS...Surely Little George will be safe in his new nursery right? :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would rather bother about all the dangerous viruses and bacterial spores than the ghosts... They're still in the old items.

      Delete
  27. Hi Charlotte have you seen the film Diana yet? I saw it and it was hard to watch but better than I expected Naomi Watts did the best she could do with the material. I felt sad for William and Harry as it must be painful to watch and relive some of the painful memories. I know I was very sad at the end of the film and relived so many moments I did not want to.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Mellie,

      I did see it and I agree Naomi Watts did a fine job with the script but I felt the failings of the move lied in the script. I don't know if it was too soon or if there will ever be a right time for a Diana movie. I would like to see documentaries with footage of her working with charities and perhaps insight into her most loved causes, that could be very special.

      Delete
    2. It is said to be showing here in the States starting this month. I am hoping to see it, but I know there are major errors. The NY Daily News described Diana as a giggling schoolgirl in the film and no chemistry between her and the actor who played Hasnat Kahn. What did you both think?

      Delete
    3. Couldn't have said it better myself Charlotte. I agree with everything you said the script and dialogue were wrong. I would love a documentary like that showing the real Diana we all loved.

      Hi Anon, yes I would agree with that Hasnat Kahn was much too cold in the role towards Diana. I did not think she played a giggling school girl though but she didn't embody the real Diana though. However she played the role better than I expected her to.

      Delete
  28. I didn't know that the palace had night tours! My husband and I do paranormal investigations as a hobby so I shall coordinate our next trip to London to align with this tour.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Had my own scary adventure at Kensington Palace after tea at the Orangery - no one told my friend & I that gates were locked at 6:pm - we wandered around outside the beautiful building for some time then headed back to the gates we had entered - they were locked - we spent some time walking along the fence wondering if we would have to spend the night under a tree - finally came to what seemed a main street & attracted the attention of a passerbye - he told us to continue wa;lking & would finally come to a turnstile. My friend & I still have a giggle over that
    Elizabeth Priddle
    Innisfil, Ontario Canada

    ReplyDelete

Comments are most welcome! Constructive discussion is always encouraged but off topic or hateful remarks will not be published. If you wish to share your name and where you're from without using the sign in options, simply select the "Name/URL" option on the drop down menu and insert your name, and if you wish the country/state you're from. You can leave the URL blank.

If there are a large number of comments, it is necessary to click the 'Load More' button at the end of the comments section to see the latest additions.