February 11, Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court Palace was a beautiful place, with some rooms—the Great Hall, and some of Cardinal Wolsey’s old chambers—still accurate to Catherine’s time period. We heard a demonstration of Tudor music played in the Great Hall; the same kind of music Catherine may have danced to in that very room. One of the musicians played the lute and sang “Past-time with good company”, one of my favorite of King Henry’s compositions. I had to resist the urge to sing along!
The gardens were already showing signs of green, blooming life. I wonder if Catherine saw roses—still wrapped in tight buds—beyond her window, when she was first detained in her royal chambers at Hampton .
The most beautiful part of Hampton Court was seeing it at night. We took a “Haunted Hampton” ghost tour in the evening, and the palace was lit beautifully. It was lovely and spooky and gave me a better idea of how the castle may have looked in Catherine’s time—dark, imposing, beautiful, with candles flickering and faces peering at you from tapestries and gargoyles scowling down at you with faces etched in shadow.
We were all gathered into the guard room to be told the story of the “Ghost Queen”, Catherine Howard. Upon her arrest in her royal chambers at Hampton Court, Catherine broke free from the guards and went running down a gallery toward the king’s private chapel, screaming the king’s name: “Henry! Henry!” But the guards caught her and brought her back to her apartments. According to legend, Catherine’s ghost has been seen traversing the “haunted gallery”, still calling Henry’s name.
We walked down the haunted gallery quietly; it was all very quiet and the dim gallery was lit with red light. Out the windows I saw the courtyard of the palace, lit ethereally blue. With every step I thought of Catherine’s ghost, trying to make my mind open to her: “I’m here, now. Are you here? Is there anything you have to tell me?” I have long dreamed of asking her this very question. Many people noted they felt a drop in temperature as they stepped into the haunted gallery. Regardless, I received no messages from Catherine’s ghost.