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Spirits & Sceptres - Top 10 Phantom Monarchs

Updated: Apr 25, 2023

Henry VIII ghost

Loyal to their kingdom and bound to the throne in death...

We look at the top 10 most active monarchs who still haunt England.

10 Henry VI

Imprisoned in the Wakefield Tower of the Tower of London, Henry VI was murdered at the altar in the King’s Private Chapel in 1471. Henry’s ghost is believed to haunt the Wakefield Tower, appearing on the stroke of midnight to franticly pace the room before disappearing into the walls.

With no recent or traceable records of sightings, this may simply be a story to boost the Tower’s spirit roster for excitable tourists.

9 King Harold

The ghost of King Harold Godwinson, famously killed at the Battle of Hastings, supposedly haunts the area around the altar which marks the spot of his demise. Sightings have been rare, but this may simply be down to the fallen King’s schedule – he is also said to appear in Chester, walking along the passage by St John’s Church and potentially being the cause of poltergeist activity in the Anchorite's Cell or Hermitage, an old sandstone building down by the river.

8 Edward II

Known for his love of music, acting and manual pursuits such as thatching, Edward II was far from the imposing warrior that his father had been. A known homosexual, his favouritism for possible lover, Piers Gaveston, unsettled the court and his Barons, alienating his wife Isabella of France in the process.

The Queen, together with her lover Roger Mortimer, usurped the King and replaced him with their young son, who could rule under their close direction.

Imprisoned at Berkeley Castle, the King was first starved and left to rot but after showing an unwillingness to die, it is said that he met his demise via a nasty introduction between a hot poker and his back passage.

Although sightings of his spirit haven’t been recorded, his screams have been known to echo throughout the castle, particularly in the month of September.

7 George II

The Hanoverian King and Britain’s last monarch to lead troops into battle, has been seen and heard by multiple witnesses at Kensington Palace, the home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

During the end of his life, Britain was involved in the Seven Years’ War (1756-63) often considered the first true World War and his ghost is seen recreating a tense wait for an update on his troops. He is either spotted pacing the corridors or staring with a concerned look at the palace weathervane, muttering “Why won’t they come?”

6 George III

Towards the end of his reign and as his illness took over, George III was confined to his quarters for long periods of the day. Witnesses looking up at the windows to this area often describe seeing the frail and sad King’s face as he stares longingly at the outside world.

Several witnesses have seen him over the years in his former room, but he has also been seen in one of the bedrooms.

George III ghost

Interestingly, George III had his own interaction with a royal spirit during his time at Windsor castle. While in the library, he not only saw but confronted Elizabeth I to ask why she remained at the castle, to which she replied, “I am married to England”.

We must of course take this story with a pinch of salt given the King’s mental health – after all, he was once seen trying to shake hands with a tree which he believed to be the King of Prussia!

5 Richard III

The 15th Century Monarch, villainized by Shakespeare as the hunchbacked uncle who killed his nephews to claim the throne, has been seen at Leicester Cathedral. His remains were found under a car park in 2012 and reinterred in the cathedral on the 26th March 2015. Sightings have been centred around the tomb, with the King either seen levitating in peace above the stone slab or his face emerging from the slab itself.

Ghost hunters at Donington le Heath Manor House Museum, investigating the bed that Richard supposedly slept in the night before his battle at Bosworth, claim to have made contact with the King via EVP. When the spirit is questioned on its identity, a faint voice answers with the name Richard.

Bosworth field is also known to be a hotspot for paranormal activity. The King has yet to be sighted there but reports include the feeling of being pushed, grabbed, followed, or watched. Orbs and light anomalies have been seen and the sounds of battle (including the clash of steel, horse and wounded cries) have also been reported over the years.

4 Henry VIII

Chenies Manor House, Amersham – used as a holiday home for Henry, a ghostly figure was first reported there in the 50s and has been seen on multiple occasions ever since. Although the phantom hasn’t officially been recognised as such, it is thought to be the King.

Hurst Castle, Hampshire – During a recent (2020) overnight investigation of the coastal fort, a paranormal group reported seeing the King’s spirit in partial mist form before he launched an angry attack on their equipment. What prompted the attack is unknown, perhaps Henry already knew that the investigators would sell this story to the Daily Star…

Samlesbury Hall, Preston – Henry has been seen and apparently photographed at this 14th Century Manor House.

Windsor Castle – The King haunts the deanery cloisters where dragging footsteps have been reported by staff and visitors. Henry suffered from ulcers on his left leg which, combined with obesity in later life, caused him great pain and walking difficulties.

3 Charles I

Painswick Court House, Cotswolds – Charles stayed at this Manor house (now a hotel) before the siege of Gloucester in 1643. His ghost has been seen there on a number of occasions, usually accompanied by his men.

Chavenage House, Chavenage, Gloucestershire – The Parliamentarian General, Henry Ireton, visited politician Nathaniel Stephens at Chavenage House (then owned by Stephens) to discuss the execution of the captured King. Stephens was at first against the execution but after lengthy discussion, was convinced by Ireton.

When Stephens died, a headless ghost (reputed to be that of the King) was seen by the Chavenage House staff at his funeral.

The Old George Inn, Newcastle – Charles I is said to be one of many ghosts who haunt this 16th century pub, although he is yet to be properly identified by eyewitnesses.

Quayside & Trinity House, Newcastle – The spirit of Charles I has been seen at the Quayside, desperately looking for a rescue ship that was supposed to help him escape capture. Trinity House, which once hid the King from Parliamentarians in the cellar, has also reported his ghost walking the hallways and opening doors.

Charles I is also said to haunt the halls of Christ Church college in Oxford (without his head) but surprisingly, he has yet to been seen at the site of his execution in Whitehall.

2 Elizabeth I

The virgin Queen has been sighted by many over the years, including Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret!

While at Windsor, our current Queen saw Elizabeth I floating across the library, a place she is often spotted or heard.

Elizabeth I ghost

George III saw and interacted with the Queen’s spirit in the same area and Edward VII saw a woman in black, who he believed to be Elizabeth, walk into the library and fade away. During the start of World War II, King George VI saw the ghost of Elizabeth eight nights in a row in or around the castle’s library. Staff have also reported seeing Elizabeth over the years - in 1897 Lieutenant Carr Glynn, one of Queen Victoria’s guards, was startled to see a lady walk by his library office bearing a strong resemblance to the old Queen. Immediately leaving his desk to follow and question the woman, the Lieutenant was unable to find her, despite there being no point of exit for her to leave.

During a ghost hunt at Strelley Hall in Nottinghamshire, ghost hunters saw and captured the image of Elizabeth I in an archway.

The Queen was supposedly seen at Richmond Palace, her favourite home and the place of her death. Sightings started soon after she died with reports of her walking the corridors or grounds, but since being demolished after the death of Charles I, there hasn’t been any reported accounts in the area.

1 Edward V

Better known as one of the Princes in the Tower, the 12-year-old Edward inherited the throne from his father, King Edward IV in 1483.

Because of his young age, Edward’s uncle Richard Duke of Gloucester, was made lord protector of the realm. Due to conflict between the Duke of Gloucester and Edward’s maternal family (the Woodvilles) who tried to dominate in governing the young king, Gloucester moved Edward and his brother, Prince Richard, to the Tower of London for their protection.

At first, the two children were observed to have relative freedom within the walls of the Tower, often seen playing, practicing their swordsmanship or roaming the grounds at leisure. However, this took a nasty turn as the Gloucester-Woodville conflict escalated and the Duke, claiming a discovery that the boys were in fact illegitimate, took full control of England and crowned himself Richard III.

Sightings of the boys gradually ceased in the weeks that followed and it is said that Richard, or someone following his orders, murdered them to cement his claim to the throne.

During renovations to the White Tower in 1674, workmen discovered a small chest beneath the staircase containing pieces of velvet clothing and the bones of two children.

Witnesses have reported the sounds of children playing and giggling within the tower and the princes have been seen chasing each other along the battlements. There have also been reports of less enjoyable scenes replayed to startled guards or visitors – that of the two boys dressed in nightshirts, clutching each other’s hand as they walk around the White Tower, scared and uncertain of where to go.

Psychic Christine Hamlett who visited the Tower on 26th August 2015, had a sense that something or someone was trying to communicate with her from the battlements. Taking a quick snap of the battlements, Christine was able to enlarge the area that she was drawn to on her computer and saw the figure of a boy in medieval clothing staring back at her.

In 2016, a family visiting the White Tower were browsing the exhibits and took a picture of a bejewelled pistol which was on display in one of the cabinets. Although the family were alone at the time of the photo (space in that area was restricted by the cabinets), they were shocked to see the face of a young boy reflected back in the glass. The boy’s clothing and hair seemed to be from a different era, similar to the popular styles of the late 1400s…

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