Henry VIII’s Ghosts of Ex-Wives’ Past

Divorced, beheaded, died... The wives of England's most controversial king have stayed behind to haunt us.

Back then, women lived longer if they were NOT married to the king Image BBC

Ghosts usually come back to haunt the living or because they have unfinished business on Earth, and there is nothing that defines that better than an abandoned spouse –or a beheaded one, for that matter.

The king of unfinished business with wives in the 16th century was the king himself, Henry VIII, who would rather kill or banish his wives rather than signing up for marriage counselling. So it is not odd news that some of his wives still wander the land of the living, without having forgotten nor forgiven their husband’s actions.

The best-known case would be that of Catherine of Aragon, Henry’s first wife. The Spanish princess arrived in England at the beginning of the century to marry Henry’s brother Arthur, the then Prince of Wales, and after their marriage they stayed in Castle Lodge in Ludlow. This is the first of the locations where Catherine’s ghost has reportedly been seen.


Plenty of tourists visiting Ludlow have claimed to see the ghost of a teenager walking around Castle Lodge. And while some people say it might be Catherine, – since she was only 16 when she moved there with Arthur- it seems quite improbable because, well, she was 50 when she died. Still, the legend behind this apparition claims that it is the ghost of Catherine, coming back to remember the happy life she led there with Arthur – who was probably less temperamental and an all-around better human being than his brother and Catherine’s second husband.

But it is at Kimbolton Castle, where Catherine spent the last two years of her life in the most absolute disgrace, where her spirit seems to have decided to hang around for eternity. Damp, cold and miserable was the place where Catherine’s health deteriorated, sending her to an early grave. It is said that her ghost, not aware of the alterations made to the floor levels, walks between them, with her head on the upper level floor, while her legs can be seen hanging from the ceiling on the ground floor.

Visit Hampton Court and you might bump into Catherine Howard's grieving ghost
Visit Hampton Court and you might bump into Catherine Howard's grieving ghost Image Getty

And she is not the only Catherine who wanders around spooky halls lamenting her terrible love choices. Henry’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard, is said to haunt one of the most majestic Tudor residences, Hampton Court. To be precise, she can be spotted in the Haunted Gallery –fitting name. When Howard was arrested, back in 1541, for committing adultery, she rushed towards this hall to meet Henry and beg for mercy –quite unsuccessfully, as history has taught us. Plenty of tourists who have visited this gallery have claimed to have seen a ghost or simply felt a presence, and in 1999, two female visitors fainted where the teenage queen would have begged for her life, both in the span of an hour.

Although, to be honest, Hampton Court does have a projector that makes a shadow appear on the wall to help feed the legend, so it is most likely not real. Or is it?

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