Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Unlucky Wives of Henry VIII

A man as determined as Henry to have just the right wife to bear one living son after another was bound to be bad news for the women around him, and he was.

The similarities are eerie. He divorced his first and fourth wives. He had his second and fifth wives beheaded. And his third and sixth wives died of puerperal fever, a streptococcal infection that often set in after childbirth. (Granted, his sixth wife outlived him, so she was married to another man at the time of her death, but she did have that connection with Henry.)

Of his wives, only one (Anne of Cleves) rests in peace. The others have been seen many times over the centuries.

Catherine of Aragon, rejected after many years of marriage for her younger and apparently more fertile lady in waiting, Anne Boleyn, was banished to Kimbolton Castle until her death. It is there that her ghost walks, in the chamber where she spent much of her time in life. Creepily, Catherine's death occurred just a few months before her successor's.

The ambitious, sharp-tongued Anne Boleyn was no more successful than Catherine at producing even one living male heir, let alone several of them. Beheaded on the grounds of treason and adultery (including a charge that she had had an affair with her own brother), she is perhaps the most famous ghost connected with Henry. She has been seen at the Tower of London, where she was executed and buried; at Blickling Hall, her father's residence; and at Windsor Castle, among other places. She is usually seen headless, sometimes holding her head under one arm. She is said to arrive at Blickling Hall on the anniversary of her death, in a coach drawn by headless horses and driven by a headless coachman. Her own head rests on her lap. 

Jane Seymour, who gave the King his much-awaited son, comes back to Hampton Court Palace on October 12, the date of the boy's birth. Dressed in white, she often carries a candle.

Silly, flighty, and fatally foolish Catherine Howard has been seen running frantically through the "haunted" gallery at Hampton Court. Legend has it that she slipped away from her guards and ran to beg Henry's forgiveness for her adultery (which, in her case, was true). The guards caught up to her at the doors and dragged her away. Evidently, she is never seen headless, unlike her first cousin, Anne Boleyn.

Catherine Parr has been seen at Sudely Castle, where she died. She wears a green dress.

Henry VIII is said to haunt Windsor Castle and Hampton Court. In 2003, a security camera aimed at one of the doors caught the image of a richly-dressed figure opening the doors, hesitating, then closing them again. Could this have been the ghost of Henry, able somehow to move solid objects?

Friday, November 7, 2014

A headless ghost in York

Powerful Catholic nobleman Thomas Percy was determined to overthrow the Protestant Queen Elizabeth I. He failed miserably, having to leave England and take refuge in Scotland.

Percy was betrayed and returned to England not as a victor, but as a traitor. On August 22, 1572, he was beheaded. As was fairly common practice in those days, his head was then speared on a spike on Micklegate Bar. Eventually, someone removed the rotting (or already rotted) head and buried in the churchyard of Holy Trinity Goodramgate.

Percy, however, still seeks his head, and often rises from the grave at night and fumbles among the tombstones in an attempt to find it.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Haunted attractions

I'd like to get your input, here. What's the scariest haunted attraction you've ever visited, and why? What made it stand out from all the others, especially since there are so many others?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

More haunted property in the news

Real estate agents across the United States have it good when it comes to property that is known - or even rumored - to be haunted.

An 1882 house in Joliet, Illinois, sold recently for less than $200,000. It's been the site of more than one death, including a murder in 2004. 

Those who don't mind heat, a lack of greenery, and a Blue Devil - as well as having $5.9 million to spend - might want to invest in a house over a former gold mine in Arizona. The possibility of striking it rich (well, richer) is an added incentive.

For those who would rather stay in a haunted house short-term than buy one, here's a list of ten haunted houses in the United States, some of which are bed and breakfasts. As long as you don't mind a sudden departure in the middle of the night.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Another headless ghost

Philadelphia boasts many apparitions, including one that is a contemporary of Tarrytown's Headless Horseman. This luckless fellow, another casualty of the American Revolution, rides Allens Lane on nights when the city is fog-bound.

He carries his head, of course. Why not?

Another headless spirit of the City of Brotherly Love haunts Cliveden Manor. This is the ghost of an old woman who has searched for her head for more than 200 years.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Haunted Edinburgh

Here's an interesting one:

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Bennington Triangle

This is a weird one. No ghostly activity has been reported in this area, but things are very odd here.

Between 1945 and 1950, five people disappeared in this area of southwest Vermont, most near the Long Trail. The first was Middie Rivers, an experienced guide in his 70s. On November 12, 1945, when returning from the mountains with four hunters, Rivers got ahead of his group. Nobody ever saw, or heard from, him again.

On December 1, 1946, local college student Paula Weldon went out for a day hike along the Long Trail. She never returned. Searchers combed the area, but no trace of her was ever found. One story claims that an elderly couple saw her hiking, and lost sight of her when she went around a bend. When they arrived at that same bend, Paula was gone.

The eeriest of the three disappearances was that of James Tedford. Tedford, who was in his sixties, was taking a bus from St. Albans to Bennington when he vanished. His luggage, and an open bus schedule, were found on the bus later. Witnesses stated that he was still on the bus when it left the next to the last stop (before Bennington). When the vehicle arrived at Bennington, Tedford was gone.

His disappearance occurred three years to the day after the disappearance of Paula Weldon.

The area claimed two victims in one month the following year. Paul Jepson, eight years old, wandered away from his family's truck, which had been parked not far from the area where Paula Weldon was last known to have been seen. Bloodhounds were brought out, but his scent ended abruptly on the Long Trail, suggesting abduction.

Exactly two weeks later, 53-year-old Frieda Langer went on a hike with her cousin, Herbert Elsner. Frieda slipped and fell in a creek. She asked Elsner to wait for her so that she could return to the family campsite, change clothes, then catch up with him.

Nobody saw Langer alive again. A massive search was mounted, with as many as 300 people taking part. On May 12, 1951, Frieda Langer's body was found - in an area that had already been searched. Twice.

Decomposition prevented the authorities from ascertaining a cause of death.