Halloween: it’s the time when the spirits of the dead are closest to returning to this world. But it seems it’s not just on All Hallow’s Eve that the people of Kingston report some rather strange goings-on…
The spookiness begins on Church Street, where several shop owners have suggested that there might be something a little strange about their premises. One employee at Offspring shoe shop explained that although he has never experienced anything out of the ordinary himself, when the premises had previously belonged to Office, there were several creepy tales about the attic. “People have said that they heard a phone ringing, even though there’s nothing up there,” he said. “No one ever wanted to go into the attic, it was so creepy. Apparently one manager used to insist that the hatch was closed at all times, he was so freaked out by it.”
Some employees at Toni and Guy hairdressers, a few doors along, also suspect that there is something supernatural about the row of shops. “We did a Ouija board once in the cellar,” said Nicky, “I’m not sure it’s necessarily haunted, but I was definitely freaked out.” Other employees are more convinced – two swear that they once saw a kettle pick itself up and smash itself against the wall.
Across the historic market square from Church Street is the Druid’s Head pub, which dates back to the 15th century. Hundreds of years ago the square was an execution site and, according to one barman, there are rumours that after criminals were hanged there, the bodies were sometimes taken to the cellars of the pub. Today strange sounds and unnaturally cold chills have been said to emanate from the oldest parts of the cellar.
Of course, one of Britain’s most famous haunted palaces is just across the river from Kingston. Hampton Court Palace boasts several ghosts, the most famous of which is Henry VIII’s ill-fated fifth wife, Catherine Howard. Catherine was put under house arrest when the king accused her of adultery, but managed to escape her quarters to run down the gallery to look for Henry to plead for her life. She was dragged screaming back to her room by guards and some believe her spirit still lingers in the ‘haunted gallery’. Several visitors have fainted in the exact same spot in the gallery and some have even reported to hear Catherine’s screams.
Further down the river is another stately home with reported sightings of ghosts. Ham House is said to be home to the ghost of Duchess of Lauderdale, a ruthless individual who is thought to have murdered her first husband in order to marry the Duke. Her spirit is said to wander the corridors of Ham House and several visitors and employees have reported hearing her silver-tipped cane tapping along the floor. The house is also home to a ghost with a somewhat less macabre story: a King Charles Spaniel. It is said that the canine can be heard pattering around upstairs and is often spotted frolicking in the grounds by visitors.