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Who Believes in Ghosts!?

Updated on August 26, 2010
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The lovely Anne BoleynLincoln would make a great ghost!Henry 8th.  A swinish murderer
The lovely Anne Boleyn
The lovely Anne Boleyn
Lincoln would make a great ghost!
Lincoln would make a great ghost!
Henry 8th.  A swinish murderer
Henry 8th. A swinish murderer

..and things that go "bump" in the night!

Who Believes in Ghosts!?

“With her head tucked underneath her arm,

She walks the Bloody Tower

On the midnight hour..”

Most kids in Britain are familiar with the macabre old verse about the ghost of Queen Anne Boleyn as she parades around the Tower of London after being executed, ostensibly for failing to bear King Henry 8th a son. If she and Catherine Howard, the other wife this despot had beheaded, are also condemned to exist in spirit-hood, they are in good company, as thousands of people met their maker in the Tower over the 800 years it has glowered over the river Thames. Anne was the most popular and, according to old art we have, a pretty and vivacious lady making her by far the more likely contender for ghost material. Many have said to have seen her, including tower guards in the Nineteenth Century, who ran their bayonet’s through the spirit with the subsequent lack of blood and friction causing much surprise and alarm. (We hope it was just their bayonet’s).

Undoubtedly the most tragic case of murder in the tower was not that of the anguished queen, sad as it was, but of the two little princes, Edward, 12, and Richard, 10, in 1483. They were secretly murdered in their rooms, without much doubt by assassins sent by the Duke of Gloucester to clear the way for him to become Richard 3rd. The case never went to trial but Shakespeare’s play made Gloucester the villain of the piece and history has condemned him on circumstances alone.

For 200 years after the assassination, ghosts of the two Princes were regularly seen around the tower until workmen discovered two sets of children’s bones in a casket in 1674. Convinced the remains were of the two, King Charles 2nd ordered a royal burial for the bones and the ghosts were said to have been laid to rest and not seen since.

One thing is certain. Pandora’s Box could not hope to contain as many demons as the number of horrific acts committed by the British establishment over the last 1000 years; the Devil in Hell will surely be hard put to find enough punishing occupations for the kings and other assorted offenders against humanity who arrive at the fiery gates after Judgment Day. Of course, we all know the truth: there is no justice for the oppressed, poor and weak and God seems to always favor their oppressors.

As I scan through the wonderful “Encyclopedia of Ghosts,” by Daniel Cohen, the source of information and inspiration for this article, still, I believe, in print, it amazes me that I have heard of so few of the ghostly luminaries tabled in the 307 pages. This is why I won’t attempt to list them herein as I doubt many of you have heard of them either. The book summons 105 ghosts to our attention, including animal ghosts, like the Dog of Doom and Ghastly Pets; Poltergeists, like one you will know, The Exorcist. Some arrived seeking revenge, to warn or as a result of crisis. Then there are phenomena such as another promoted through Hollywood, the Amityville Horror. This was a really scary movie with great special effects and one of the best of the genre I have seen. It sprang from the real-life murders of his parents, two brothers and two sisters, by Ronald DeFeo, (The name significantly means “the ugly” in Spanish), in Amityville, Long Island. This became the worst crime in the area’s history and attracted national attention. De Feo eventually earned 6 life terms for the acts after defending himself by saying “voices” had ordered the killings. This, of course, is a classic syndrome of homicidal schizophrenia. Later, the Lutz family purchased the house where the crimes had taken place, only to abandon the place in haste one month later after being subject, they claimed, to a series of terrifying happenings, some of which fans of the film will remember, especially the powerful performance of the “ghost buster,” the little old granny, an addition from Hollywood. The graveyard and the appearance of the “undead,” was also made up by Hollywood. The whole thing is seen as a hoax today.

As well as the Tower of London, Henry 8th’s great residence, Hampton Court, is unsurprisingly peppered with ghost stories. In fact, Henry, might well be the greatest manufacturer of ghosts in history due to his tendency of removing the heads of those who opposed or displeased him. Anne Boleyn’s headless apparition is said to visit there from her usual haunt of the Tower, as does Catherine Howard who was evidently dragged, screaming, from the palace as Henry disposed of her. Cardinal Wolsey, who built the palace rather too well and was kicked out by envious Henry, visits his old home several hundred years after his death. Archbishop Laud, another of Henry’s victims, pops around for a bit of diversion, but he is more famed for rolling his head along the library floor in St John’s College, Oxford.

Hampton Court also has the Gray Lady, a Mrs. Penn, who was a nurse for Henry’s children. Evidently, lightening disturbed her burial place and liberated her to be able to return in ghostly form to her old place of employment. There are many more, sometimes seen as a gorgeously attired group somewhere in the royal gardens.

Ghostly legends touches a familiar chord. You will remember the story of the Flying Dutchman, just one of the countless tales of ships being abandoned by passengers and crew, yet still sailing past amazed onlookers in the mist. Many of these are cases in fact of private yachts whose crew went swimming while their ship drifted away, or their single captain fell overboard sick or suicidal. The Dutchman, though, has caught the imagination since it became part of folklore at the beginning of the Nineteenth Century.

The world seems to be divided between those who believe in ghosts and parapsychology and metaphysics in general, and those who don’t. This contributor lived in Mexico for many years and found that few people would admit to believing in ghosts, witches and black magic, etc., but in truth most did! Even in enlightened Britain, I bet far more people than those who admit to being believers, actually do. It’s a bit like the old saw that says there are no atheists in the trenches. When it’s a dark, night and the wind is moaning around the eves and we hear a sudden, unexplained sound or catch a glimpse of a vision, how many of us can honestly say we don’t feel our pulse speed up a bit and our glance move to that dark corner outside the glow of our lamp…?? Of course there couldn’t be anyone in the cellar…but, where’s the poker, I’ll just take a quick peep! How many of us can go and watch a ghostly movie, like, say, “Hound of the Baskervilles” and not feel unease as we hear the howl of the Hound From Hell? Even though we all knew it was a Great Dane with a devil-mask on. Pass the coke, Sherlock!

If anyone had the visage and demeanor to make a good ghost, it was Abraham Lincoln. He often sat for hours withdrawn into himself in what contemporaries have said must have been spiritual reverie or meditation. I don’t expect many had the sand to ask the President, “Cat got yer tongue!? What was more probable was that this busy man was taking advantage of a nap. His bushy eyebrows prevented anyone seeing if his eyes were open or closed.

It has also been said he was a prophet, even forecasting his own death by assassination. He was, or course, sent to an early grave at the theater by John Wilkes Booth. His life had been threatened many times and this accumulated menace must have a psychological effect on anyone.

After his death, he naturally became the target of mediums and other fakers. Many accounts of ghostly sightings of Lincoln, his funeral train, and of him in his residences exist. It’s strange how much attention famous people get from the spirit world while the disenfranchised and poor are lucky to have their names remembered outside the immediate family.

Well, perhaps this isn’t the best book to read when you’re all alone in a creaky old house…Lotta nonsense anyway…Wait a minute! I was sure I locked that back door…!!



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    • profile image

      Mariska 3 years ago

      IsraelAugust 2, 2012 The USB port for Rock Band is an adapter that alwols you to plug in more USB cables, and yes, you have to have it to play all your instruments at once. The bundle comes with it. You can't use your PS2 guitar controller on the PS3.

    • Shinkicker profile image

      Shinkicker 6 years ago from Scotland

      Hi Bob

      Your mention of Shakespeare reminds me of one of my favourite quotes.

      "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,

      Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

      So who knows about Ghosts? Always good to keep an open mind. I used to be a Ghost Tour Guide in Glasgow. Loads of weird noises and scary apparitions........... but no ghosts :-)

      Great Hub, marked up

    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 6 years ago from The English Midlands

      Hi Bob :)

      My Mum woud like that book! I'll have to look it out!

      Very interesting hub!

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      No, that would be a passion killer! But...there is a medical condition that causes us to think solid objects - beds, chairs and tables, etc., are shaking.

      Really, though, who knows what forms atoms - energy - can take? I often think I can sense movement close to me, out of the corner of my eye: could there be other forms around, undetectable to my human senses?

      Perhpas you have a horny apparition looking for a threesome! Bob

    • Spirit Whisperer profile image

      Xavier Nathan 6 years ago from Isle of Man

      We live with a ghost in our house and he/she is harmless. We hear the ghost walking about our room at night and sometimes the bed shakes, and no Bob we are not in the throws of passion at the time LOL! A very interesting read as always and voted up.

    • profile image

      diogenese 7 years ago

      Sorry to all who commented on this hub...for months, I didn't realize you could push a button to be notified when comments came: this is one of the earlier hubs that espaped my notice for that reason, but I truly appreciate your interest one and all. Bob

    • sfrentz06 profile image

      sfrentz06 7 years ago from Sterling Heights, MI, USA

      This hub is great, very entertaining. I had no idea there was an encyclopedia of ghosts, fascinating.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 7 years ago from South Africa

      Some years ago curiosity urged me to ‘study’ British royalty. I started with King Arthur and ended with Elizabeth II – summarized all together 80 books – and I was flabbergasted. The doings of human beings, especially those in power and/or seeking power, is mind-boggling. Just remembering a law proclaimed by King Henry VIII – People who poison others to be cooked alive in boiling water. Now how can we blame a poor soul who died in such agony for becoming a ghost, scaring us humans forever and ever? If the Tower of Londen could speak.... Thanks for this interesting hub.

    • PaperNotes profile image

      PaperNotes 7 years ago

      Ghosts stories are really interesting, well I speak for myself. By knowing what the ghosts have gone through while they were still alive, you will understand why they haunt the living. I wish I could have a copy of that book.

    • GarnetBird profile image

      Gloria Siess 7 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      The UK really has a tragic and fascinating past--I share with you an interest in British Legends--I read in a bio of Princess Diana that she felt Hampton Court was haunted, and would "never live there." Perhaps cursed would be a better word. I lived in England 1 year and used to hike to an old ruined abbey with a legend of a walled up nun or something. Well-written Hub!

    • cathylynn99 profile image

      cathylynn99 7 years ago from northeastern US


      there is no such thing as "homocidal schizophrenia". most schizophrenics hide in a corner and tremble at the terrifying things their brain cooks up. we hear about the few who are sure someone is trying to kill them,so kill that person. people who have mental illness commit no higher a percentage of crimes than the general population. in fact, people with mental illness have a higher rate of victimhood than the general population. this is widely misunderstood. the exception is sociopaths (psychopaths, folks who don't have a conscience). these people get their diagnosis partially by committing crimes.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 7 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Perhaps we are all influenced by the other side all our lives, like so much, no one really knows. Thanks for comment...Bob x

    • Amanda Severn profile image

      Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

      Hi Bob, you can chalk me up as a believer! I actually experienced a poltergeist many years ago, and it scared the living daylights out of me.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 7 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Thanks HH, read the book if you can get hold of it...Bob

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      A very amusingly written hub. Thank you, I enjoyed reading it.