Gotcha! “Ghost” caught on camera after years of spooky goings on at England’s most haunted castle was the startling headline some years ago in the UK Mirror. Built in 1071, Dudley is believed to be the most haunted castle in England, wrote the Mirror, with the Grey Lady the most famous spook. She is reputed to be the spirit of Dorothy Beaumont, who died, along with her baby, shortly after childbirth. On her deathbed, Dorothy asked for two things. Her wishes were not granted, so she is said to be condemned to wander the castle and its grounds for eternity.
Looking through the photographs they had clicked at the castle, a casual tourist couple, Dean and Amy Harper, noticed something very weird. “On zooming in we noticed on the bottom, inside an arch, there was a lady and what appears to be a little girl, too. Neither of us are ghost hunters but we do wonder if this could be the Grey Lady ghost—the picture is quite clear.” Jill Hitchman, head of media and communications at Dudley Zoo, which is in the castle grounds, said: “There have been many stories about ghostly figures and happenings associated with the castle…This image is incredible because it was taken from the top of the castle on a mobile phone camera and still manages to pick out the outline of what seems to be a female figure in the doorway.”
In 2015, the BBC carried a most interesting story by Howard Timberlake on ghost-photography. Ever since the camera was invented, wrote Timberlake, spooks have appeared in photos and goes on to quote Michael Pritchard, director-general of the Royal Photographic Society:“I am a sceptic from the perspective of a photographer and as someone who doesn’t believe in ghosts… there’s not a lot out there that can’t be attributed to some sort of photographic technique.”
Timberlake himself concludes that like the ghostly apparitions themselves, our thirst to see life beyond this mortal coil may itself be immortal—ever shape-shifting to fit the technology and science of the time. However, Timberlake’s article and several others I’ve read still don’t offer convincing explanations of CCTV footage like the one which spooked security at the Hampton Court Palace in London in 2003. The Hampton Court Palace was built in 1525 and was once home to King Henry VIII, who had one of his wives beheaded and his third wife, Jane Seymour, died in the palace while giving birth to their son. It has in fact long been rumored that Hampton Court Palace is home to several ghosts.
Referring to the still unexplained incident, USA Today wrote that the figure was caught on film after a fire alarm sounded in the palace, alerting the guards that the doors had been opened. The camera shows the fire doors opening, and then a figure appears at the door, reaching out as if to close the doors. When the guards arrived, the doors were closed and no one was there. The doors had opened at the same time, in a similar manner, the day before the figure was photographed, and opened the day after as well.
So actually, the door flew open on three consecutive days, with the “spectre” making his appearance and so far, no living soul has ever come forward to admit that this was their prank. What is even more interesting is that the ghostly figure is dressed in a long coat or dress, which has an edged, decorative split in the centre front. The sleeves of the outfit look to be wide and edged with decorative fabric. It appears to have long, dark, curly hair. The overall impression is that the figure belongs in the 16th century in dress and manner.
Such graphic description of clothing and others similar to it raise several question marks over assumptions like the one in my last column where I had mentioned that Troy Taylor, author of the Ghost Hunter’s Guidebook and President of the American Ghost Society had said: “If the spirits of the dead are really the personalities of people who once lived and are now masses of energy that have been freed from the human body, then it is natural that the camera captures them as it does… ghosts are captured on film as light, energy and as mysterious fogs and mists. I believe this is the form that ghosts are likely in and that the camera, as a non-thinking piece of equipment, can see them no other way.”
Cameras, both still and video, have in fact seen them in other ways too and captured very detailed images of ghosts and their clothing. Significantly, despite in-depth articles like the BBC one on ghost photography, the belief that ghosts can be photographed and filmed seems to have got stronger rather than weaker. Some experts claim that the Hampton Court Palace footage is proof of the existence of a ghost, while some claim that it is a hoax but cannot explain the hoax. The palace guards are believed to be innocent of any deception and do not enter the area of the palace where the figure was photographed.
Focusing on paranormal fashion and ghosts wearing human clothes, a portal that is no longer publishing once wondered like many others why spectres and spirits wear clothes if they are really just human energy stuck between worlds? Paranormal enthusiasts often report sighting spirits dressed in Victorian period clothing, flowing white dresses, or just jeans and t-shirts. But why do their manifestations include the manufactured convention of clothing? The portal consulted paranormal and death experts from around the globe on what ghosts are wearing and why. Sydney Parker wrote that Betty DuPont, director of Paranormal Investigators of New England (PI-NE) awoke one night to an apparition of a short man in an overcoat standing next to her bed. As to why an overcoat and not say, lederhosen, DuPont has a theory and some intriguing observations. Read about them and a whole relatively new industry of designing clothes for the dead in the next column.