Folklore claims that ghosts are nearest this realm on Christmas eve. They love listening to Christmas carols and go about among the living. In Italy there was once a charming custom of singing Christmas songs around carpenter’s shops in honor of St. Joseph. I don’t know if it holds true still but I love to think of it continuing.
Ghosts tend to visit the places they knew in life at this time of year. So don’t be surprised to see an old departed friend in his favorite chair tonight. That is the inspiration of the setting of a Christmas Carol. Marley could be seen at last in his former home and rattle his chains. In Victorian times ghosts stories were a popular Christmas Eve event after dinner of course. Figgy pudding and phantoms. Boo!
A documented infamous ghost of Christmas Eve is Anne Boleyn at Hever Castle. It was her childhood home and it is where King Henry VIII is thought to have courted Anne as well as her sister. She is a sad and sullen ghost who is seen crossing the bridge over the river Eden. In death she seems to regret leaving the happy days at Hever for the road that led her to the executioner’s blade.
Other reports have her being drawn by a coach with six headless horses, driven by a headless horseman while she holds her freshly severed head as an elegant and gruesome passenger. With all that blood and a silken gown one hopes there is scotchgard in the afterlife. Headless horses are linked with diabolical doings and witchery. Charges Anne Boleyn faced along with adultery and are thought to be untrue. Perhaps, sadly, they stain the soul all the same or just help make the ghost stories all the richer. The vision with headless horses, horseman and Anne is reported at another home, Blicking Hall, on the anniversary of her death. At Christmas time a beautifully dressed headless witch haunts Rochford district of Essex for twelve nights. The headlessness makes it hard to identify the specter but Anne lived in Rochford Hall as a child. Anne’s image is also seen looking out a window at Windsor Castle.
Yet no place is Anne Boleyn more seen than in the Tower of London where she spent her final days. Her specter has been blamed for at least one death, exonerated a guard who claimed he fainted at his post and didn’t fall asleep, and frightened countless bayonet happy sentries through the years. She has usually been seen cradling her head under her arm but sometimes she leaves home without it for a quick flight about the tower.
Whatever is spooky fact or fiction we may never know unless we can make it to Hever Castle in time for her crossing tonight or some Christmas Eve. Anne Boleyn must have cornered the market on headless ponies in the afterlife and may let you ride one on a cold winter’s night for a song.
More royal ghosties here.