Memories: Ghost of Queen Elizabeth I seen at Hatfield House
- Credit: Mia Jankowicz
The spectre of Elizabeth I was once spotted by two visitors to Hatfield House in 1951 – although not everybody was convinced.
According to the Welwyn Times of Friday, January 12 1951, two young women visiting the the house wrote to the curator at the time, Mr R.L. Drage, about their ghostly encounter with the stately home’s most distinguished royal resident.
Mr Drage told the newspaper that he was “convinced it was a genuine experience”.
“The friends had been to see the chapel, finished in 1611,” said the newspaper.
But then they visited the Long Gallery. “They came along a short corridor and found themselves at one end of the magnificent long Armoury ... beneath the 180-foot Long Gallery, the longest room in a private house in the world.
“As the women stood at the doorway, coming from the dark corridor into the brilliantly lit length of the Armoury, one of them saw what she took to be a wax model of Queen Elizabeth standing at the other end.
“She and her friend walked the length of the gallery to have a closer look, and found that the figure, which she had seen quite clearly, was not there.”
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The newspaper went on to explain that there was nothing else there that could be mistaken for Queen Bess in such clear light, other than the famed rainbow portrait of her a few feet away from where the girls spotted the figure.
Mr Drage was “quite certain that Elizabeth’s spirit, if not a visible form, does walk Hatfield House,” according to the newspaper.
“‘There is an atmosphere about the House which everybody who comes here feels immediately,’ he said. ‘The whole place is full of her spirit.’”
Not according to Mr H. Tompkins, vice president of the County Historical Association, though.
Armed with historical facts, he poured cold water on the haunting rumours in the letters page the following week, and invited the Society for Psychic Research to visit the house and weigh in.
“I wonder!” he wrote. “But why should Elizabeth haunt this house she never lived in as it was not built until she was dead?
“Surely it should be the Old Palace that she haunted if any.
“If she was worried about her successor James I, she would have haunted him at Theobalds.”