The Ghost of the Tulip Stairs

There are a whole bunch of famous ‘photographs of ghosts’ – some of which are slightly less ridiculous than others, some more authenticated than others, some creepier than others, but as far as classic, almost stereotypical bugaboos are concerned, you’d go a long way to beat the snap that retired vicar, Reverend Ralph Hardy took on holiday in 1966 and which is now one of the most famous of its kind.

Rev. Hardy and his wife were visiting Greenwich from White Rock in British Columbia and were enjoying an afternoon at the Queen’s House. He decided to take a picture – like so many people before and after him – of the famous, delicate, ammonite-like (and, in my humble opinion, bloomin’ claustrophobic) Tulip Staircase, which was at the time off-limits to the public and was barricaded so no one could climb up. There is a list of the equipment and conditions under which he took the picture on the National Maritime Museum website (see below…)

When he got home and had his photos developed, he was stunned to see a shrouded figure clinging to the banister with both hands. To me it actually looks like two ghoulies – one chasing the other – either that or the poor ghost has two left hands. It’s undeniably creepy – but is it really a picture of a member of the spirit world? The photograph has undergone extensive ‘tests,’ including examinations by Kodak who can’t work out what’s happened, but are convinced it’s not double-exposed or otherwise tampered with.

Turning to Malcolm Godfrey, I discover the sad story of a housemaid who fell to her death over the handrail of the stairs, and who has been spotted trying to mop up her own blood from the floor at the bottom. Footsteps have also been heard trudging up and down, a school choir singing and doors banging. A spooky place indeed.

The National Maritime Museum has a longer account of the incident, including splendid photo of a seance held the following year by the Ghost Club and a list of what they ‘experienced.’

Proof of the spiritual world or about as authentic as The Crew of the Boundless? Either way, it’s quite fun…

Take a peek at it yourself:

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