Fortean Phantom

Today I bring you something very odd indeed, courtesy of Haydn in Notting Hill.

Greenwich has the spooky honour of being the venue for one of the most famous ‘ghost’ photographs ever – the Ghost of the Tulip Stairs in the Queens House. Curiously, the Queen’s House is in this photograph too, taken by Haydn on Boxing Day last year, but only, he tells me, scrutinised a week or so ago. Could it be a rival to the famous Tulip Phantom? Who can tell. I present it to you today, for your consideration – Haydn – and myself – await your thoughts – especially the photographers and paranormal enthusiasts among you…

You’ll probably have to click on the images to get them big enough to really see what I’m talking about here. Such is Blogger.

We’re talking about the funny little dwarf-like character who appears to be hanging around the flowerbeds in a suspicious manner. Here – this is what I mean:

If you look, he’s much, much smaller than the ‘mortal’ couple striding along next to him, and much fuzzier. With not an awful lot of imagination it’s possible to make out a frock coat, wig and rather florid face and hand, though Haydn points out that the shoulder’s at a bit of an odd angle. The character’s cane/sword is the brightest thing about him – and oddly, if you fiddle with the contrast button on the picture, it’s also the only part of the photo that’s completely burned-out.

He looks like a painting – if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s a digital pic, I’d think it was one of those old double exposures that used to happen occasionally with film. I even wondered if he was a cardboard cut-out left over from an exhibition, though what it would be doing in a flowerbed on Boxing Day is anyone’s guess.

Haydn wondered if it could be the tragic Admiral Byng, whose ghost is said to walk the Old Royal Naval College, but I’m not convinced – Byng was a prisoner in a very specific part of the then Greenwich Hospital, which had nothing to do with the Queen’s House; I can’t imagine he’d have been allowed to wander around the park.

I guess a possibility could be a Greenwich Pensioner – several of them are supposed to haunt the area, and their uniforms were of a much older period than the one in which they lived.

Haydn sent me the hi-res of this, which, sadly, I can’t reproduce here, but I showed it to several people who know more about both phtotography and ghosts than me and I’ve had a mixed reaction. Some are convinced it’s a fake, but can’t tell exactly how, others are more open to other interpretations. Haydn tells me the photo is untouched, save for the obvious red box and a lightening of 8%.

Here is a slightly fuzzy enlargement of the strange, creepy little fellow:

I spent some time peering at it myself. It’s curious that the dark area behind him is as fuzzy as the ghost itself, when much of the other greenery is sharp, but there are a lot of trees around there, and it’s possible it’s in shadow.

I did go and have a peek at the actual place, but stupidly forgot to bring a copy of the picture with me, so wasn’t able to exactly pinpoint the spot again – besides, being camera-less just now (not that I’m going on about it or anything…) I couldn’t have taken a pic anyway. He seems to be at a lower level than the current flower bed, but that’s no surprise – it would have been raised several feet by generations of gardeners applying a thick layer of manure every year. If anyone with a camera’s going near that part of the park, I’d love a picture of that spot…

But what do you think? Have you any ideas of what – or who – this could be? Were you in Greenwich Park on Boxing Day? Did you see anything weird? Are you the happy couple in the photo? Did you see anything strange? Are you an expert on paranormal photography? Or, for that matter, any kind of photography?

What do you make of this picture? I confess I’m stumped…


One Comment to “Fortean Phantom”

  1. Paul says:

    Why are people always so quick to proclaim these kind of things as ghosties and goblins? Almost immediately you’ve implied that it’s a ghost, and then spent the rest of your post hypothesising about who it might be the ghost of. You then ask for opinions from “paranormal enthusiasts”.

    Surely asking for opinions from people who can provide a rational explanation would be far more useful? The whole paranormal field would be far less of a joke if its proponents were even slightly rational. Did it never occur to you that the reason the figure is small is far more likely to be because it’s a child?

    To my eyes, this is quite clearly a child who has raced ahead on their scooter and is now waiting for their parents to catch up.

    Don’t you think that’s more likely than the ghost-painting of a dwarf-pensioner wearing a frock-coat and carrying a sword?