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Richmond Bridge, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames

Ghosts, light humour and serious beliefs, item 24

Do ghosts exist? Many believe that the spirits or souls of those who have left Earth continue to exist. Investigations into the paranormal have been undertaken by psychics, amateurs ghost busters and scientific groups for centuries, and one thing they’ve learned is that ghosts are real. Some of the stories that surround specific sightings may be elaborated, but the energy and frequency that surrounds spiritual entities can be measured by modern scientific instruments.

For every 257 orbits of our moon, 29 different moons gather in mutual eclipse. When these moons gather, they have the potential to create a portal between our world and the spirit world. Some believe this is the case at the former site of the royal residence of Sheen in Surrey along the banks of the Thames.

At the edges of the Richmond Bridge, built in the middle 1700s, there once was operated a ferry crossing that took passengers between Richmond (Surrey) and Twickenham (Middlesex). A royal abode had been in place there since 1299.

In residence at Sheen Palace in the year 1385 (later called Richmond Palace for Henry VII, the Earl of Richmond) almost four hundred years before the bridge was built, was the courtier Michael de la Pole, friend to Richard II, and de la Pole’s daughter, Anne.

The ferry was of course owned by the Crown but it was run by one William Brown and his son, Thomas, who had fallen in love with Anne de la Pole. She would signal him from near the gate house and he would signal back from the shore, whereupon she would come to the river bank to meet him.

When their illicit meetings were discovered, the boy was summarily transported to serve in the ongoing war with France for seven years, only to find upon his return that his beloved had thrown herself into the river and drowned, for she had been shamed.

The Gate House, one of the few vestigial bits that still survives of what was later Richmond Palace, has been the site of ghostly occurrences for more than six hundred years. Once each year when the moons align, eerie sounds can be heard between the Gate House and the bridge.

Witnesses say they hear a young girl crying and the water around the bridge splashes wildly, though nothing can be seen in the water. Others say they hear footsteps running along the bridge but can see no evidence of anyone on it.

Spectators who attempt to walk along the bridge in order to gain a glimpse of the apparition when the footsteps are heard say they feel the physical presence of a strange force that they cannot see or identify. People have been lifted from the ground, struck, shoved about, or suffused with a feeling of sadness.

There’s no way to identify the spirits that continue to haunt Richmond Bridge and the grounds of the former palace, but they are believed to be the boy, Thomas Brown, and Anne de la Pole.

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