Built by Henry VIII, St James's Palace is one of the principle residences of the Kings and Queens of England. The most famous ghost that haunts the palace is that of Joseph Sellis's, who's apparition is often seen with his throat slit.

Present day St James's Palace is the residence of Prince Charles when he is in London. Its most famous haunting, however, dates from the first half of the 19th century. In the early hours of May 31st 1810, Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland and brother to George 1V and William 1V, was awoken from a deep sleep at around 2.30am.

St James's Palace

The next thing he knew, he was subjected to a ferocious attack, as a sharp bladed weapon began slashing at his padded nightcap and gown. As he attempted to deflect the blows, his hands and wrists were cut, and in desperation he screamed for help. A valet by the name of Cornelius Neale rushed to assist, and found the Duke's saber, covered in blood, lying on the floor by the door.

A doctor was summoned, and as his wounds were being treated, Cumberland asked for his other valet, Joseph Sellis to be sent for. Two servants went to rouse him, but as they approached his room, they were startled by a strange gurgling sound from within. Opening the door, they found Sellis lying dead on his bed. His throat had been cut back to the spine and his head almost severed from his body. A hastily convened inquest concluded that the dead valet had, for reasons unknown, attempted to murder his master, and in remorse had returned to his room to commit suicide.

Court gossip, however, had a different take on the matter, and talk of a cover up was rife. Some said that Cumberland had, in fact, murdered Sellis and pointed out that Sellis's hands were found to be clean and that there was bloodstained water in his wash - basin. Would the valet, the doubters wondered, if he had the time or the inclination to wash his hands, having, apparently, almost cut his head off?

Several alternative scenarios were soon circulating as to what had really happened. One version maintained that Sellis had found the Duke in bed with his wife and, in an ensuing struggle, had been killed to stop him exposing Cumberland's adultery; another held that Cumberland had seduced Sellis's daughter who, finding herself with child, had committed suicide. When Sellis confronted his employer, the Duke had silenced him forever to avert a scandal.

It is Joseph Sellis's ghost that now haunts St James Palace, his apparition is often seen propped up in bed jaw hanging open, over a slit throat, other visitors have seen a dark figure walking the corridors. It has been reported that the smell of fresh blood accompanies the ghost.

In the bed chamber where Joseph Sellis died staff at the Palace have complained of the feeling of being watched, cold spots in the room, items being moved and reappearing in strange places. Guests with no knowledge of the buildings history have picked up on the strange atmosphere in the room.