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The Grey Lady
Royal Victoria Hospital
The Royal Victoria Hospital was a military hospital in Netley, Hampshire in the UK, an imposing building from 1856 and demolished in 1966. During the Second World War it was 28th US General Hospital. There was some controversy about the design of the hospital when it was built and did not receive the approval of Florence Nightingale – the champion of the wounded soldier. It was the largest British military hospital of its day.
It was badly designed, badly ventilated and a grim place to be sectioned.
In the early late 1950s my father was serving in the Royal Army Medical Corp at the hospital, after he was wounded in action and flown back to the UK. It was a grim place, foreboding and sombre. At that time, it was in use to treat Army and Navy personnel suffering from psychiatric problems, STDs (Dad didn’t tell me that), and addictions. The rear of the old hospital was the psych unit.
My late father was a storyteller and imaginative - I’m certain some of the tales he told us had a little embellishment here and there. That said one story he’d tell us he swore was true – the time he saw the Grey Lady – the Ghost of Netley Hospital.
My father was not a man to particularly believe in an afterlife, or ghosts in general but he swore he’s seen an apparition. There was, he said, a ledger in the hospital of sightings and strange occurrences. It was not just your average squaddie – higher ranking officers, medical staff and civilians had seen a ghost.
One night, when Dad was on patrol with another soldier they passed a corridor, containing a locked door. It was always locked. As they passed the door opened and a woman clad in an old-fashioned nurse’s uniform walked past them… and disappeared. They had seen the Grey Lady. Dad told me he’d never run as fast in all his life.
So, who had she been? There are mixed rumours – a nurse who’d accidentally killed a patient and committed suicide from remorse, or, as my father believed, a nurse who’d fallen in love with a patient and went mad with grief when he returned to the war and then was killed in action. She walked the grounds, and some said her appearance heralded a death – but in a hospital that’s not unlikely.
Another notion is the nurse’s lover was also seeing another woman, and so she killed him and then herself.
Other people within RAMC and QARANC (Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps) had also seen her.
Since the building’s demolition the ghosts have not been seen. Do I believe my father saw a ghost? I believe he thought so.
There’s also the ghost of an old blind monk, said to guard some hidden treasure in the chapel (which still remains). The treasure is believed to be concealed at the end of a long tunnel – and an explorer was literally frightened to death by what he found there.
© A.L. Butcher
There are several books about the hospital and it’s ghosts.
Learn more here:
10/7/2021 06:45:37 am
It must have been quite an experience for your Dad! Working the night shift in hospitals, I've often felt as if someone was watching me or following me, which always made me quicken my steps. But luckily, I've never seen a ghost.
Slate R. Raven
10/7/2021 06:54:04 am
Wonderful post! My father isn’t much of a conversationalist, he’s a quiet man. However when he tells a story there’s always a point he making. If he ever told me a story like that, I wouldn’t doubt even a bit of it. I toured a very old mental hospital where many died of TB when I was visiting out west. I swear there was a presence in every room in that joint!
Cindy J. Smith
10/7/2021 07:32:15 am
Wow, first, thank you to your father for his service. I agree with Erika and Slate, I have been at old hospitals, both abandoned and still in use, that had me looking over my shoulder. I believe your dad, and commend him for sharing this story which opened you to the possibility of an expanded reality,
Lorraine A Carey
10/7/2021 08:15:25 am
I've read different accounts of this ghostly apparition. Being a paranormal enthusiast I really enjoyed this post. I'm going to dig deeper into this one. I do believe spirits will linger if they have a connection to a place or unresolved business.
10/9/2021 05:43:04 am
There are a few versions, as with most ghost stories. Dad was convinced he'd seen something not of this world.
10/7/2021 11:43:16 am
Fascinating take on the Grey Lady. I loved the ghost story. It's not everyday that one sees a ghost unless, of course, you are in a place that is so ripe for such activity. I wonder where she went... perhaps she followed one of the workers home.
10/7/2021 05:25:54 pm
Fascinating history! What an interesting story. I think lots of people have seen or felt things they can't explain.
10/8/2021 05:38:01 am
What a fascinating story. I can imagine that your father got really scared.
R. A. “Doc” Correa
10/8/2021 09:29:56 am
Very interesting A.L. I trained with the paras at Aldershot and they gave us some very interesting tours of UK museums. This was not included in the stories they told us, a shame, it’s a great tale.
10/8/2021 06:55:00 pm
This was a wonderful story. I am one of the people that believe in ghosts so this story was very intriguing to me. My mom had a similar story from her village and I made her tell me over and over again. Your dad sounds like a wonderful man.. Loved the post
10/9/2021 05:36:51 am
Thanks, Dad would often tell this story. He was very proud of his army service. If he hadn't been wounded in action he'd have stayed in - but then he'd probably never have met and married my late mother. She was a nurse in Queen Alexandra's Royal Nursing Corp - apparently he saw my mum out with her friend and told his friend he was going to marry that woman. And he did. They were married just short of 50 years when my mother passed away.
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