Governor’s Palace

Governor's Palace

The Governor’s Palace, built in the late 1930s. The original building was destroyed by fire in 1781 while it was used as a hospital for American soldiers wounded at the Battle of Yorktown. Before its final days as a hospital, the Governor’s Palace, originally constructed in 1710, held the largest and most extravagant parties in the Colony of Virginia. During the reconstruction, they discovered hundreds of skeletons. Buried with them were musket balls with bite marks on them. Wounded soldiers would be given a musket ball to bite on for the pain during amputation or surgery. This is where the phrase “to bite the bullet” comes from. Along with a memorial to the fallen soldiers is a beautiful winding hedge maze. One evening after the Palace was rebuilt, two William and Mary students out on a romantic stroll decided to be adventurous and jump the Palace wall and make their way through the romantic gardens and winding hedge maze. The man helped his date over the wall, and as she made her way down on the other side, he heard her let out a terrifying scream. As he was making his way over the wall, he saw a man with a large scythe cut the girl’s neck open, killing her instantly. The killer, a crazed escaped patient from the Eastern State Lunatic Asylum, dropped the weapon and fled.

A William and Mary tradition involves jumping the wall of the governor’s palace late at night and making your way through the winding hedge maze. It is the scariest thing you can do in Williamsburg. Colonial Williamsburg security knows this, and so a cat and mouse game ensues between students and security. To catch the younger, faster, and numerically superior students, the guards would often work in pairs, with one at each end of the maze to flush the students out.   One night, one of the guards heard footsteps coming from around the corner of the maze’s exit, as he waited to apprehend them. When he heard they were close enough, he turned around the corner, shouted, “come on out lets get this over with” and turned on his light. When he turned on his light, there was no one there. Yet, he still heard the footsteps making their way close and closer in front of them, until they were right in front of him. And then, they continued walking directly behind him. He radioed to his partner, who, although hearing footsteps himself, could not find anyone. The two ran out of the Palace, and knew that whatever was in there, it wasn’t a person. Students who make their way through the ominous maze also report that there is something else in the maze with them. Some claim they have seen the ghost of the murdered girl who had her throat cut open. Others say they see black shadows moving around the maze with them, as well as footsteps and whispering. Security also responded to reports someone was walking through the third floor with a flashlight or candle. When they made their way inside they smelled a strong scent of a candle, but could not find anyone. They do not leave candles lying around in the building, and the security system did not detect anyone entering the palace. When they closed up and went back to their car, one of them looked up and saw a light moving through the second floor. They rushed back inside, and each man ran up each side to the second floor. Again, they smelled a strong candle scent as if it had just been lit. But, they found no one.