Author Rick Hale explores the haunting of Brownsover Hall Hotel and the bizarre circumstances surrounding it.

A one-handed apparition is said to have created havoc in the Brownsover Hal Hotel in Rugby over the years.
A one-handed apparition is said to have created havoc in the Brownsover Hal Hotel in Rugby over the years.

Brownsover Hall Hotel

Brownsover Lane, Rugby, CV21 1HU

If ever there was an English hotel that looks like it should be haunted, Rugby’s Brownsover Hall Hotel would be it.

This picturesque masterpiece of Gothic architecture doesn’t just look the part of a haunted building, it very much is haunted.

And it is haunted by an unpleasant wraith with a nasty disposition known as, One-handed Boughton.

History Of Brownsover Hall Hotel

Brownsover Hall Hotel is a Grade II* listed building with a long and troubled history that makes it the perfect setting for a haunting.

The manor of Brownsover was constructed in 1471 by the Boughton family, later known as the Boughton Baronets.

In the 18th century, Sir Theodosius Boughton, was murdered by his brother in law in a fit of rage.

It’s believed this savage murder led to the haunting of Brownsover Hall, and the bizarre circumstances surrounding it.

The Exorcism of One-handed Boughton

Not long after the murder of Sir Theodosius, what was believed to be his spirit began to cause quite the disturbance in the house.

Staff of the manor reported hearing the unmistakable sounds of anguished moaning throughout the house.

They further reported what sounded like running footsteps accompanied by disembodied voices in the corridors of the large house.

However, it was the appearance of a one-handed apparition, believed to be Sir Theodosius back from the grave to wreak vengeance that prompted the family to take peculiar actions to rid the house of the troublesome ghost.

Twelve clergymen from the Catholic and Protestant traditions were summoned to the house to rid it of the spirit that was becoming a nuisance.

The clergymen claimed they were able to persuade the spirit to enter a special bottle blessed by the bishop.

Believing they were successful in the strange venture, they took the bottle and discarded it in a nearby lake.

The family was finally rid of the spirit that plagued their house. Or so, they thought.

According to legend, fishermen discovered the bottle one day as they were fishing in the lake.

Curious as to what was in the bottle, the fishermen opened it and unwittingly unleashed the spirit of One-handed Boughton.

One-handed Broughton haunts Brownsover Hall still…

Ever since that fateful day, Brownsover Hall Hotel has been haunted by the sinister presence of One-handed Boughton.

It would be simple to dismiss this strange story as nothing more than a tall tale invented to chill the bones of the listener.

Nevertheless, according to both staff and guests of the Gothic hotel, the spirit of One-handed Boughton is very much real.

And if there is any truth to the stories, he is just as unpleasant as he was well over a century ago.

The scowling apparition of a one handed man in 18th century garb has been encountered throughout the hotel.

This spirit seems to derive a great deal of delight in scaring those unlucky enough to cross his path.

Guests have reported hearing disembodied voices and a cold chill accompanied by the sounds of swiftly moving footsteps in the halls.

Staff have reported the uncomfortable feeling of being watched by an unseen presence as they go about their daily duties. Resulting in several employees promptly quitting their job.

Brownsover Hall Hotel is conveniently located in Rugby, Warwickshire. The hotel has become a popular venue for weddings, formal parties and conferences.

The hotel offers large bedrooms, the Gilbert Scott restaurant and the Warwick bar. Your stay at this Gothic hotel is sure to be a memorable experience.

Especially if you should run into its resident ghost, old One-handed Boughton.

If you’ve ever stayed at Brownsover Hall Hotel, or held a function there and you had a supernatural experience, please tell us about it in the comment section.

Rick Hale, is a native of Chicago, Illinois and first became interested in the paranormal after having a positive interaction with an apparition at a young age. Rick is the author of The Geek's Guide To The Strange and Unusual: Poltergeists, Ghosts and Demons. Behold! Shocking True Tales of Terror...and Some Other Spooky Stuff. And Bullets, Booze and Babes: The Haunted History of Chicago and Illinois. Rick is the co-host of The Shadow Initiative Paranormal Talk. Rick was featured in the documentary Ghost Tapes 2. Rick is a featured writer for Spooky Isles and Rick has also been published by Haunted Times, Paranormal Underground, The Supernatural Magazine and Legends Magazine.


  1. Having worked as a casual night porter there many years ago, there does certainly seem to be some kind of unexplained presence there although I personally never encountered it.
    They say that animals are more susceptible than humans, but back then we had a cat who was happy to sit behind reception all night. And often muntjac dear could be seen grazing on the lawn outside at dawn and with no fear.
    Imagine being the only person there during the dead of night during a thunderstorm.

  2. Stayed there in 1987 while working with GEC. Woke up in the night to 3 ice cold breezes rushing across me. I was under a quilt when it happened. I was in the room near the tower. When I told my colleagues about it at breakfast the staff immediately knew which room I was in.

  3. The history here is very muddled! Two very good stories have been confused. The original Boughton home dating from 1471 was not even on this site. It was Lawford Hall, a mile or two away to the west of Rugby. This is where the murder of young Sir Theodosius by his brother-in-law John Donellan took place – not as a result of ‘a fit of rage’ but in cold blood, to gain his inheritance. Sir Theodosius was buried, exhumed and reburied at Newbold on Avon, not at Brownsover. After the murder, and the subsequent hanging of John Donellan, the old house gained such a fearsome reputation (and such numbers of sightseers) that it was pulled down in 1784 and the family moved to Brownsover. The tale of the ghost in the bottle is a different story; One Handed Boughton died two centuries before the murdered earl. His troublesome spirit is said to have been coaxed into the bottle, which was eventually moved to Brownsover when the family left Lawford Hall. Enraged by the demolition of his home, he became even more of a nuisance and the bottle was supposedly buried somewhere at Brownsover and secured with a layer of concrete.

  4. I stay there sometimes and it’s really not that bad. Not all the spirits are bad, just the one and I haven’t encountered him yet. There are some nice spirits and they won’t ever scare you or hurt you. If you understand spirit you would know.

  5. I was lucky enough to stay here, in the stable block, and one evening I heard the ghost of the horse and cart pass along the driveway! With regards to the ghost in the bottle I heard that the bottle remained sealed and is kept in the locked tower at the front of the house! Xx

  6. I lived in Newbold Manor in Newbold on Avon and have carried out lot a research into the ghost over the years.

    I have some copies of original research into the ghost plus my own written accounts. We experienced quite a lot of seriously spooky phenomena while living in the Manor House.

    The bottle was allegedly stored at the Manor House in an old cabinet before we moved in and we had the cabinet in our possession.

    The legend of the bottle being buried in concrete followed a second exorcism at Brownsover Hall and came with an agreement with the spirit that he should be allowed out to drive his carriage and six once a year in the grounds at Brownsover Hall. The bottle was unstoppered for this by a member of the family annually. I was always confused as to how this could happen if it was stuck in a block of concrete!

    My own research led me to believe that the actual bottle is still kept in a security deposit box in an estate agents in Rugby town centre as part of a family agreement.

    The legend of how the ghost lost his hand is told in three parts: one it got destroyed by lightning strike while he was out riding, two it was severed in a dual and the third, which was the most plausible, was the result of a boat race from the Isle of Wight to the mainland – the winner of which would inherit the three houses in the estate due to the lack of a will. The one who became the ghost was losing the race and the conditions of the contest were that the one who first touches the soil of the mainland inherits the estate. As he was in last he decided to chop off his hand and threw it onto shore. In this way he technically won the race as he touched the shore first.

    He got his inheritance yet the stump soon became infected and he died. The reason for the haunting were that he decided, post mortem, to claim what he believed to be rightfully his.

    The last Boughton-Leigh was Henry and he took the legend to his grave not so long ago from what I can find out.

    If you are interested in finding out more about this then please get in touch as I am keen to share my research from the past 30 years or so into the ghost and having actually lived in one of the houses for a number of years have quite a lot to share!!


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