Oxfordshire‘s Mercure Banbury Whately Hall Hotel is a classic haunted hotel, with tales of ghosts, intrigue and plenty of secret passageways and stairs!
People who have stayed at the Mercure Banbury Whately Hall Hotel say they have seen the ghost of a Catholic priest named Father Bernard. He is said to be a happy ghost, even though his death was shocking.
Back in the 1700s, Catholics who openly practised their faith were a target of persecution by the authorities. However, thanks to the Mercure Banbury Whately Hall Hotel’s then-owner, Catholics had free reign of Room 52 in the hotel to worship.
One man would stand guard on the lower level and, when he saw officials approaching, he would pull a cord to set off a bell, alerting the congregation. They could use the stairwell to get away.
However, one day in 1687, a drunken servant named John Heuston pulled the cord as a joke just to see what would happen.
Petrified of being exposed, the already-ailing Father Bernard had a heart attack. At the bottom of the stairs, he was found dead. The practical joker was also killed. According to legend, Heuston’s coworkers and hotel guests found out about his crime and stabbed him to death.
There appears to be an inconsistency between the various accounts of Father Bernard’s death, with at least one claiming that he passed away of natural causes.
No matter what happened to the fallen priest, the stories about his ghost’s cheerful disposition as he flies through the halls remain the same. His ghost frequently appears in the stairwell as well as other parts of the property, sometimes bouncing around and/or hiding his face with a cowl.
The Haunting of the Mercure Banbury Whately Hall Hotel
Room 52 is now known as the “Fathers Dyneing Room”, and you can stay in it.
The hotel’s website tells the tale of visitors to the room: “Late in the year 1913 a guest by the name of Michael Murray and his wife stayed in room 52. Whilst having supper in the sitting room saw the room to the door open, revealing a robed figure. A chill was said to have settled over the room, which lasted during the figures presence. After a minute the figure is said to have dissipated. New marks were noted to have appeared on the doorframe, which Mrs Murray believed were due to the prayer beads in the figure’s hand.”
This historic inn dates back to 1677 and has many original features, including stone passages, priests’ holes, and a fine wooden staircase, as well as beautiful manicured gardens in the back.
The hotel has its own gardens and has a croquet lawn. It has a restaurant with free Wi-Fi, a bar, and parking that is free of charge. The Swift restaurant has oak panelling, a fireplace, and iron chandeliers, giving it a 17th-century atmosphere. The Horton Bar is a cosy place with a menu of snacks.
The rooms at the hotel are modern and comfortable. Each one has a tea/coffee maker, a work desk, and a bathroom. The hotel also has a breakfast that you can grab and go.
The Mercure Banbury Whately Hall Hotel is on the famous Banbury Cross, known for the popular nursery rhyme “Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross”.
It takes 5 minutes to get to Broughton Castle, and it takes about 15 minutes to get to Upton. It’s also a short walk from the train station.
Banbury, an ancient town on the River Cherwell in Oxfordshire, is a quaint place to eat, drink and shop, and has plenty to offer even if you don’t see the ghost.
Have you visited the Mercure Banbury Whately Hall Hotel? Tell us about your experiences in the comments section below!