Haycock Manor Hotel in Wansford-in-England is one of Britain’s oldest and most haunted coaching inns, says RICK HALE
Situated along the beautiful River Nene in Cambridgeshire is the curiously named village of Wansford-in-England. It’s a picturesque village that is a popular getaway spot for those city dwellers that long for a slower pace in the rural areas just outside the big city.
According to legend, Wansford-in-England, got its odd name quite by accident.
In his book, A Tour Thro The Whole Island of Great Britain (1724), Daniel Defoe tells the tale of a local man who fell asleep on a hayrick.
When he yawned and awakened after a restful sleep, the man found himself floating down the River Nene to the sea.
As he floated, he called out to a man walking along the shores of the river, “Can you tell me where I am.”
The traveller called back, “In Wansford.” Puzzled by the response he called back, “In England?”
Of course this story is nothing more than a peculiar little tale meant to tickle the funny bone.
However, the people of Wansford take great pride in the story and even named a local hotel after the hayrick that served as the man’s boat, the Haycock Manor Hotel.
A luxurious hotel that has gained the reputation for being one of the finest in Cambridgeshire.
Nevertheless, the Haycock Manor Hotel has gained a second reputation, a haunted one.
Hauntings of Haycock Manor Hotel
Among its other restless souls, it is said to harbour the ghost of one of Britain’s most famous monarchs. A stay at the Haycock Manor Hotel is a stay among a royal ghost.
Built sometime in the 16th century, Haycock Manor Hotel is one of the oldest coaching inns in this region of Britain.
In its early days, Haycock Manor was a convenient stop for travelers making the journey between London and Stamford. The inn gave travelers a safe place to get a hot meal and a comfortable room to stay the night before continuing their trip.
As far as anyone knows the first recorded landlord of the inn was the much loved, William Hodgson,a gracious landlord who was known to welcome anyone who came to his door.
When he passed unexpectedly, the house changed hands several times until it was purchased by the Percival family who turned the inn into a successful farm that provided vegetables to the entire town.
The house changed hands once again in 1928, and seeing the potential in the building the new owners converted the house back into an inn. and it has remained that way ever since.
Although the building has always been known to be haunted, it wasn’t until the building was turned back into a hostelry that the ghosts of Haycock Manor began to present themselves on an almost daily basis. Including one of its most famous ghosts, Mary, queen of Scots.
The Ghost Of A Queen
In 1587 after being charged with treason, Mary was put on trial and found guilty of the charge brought against her. Several noblemen came to her defense and lobbied for a much lighter sentence, perhaps life or banishment. But all their pleading came to nothing. Mary Stuart was sentenced to execution, which means the former monarch would lose her head.
On her way to her date with the chopping block at nearby Fotheringay castle, Mary and her captors stopped to spend the night at the Haycock. Perhaps it was her feelings of loss and desperation that kept her soul tied to the hotel for all time.
Guests of the hotel have made the curious claim of hearing sobbing and pleading for mercy coming from the room where Mary spent her final night on Earth.
While other guests have claimed to see the regal apparition, believed to be Mary, wandering not only the halls of the Haycock but the grounds as well.
If it is indeed Mary, Queen of the Scots, she appears to be nothing more than an echo caught forever in time, as she doesn’t appear to pay the living any mind. She merely goes about her business until she fades from view.
Other Ghostly Activity
According to staff and guests, the ghost of the former monarch is not alone in haunting this charming country hotel. There are other ghostly goings-on to be experienced at the Haycock.
Shadowy human shapes have been witnessed seemingly skulking about the halls of the hotel. And ghostly apparitions of the long dead have been witnessed wandering the graves leading those that choose to follow them on losing goose chase.
Several rooms in the hotel are supposed to be places of untold terror. Over the years a number of guests have reported the uncomfortable sensation of unseen people watching them from the corners of their rooms.
while others have reported being awakened in the middle of the night by a person sitting on their beds or removing the bedclothes from their sleeping forms.
Haycock Manor Hotel has the distinction of being the oldest hotel in this area of south eastern Britain. But it also may share that distinction with being the most haunted as well.
Have you been to Haycock Manor Hotel? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below!