Ghosts of the Tear Drop Room, Wallingford
3 March 2021 (Updated 30 July 2023)
The George Hotel is a 16th-century coaching inn that has a number of tales associated with it.
Haunted George Hotel, Wallingford
The ghost of a grief-stricken woman is said to haunt room 3, also known as the 'Tear Drop Room' on account of the unusual teardrop-shaped patterns on the room's wallpaper. This spectre has apparently been alarming hotel guests with her sobbing and wailings for many years. Some occupants of room 3 report being left with overpowering feelings of depression and remorse after encountering her.
Who haunts room 3 at the George Hotel, Wallingford?
I've encountered two different stories that claim to explain the origins of the George Hotel ghost.
The account given by Roger Long in his book Curious Oxfordshire tells the story of the daughter of a landlord of the George Hotel, who was happily engaged to be married to a young man of the town. However, before their marriage could come to pass the young man was attacked and beaten to death by burglars who invaded his home (some say on the orders of the landlord who disliked his daughter's fiancé). The landlord's daughter was so distraught by this that she lost her sanity, and was confined to room 3 at the George where she painted the teardrop patterns on the walls with her fingers and hair, using a mixture of soot and her own tears!
According to the George Hotel's website, the ghost is a 17th-century woman who painted the teardrops after learning of her lover's death in a brawl in the tap-room below, a Royalist soldier named John Robson. Haunted Inns and Taverns by Andrew Green adds the details that the woman took her own life by hanging herself in room 3.
John Robson or Hobson, hanged or murdered?
Roger Long also mentions a man by the name of Hobson (not Robson) who he says was murdered at the George Hotel in 1626, back when it was still known as the George and Dragon. Could be the John Robson mentioned above?
To complicate matters, Ghostpubs.com mentions that the pub is also haunted by a man who died in 1626, but says that he was not murdered at the George Hotel, but instead hanged nearby by the authorities for some unspecific crime!
As if things were not confusing enough, the version of the story told by Mike White in The Veiled Vale combined elements of all the above versions. In White's telling, John Hobson is a dashing soldier who stole the heart of the landlord's daughter until 3rd March 1626 when he was stabbed by another customer after a bar-room argument. No mention of burglary, hangings or any animosity between the murdered man and the landlord.
As with many popular local legends, it appears that the story has become somewhat muddled as it has been told and retold over the years!
Two phantom children have also been reported standing near a washbasin in another of the George Hotel's rooms. It's unclear whether they're related to the wailing woman, and I haven't read any proposed explanations for their presence.
Yet another ghost at the George Hotel is mentioned by Mike White in The Veiled Vale, that of an previous landlord whose footsteps are said to be heard pacing the upstairs hallway.
Dick Turpin's getaway
The hotel also boasts a connection with the famous highwayman Dick Turpin.
Turpin is supposed to have regularly stayed at the inn and have once evaded capture by the authorities by jumping from the window of his room onto the back of his steed Black Bess in the courtyard below!
- 'Haunted Inns and Taverns' by Andrew Green (ISBN: 0747802947)