Ghosts of the Whately Hall Hotel, Banbury
16 May 2021 (Updated 20 September 2022)
This 17th-century hotel in the centre of Banbury is believed to be haunted by the ghost of a Catholic priest who was the victim of a cruel prank gone wrong in 1687.
A secret meeting place
During the 17th century when Catholics were subjected to persecution for practicing their faith, the sympathetic owner of the hotel would allow Catholics to use room 52 as a place to meet and worship in secret.
The arrangement was that one man would keep watch on the ground floor, and would pull a cord to ring a bell above to warn the worshiping Catholics of the approach of the authorities. This would allow the Catholics to flee down a secret stairway and escape.
A prank turns deadly
However, one fateful day a servant at the hotel thought it would be funny to ring the bell and watch the Catholic's panic and flee. Unfortunately, one of their number was an elderly gentleman named Father Bernard who has a weak heart. The shock of the bell and the hurried flight down the stairs was too much for him and he had a fatal heart attack.
Father Bernard's ghost is believed to still walk the halls of the hotel.
- 'Oxfordshire Ghost Stories' by Richard Holland (2013, The History Press, ISBN: 9781902674735)