The gothic Windsor hotel used in Hammer Horror films where ‘accidental drownings’ and ‘witchcraft’ took place
Oakley Court in Windsor is an upscale five-star hotel with a Victorian facade – but it also hides a gory past.
The building is infamous for being the backdrop of numerous Hammer and horror films such as The Curse of Frankenstein and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
The gothic manor was built in 1859 in Windsor, next to the River Thames, and was owned by Sir Richard Hall Say, the sheriff of Berkshire.
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After years of inherited ownership, the building was bought by Ernest Olivier in 1919, who was the Turkish Consul-General in Monte Carlo.
During the Second World War, the house became the secret headquarters of the French Resistance.
Olivier died in 1965 and Hammer film productions thought that the building was the perfect backdrop for their gory horror films, shooting their first five movies there.
According to Berkshire Folklore, in the 1960s and 70s, the building had a bad reputation for being ‘evil’, with people spotting ghostly hooded figures around the grounds.
Around this time there were also several accidental drownings inside the building and outside in the Thames, with rumours that some had actually committed suicide after the activity in the house had driven them stir crazy.
In the 60’s the building had been turned into flats and paranormal activity intensified with residents reporting strange noises that had come from rooms that were unoccupied.
Dismissing its reputation, one family moved into an apartment in the converted servants’ quarters and within three years two of their children had died by drowning.
In 1972, the mother, Penelope Gallerneault reported that she had started to see strange apparitions at Oakley Court.
“I started to see people walking in the grounds wearing hoods.
“One morning I found a box on the doorstep. When I opened it I was horrified to see the body of one of my cats with its neck broken,” she said.
Penelope also told reporters: “The house has an aura of evil, and I could never go back there.
“Horror films being made there might seem like a joke. I’m sure evil has rubbed off on the place or something awful has been invoked.”
A senior policeman who had responded to calls about strange sightings in the area said “there have been some strange happenings at the house, which have never been fully explained.
“We made regular patrols after complaints about witchcraft being practiced and things seem to have quietened down now.”
Reports of these haunted, other-worldly activities dissipated with time, but some visitors still report strange goings on.
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In 2016 one customer called Nick H left a review of his stay on TripAdvisor and said that the hotel “definitely lives up to its haunted reputation.”
“My girlfriend and I spent a sleepless night in the hotel, after both independently experiencing a bizarre, cold, and uncomfortable presence in room 337, for most of the night,” he said.
“I considered asking the duty manager on check out if there had been similar complaints or sightings but decided I might be laughed at.
“Needless to say we were astounded when we got home and googled ‘Oakley Court Hotel Haunting’.
“If you are looking for an authentic murder mystery night venue, then I recommend highly.”
All of the gothic horror films and TV shows that have been shot inside Oakley Court:
- The Rocky Horror Picture Show
- Dracula (2020)
- Murder by Death
- Daughters of Darkness
- The Curse of Frankenstein
- Theatre of Blood
- The Brides of Dracula
- Dracula Prince of Darkness
- Murder by Decree
- The Plague of the Zombies
- Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny & Girly
- The Evil of Frankenstein
- And Now the Screaming Starts
- The Hound of the Baskervilles
- Monster of Terror
- The Reptile
- The Old Dark House
- The Mutations
- The Wildcats of St Trinians
- The House in Nightmare Park
- The Scarlet Blade
- The Projected Blade
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