Whately Hall Hotel
Location: Banbury, Oxfordshire
A 3 star hotel in an idyllic 17th Century setting with hidden staircases, original wooden beams & stone fireplaces offering 69 en suite rooms. Ideal for exploring the Cotswolds, Stratford Upon Avon, Oxford, Woodstock & Warwick. Hotel easily accessible via Junction 11 off the M40. Free car parking.
Overlooking the beautifully manicured gardens, this restaurant has magnificent oak panelling, an old closed fireplace and iron chandeliers which all work towards creating the most charming atmosphere.
With a fine collection of artwork and prints adorning its walls, this smaller Restaurant provides a more intimate affair. Ideal for those special candlelit celebrations or perhaps a family get-together.
An open fireplace, lead-lighting and oak panelled walls give the Horton Bar a more rustic feel. Relax in the comfortable loungers and armchairs while enjoying a quiet drink!
For more information about the hotel please visit their web site
† These prices are based on two people sharing a standard double or twin bedroom
In 1687 King James II visited Banbury and stayed in the current bedroom of the suite now numbered 52 or the Fathers Dyneing Room.
There are also known links with William Shakespeare and Benjamin Franklin.
The hotel has a great connection to Jonathan Swift, the author of "Gulliver's Travels" published in 1726. Swift was staying here when writing the book and took the name of his hero from a tombstone, which stood on the north side of the church. The name Gulliver may still clearly be seen on a plaque in the churchyard in memory of the original as time has taken its toll to this stone.
Room 52 has a sitting room which in the 17th century was a secret meeting place for a group of local catholic clergy. The sitting room was served by a secret passage that started in a cupboard and led down to room 20. This in turn led down to the Harness room and from there the escapee could make their way to the well entrance behind the building. This well gives access to a tunnel system via a small cast iron ladder set into its wall; the tunnel system is known to have led to a church - St Mary's or St John's and the Cross. It is also rumoured to go much further - perhaps as far out as far as Broughton Castle.
The priests and innkeeper had an alert system to announce the arrival of any persecutors of the catholic faith; a bell was rung by means of a pulley in the hall entrance. The priests would then head for the tunnels.
It is alleged that 4 days after the royal visit, on the 6th September 1687, during a meeting kept secret due to religious intolerances of the day, a cruel trick was played.
John Heuston, a member of staff of the Inn returning worse for wear from a lengthy session at the famous Cattle Mart, pulled the emergency cord. This prank set the priests into action, but the combination of narrow space, darkness and fear caused one priest to suffer a terror attack. This priest Father Bernard was so scared his heart stopped and he ended up dead at the base of the stairs.
It is believed that Father Bernard took to walking the passageways for the last 300 years in search of the prankster. It is fateful that Heuston in turn died a violent death by stabbing. This is thought to have occurred when co-workers and patrons of the Inn found out about the awful prank gone wrong.
The secret staircase within the building was blocked at each level over 100 years ago; the tunnel system under the town has suffered collapses at certain points over the years with only two known entrances still uncovered: the well in the garden and under the church.