Everybody has a past and at The Oakley Court, ours includes royalty, spies, Napoleon and a Rocky Horror Picture Show.
We weren’t always a luxury country house hotel in Windsor. Life began way back before the days of Dracula dining at our table and The Phantom staging his famous opera. But before we go any further, we promise you there’s no skeletons in our closet. You can put the cushions down – behind the scenes, our story is thriller-free.
The scene begins with a flashback, a Time Warp to our unique history. Dating back to 1859 before our movie career even began, a chap called Sir Richard Hall-Say built the house for his young wife and their three children. Sir Richard later sold the property, after his appointment as High Sheriff of Berkshire, to the rather well-connected Lord Otho Fitzgerald. It was during his time at The Oakley Court that famous names began to grace the stage including the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII!), Leslie Ward (The famed SPY artist of Vanity Fair) and Napoleon IV, the last survivor of the Napoleon dynasty – to name just a few.
Let us take you through a montage, there’s a lot to take in!
After changing hands from a Sheriff to a founder of Avery Scales and then his son, it wasn’t until The Oakley Court was bought by eccentric Frenchman, Ernest Olivier, that the hotel became the famous backdrop for classic horror. Five films were made by Hammer within the grounds in 1949 including ‘The Man in Black’ starring a young Sid James. While shooting here Hammer found Down Place, later the home of Bray Studios, setting the stage for many more films to come.
After 1965, when Olivier passed away, the house was vacant – except for the film crews who made over 200 films on location. These include the world-famous Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) and the original ‘Half a Sixpence’ (1967). In 1977 the house was granted Grade II heritage listing. The hotel opened in 1981 and has been used to film TV shows such as ‘Law and Order’ and ‘The Comic Strip Presents’. The hotel hosted Queen Elizabeth II in 2009 as she joined us for the annual swan upping. This marked the first time a reigning monarch had personally attended a swan upping and her Majesty, along with local school children enjoyed the festivities from the hotel grounds. We were later the official base of the GB Olympic rowing team, competing at the nearby Dorney Lake for London 2012.
Phew! We’ve been on quite the journey so far. Join us and set your own scene on the luscious grounds of The Oakley Court.