Check Out These Oxford Haunts – If You’re Brave Enough!
Some of us like to visit new locations, discover new historical sites and memorable places to tick off the bucket list. There is no shortage of heritage sites, from medieval castles, famous bridges, memorials and our world famous university to see while you walk around Oxford.
Of course, some people are thrill seekers and they love a spooky story or a good scare to get the blood pumping. If this is the case, Oxford is for you! The good news is we has a very fine selection of our own ‘haunts’ for you to enjoy, brace yourselves!
Oxford Castle & The Grisly End Of Mary Blandy (1720-1752)
The medieval period was a particularly brutal time, a time of countless executions and ghost stories aplenty. Tales such as the tale of Mary Blandy. Her story is sure to send more than just a few chills down the spine.
Life was short and not so sweet for Mary Blandy who was executed at 31 by hanging. The daughter of a wealthy lawyer, Mary Blandy came from a middle class family who lived on Hart Street. Mary’s father, Francis set her marriage dowry at a staggering £10,000.
Scottish noble and army captain, William Henry Cranstoun from Edinburgh successfully managed to court Ms Blandy, at least at first, however a major revelation put an end to the marriage proceedings – Mr Cranstoun was in fact, already married!
Mary’s father became aware of his son in law’s duplicity and would become increasingly unhappy with the situation. Cranstoun attempted to placate Francis Blandy, rather perculiarly, with a ‘love potion.’ Cranstoun tricked Mary into giving this ‘love potion’ to her father but the supposed ‘love potion’ actually turned out to be arsenic and swiftly led to the death of Mary’s father.
As word got out that Francis had died, and after a fair amount of finger pointing, Mary was eventually arrested on suspicion of murder, by which point Cranstoun was long gone having fled, leaving Mary to face an inquest into the murder of her father.
She was found guilty of administering the powder and committed to the county jail whereby her legs were shackled in irons as she awaited her trial at the famous Divinity School. Despite what we might today call any concrete evidence Mary was found guilty of murder and sentenced to imprisonment awaiting the death sentence.
She didn’t have to wait long as on Monday the 6th April, 1752 in front of a small crowd, Mary was hung by her neck atop the Oxford mound. It was noted that she screamed her innocence and requested that she not be hung too high to preserve her chastity.
It is now said that the ghost of Mary Blandy walks around the castle mound at night with more than a handful of supposed sightings recorded. If you see her, don’t be too alarmed!
The Haunted Streets Of Banbury Road
You’ve heard of haunted houses but you may not have heard of the very British phenomenon of ‘haunted roads!’ From the 16th to 17th century in Britain, travelling robbers or ‘highwaymen’ would terrorise the wealthy on roads up and down the country.
While you will have heard the name Dick Turpin, you may not have heard of Oxford’s own highwayman, a certain ‘Napier.’ Little is known about this local legend except for stories carried down the generations in Oxford.
It is said that this robber committed particularly heinous crimes and as a result suffered a particularly savage execution. The story goes that Napier was torn apart by his limbs and cut into pieces. His cut up and dismembered body was scattered across the Oxford city limits but it is said that his ghost came back, and assembled all his bodily parts save his head! So don’t worry too much if you see a headless ghost on your visit to Oxford, it’s just our Napier!
The Spirits Of The Old Bank Hotel
As the name ‘old bank’ suggests, this hotel was indeed a former financial institution.Even back when it was being used as a bank the rumours that it was haunted began to circulate. Workers at the bank frequently complained of mysterious voices, disappearing objects and lights going on and off by themselves.
Some even claimed to see a ghostly figure that would appear, always wearing a distinctive brown dress, the ghost was believed to be the ghost of Prudence Burcote.
Prudence was the daughter of a wealthy family of puritan Christians who lived in the hotel back when it was a place of residence during the civil war. Prudence belonged to a family who would have staunchly supported parliament, Oliver Cromwell and the Roundheads, who were at that time engaged in a fierce battle with King Charles I’s Cavaliers.
Prudence did the unthinkable and started a relationship with a Cavalier which led to her being banished from her home. Most unfortunately for Prudence, her soldier husband had to leave home and fight for the King forcing Prudence to return home hoping to seek forgiveness from her father.
The history books would tell us that her father did not have it in him to forgive her. She was again kicked out and forced to live on her own without her beloved. In the end Prudence took her own life and is since believed to be haunting the hotel where she searches in vain for her fallen soldier lover. Spare a thought for Prudence if you happen to see her on your trip to Oxford.
Other Popular ‘Haunts’
Avid ghost hunters will enjoy passing through sites like St John’s College where they might catch a glimpse of a headless Archbishop William Laud or the ghost of University College master, Obadiah Walker, a man who died due to his attempts to follow King James II on his ‘flight’ to France. Also try to fit in a pint at the Trout Inn, you might be able to spot Rosamund the Fair, an alleged ‘concubine’ of King Henry II, murdered by his jealous wife.
So if you enjoy a bit of ghost spotting, Oxford has more than enough to offer you, the above is just the tip of the iceberg!