With the River Stour weaving its way through the estate, Ettington Park is a spectacular neo-Gothic mansion situated six miles from Stratford-upon-Avon in the picturesque Stour Valley.
The Shirleys, one of Warwickshire’s oldest families, owned Ettington for many years. Their lineage can be traced back over a thousand years. There is also archaeological evidence that there has been human habitation in the area for at least 2,000 years. It is very much possible that a Roman villa once existed on the site of the Ettington Park Hotel, which since that time has undergone many transitions.
When the old manor house was demolished, it was replaced with a newer and smaller house which was rebuilt from salvaged materials. In 1935, the mansion became a nursing home and was used as a camp for prisoners of war during World War II; for a brief period it was also a club. A fire in 1979 did a lot of damage to the building and it was locked up for three years and deteriorated badly.
In 1983, the house, along with the land, was leased to the Isis Hotel Company and a restoration programme worth millions of pounds was undertaken to return the mansion to its old glory. Ettington Park then officially opened as a luxury hotel. It is now managed and operated by Hand Picked Hotels Ltd. The former owners, the Shirley family, still regularly visit their former abode and they continue to maintain ownership of the land in the surrounding areas.
Ettington Park Hotel has long had a reputation for being one of the most haunted hotels in the UK – it was even named as such by the AA. Guests of the hotel, as well as various members of staff have reported seeing spectres and hearing various disembodied voices. There is the old woman in Victorian clothing who has been seen and heard walking along the conservatory entrance, and several people have witnessed the ghost of a man and his beloved dog wandering in the library and vanishing quickly. It is reported that on Christmas Eve, the staff witnessed a candle lift off the mantelpiece and float by itself.
However, the hotel’s most popular ghost is that of a woman who is dressed in a white gown. She glides along the corridors of the hotel at night and then disappears into the walls. She can also be seen at the veranda, always around dusk. The staff believe she is a former governess and is known by the name “Lady Emma”.
There is also the grey lady who floats and stops at the foot of the stairs where she is believed to have fallen and died many years ago. Finally there are sightings of a monk both inside and outside the hotel, an army officer and two young Shirley boys who drowned in the 1800s in the Stour River.