Oakley Court. Berkshire

The Court was built in 1859 in the style of a French Chateau

A number of ghostly hooded figures have been seen walking the grounds of Oakley Court

Remarkably little is known about the property despite the fact that it was built over 120 years ago. Oakley Court is situated along a stretch of the river Thames known as Water Oakley. It was first shown on maps around 1800 and the name appears to originate from Cornish Breton in which it appears as “Warhta Eog Lee” — The Upper Salmon Place.

The Court was originally built in 1859 for Sir Richard Hall Say and legend has it that he built it in the style of a French Chateau to comfort his homesick young French wife.

The court has a very  reputation for being ‘evil’, and a number of accidental drownings both in the building and outside of it have occurred over the past thirty years. One such tragic story involves that of a woman named Penelope Gallerneault.

Mrs Penelope Gallerneault, 26, lived in a flat in the Victorian-Gothic country house of Oakley Court,.The family were warned by friends before they moved in that the place was spooky and had previous history of accidents involving death by drowning. In the three years they were there, she and her husband and children suffered many tragedies.

The horror began in the summer of 1972. ‘I started to see people walking in the grounds wearing hoods,’ she says.  In December her two-year-old son, William, died. Mrs Gallerneault was running him a bath when the phone went.

When she returned he was floating in the water. ‘I realize that many people might try to blame me for being careless, but that is just not the case.’ A second tragedy struck the family when her second son Edward, who was just two, was left in his playpen in the grounds. Somehow he got out, toddled down to the river, fell in and drowned.

Mrs Gallerneault said, ‘The house has an aura of evil and I could never go back there.  The Rev. Sebastian Jones, curate of St Michael’s Church, Bray, added: ‘Oakley Court is definitely “spooky” and I would not want to stay there myself. Evil can generate evil, and the grounds would be an ideal place to practise black magic’ The police, called in at every stage, are mystified too.

A senior policeman said: ‘There have been some strange happenings at the house, which have never been explained. We made regular patrols after complaints about witches, and things seem to have quietened down now.

In the 1950s, the place was left derelict for many years. The atmosphere around the building apparently became so oppressive that it caused a number of people to commit suicide in the Thames.

Loves a good ghost story, especially whilst sat in front of an open log fire on a cold and dark winters night.

12 Comments on "Oakley Court. Berkshire"

  1. Rebekah says:

    I recall reading about this years ago. So sorry for you penny and family x

  2. Jan spicer says:

    I am the Aunt for Robert, Blair, William and Edward and also Penny’s younger sister.
    I lived at Oakley court at the same time as my sister and her family but in a different property. Your report of William and Edwards death is inaccurate even to the point that
    Penny and Robin had split up 18 months before the little ones died. Penny had a boy friend living with her at the time of their death, Peter Lucas.

    Robert and Blair took Peters name Lucas, after the children died and Penny married him. Previously their surname was Gallernault. Penny was afraid to stay there because her two sons had died there and Peter was staying somewhere else, she lived there for some time after the boys died. Robert and Blair where understandably badly effected and kept asking which one of them was going to die next, this was the best reason for leaving. They were very frightened dear little boys then and had an unimaginable tough time after that for several years. Thankfully they are great men now and have their own families and are happy and well adjusted good men who care deeply about their children. They are successful and well thought of and much loved.

    I saw only one ghost in the time I lived there it was a man standing in the drive on what was once the weigh bridge of the estate. I told the elderly gentleman John who had lived there since he was 13 what I had seen and described the person who blocked my path, literally. He recognised him as the once estate manager who was a hard cruel man. I can still describe this ghost he was approx 6′ 4″ tall wearing a wide brimmed hat a black long coat, belted with a cape top to the coat and long boots. He had a draw face with a long very thin crooked nose and eyes like steel.

    I was rushing down the drive on my way home and was worried because I was late. by the time I realised this person was in front of me it was too late and I walked through him. I will always remember the cold shudder I experienced which lasted a long time. When I got home to my parents house in Bray I was still freezing cold even though it was a hot balmy summer evening and I had run all the way after my experience. Before this experience I was never afraid to walk around the grounds after dark. It was a creepy place but I would not say it was evil. Remember, only the living can hurt you!

    • Jake Roche says:

      Hi Jan

      Thank you for this fascinating insight.

      If you know anymore about the buildings past or its ownership then please do email me on jrochefilms@gmail.com as i would love to discuss further. I am also looking for any original photographs of the Court as part of my research so if you or anyone you know have any please do let me know

      Thank you again


    • Lorraine Lucas says:

      I’ve found this link because I was looking to find out if Oakley Court is still operating as a hotel…it is a very imposing place, and atmospheric but I agree with Jan Spicer..I don’t think a place can be evil, but maybe it can absorb and retain sad and tragic vibes. I was married to Robert for many years, and obviously he was affected by the awful events that surrounded his time living at Oakley Court, even though he was only small, and I know he adored his Mum, Penny, and suffered over what she’d gone through. We went to stay at the hotel probably about twelve years ago or more. Robert chose to go back there possibly to try to make some sense of things and perhaps to find some peace of mind. It was a sad visit in many ways of course, and I can’t speak for Robert, but I don’t think we felt ill at ease apart from the obvious emotions attached to such a visit. I don’t think there are good places or bad places, just degrees of misfortune that are horribly random.

    • Robert Bard says:

      Hi, I’m writing a book, ‘Paranormal Berkshire’ and visited Oakley Court yesterday to take some photographs. You mention a pond,but I couldn’t find it. Is it where the water fountain is between the river and the house?

  3. Robert lucas says:

    Hi Tabitha I am Robert I did indeed see a lady in white who used to chase me from room to room but have always thought I was dreaming . What were my mums thoughts and why was she scared any further info would be very welcome

    • Tabitha Cowan says:

      Hi Robert,
      last time I saw you I think you were about 5 years old and wanted to be a policeman! As far as I can remember, Penny felt that there was an evil presence in Oakley Court. She also saw a woman in a white dress, and shadowy figures down by the pond, and I believe Blair, who when he was very small, talked to the ‘lady’.

      I wasn’t that old myself when William and Edward died; still at school, but obviously Robin and Penny were both devastated, and spoke about the evil in the house. I think they may have moved away or spilt up shortly after that? I only went there a couple of times, but didn’t like the oppressive atmosphere of the house.
      I hope that helps, if I think of anything else I’ll post another comment on here for you.

      • Jake Roche says:


        I am fascinated by these stories, particularly the accounts in the comments of people living at the house during this time. I work for the hotel and am involved in compiling the history of the building currently. I would love to have any information about these events and the ownership of the house at the time so if anyone reading this can help do please let me know and i will be in touch,



  4. Blair Lucas says:

    Penelope gallerneault was my mother I was only 5/6 years old at this time but can obviously remember the tragedy of my brothers drowning.I would be interested to learn more ??

    • Tabitha Cowan says:

      Hi Blair,

      I knew your Mum and Dad, Robin when William and Edward drowned at Oakley Court. Have you looked at back issues of the Maidenhead Advertiser, it was fully reported at the time. I rememeber both Penny and Robin saying that the place had a very bad feeling to it, and I believe both of them saw and heard strange figures in the grounds at night. I have a feeling that your brother Robert, (and possibly you) said that a ‘lady’ came to visit them at night- which obviously frightened your Mum very much.

      hope this helps,

  5. kerry richard says:

    My father was a involved with the restoration Oakley Court during the 1970’s, my sister and I also worked there briefly as a hotel. During these years a skeptic like me is convinced this place is haunted..

    At this time in the 70’s I knew of the drownings, and had spent time working along with my father during holidays, it really was spooky, the architecture, the tower, and gargoyles..

    My father came home on a few occasions with terror on his face, with honest accounts of scary goings on, during the days and dark nights, glasses smashing, double doors opening, in front of him, people walking around (it was an empty building site) , and other oddities like continuous electrical faults, kettles boiling, and all sorts of miss measurements, things not fitting after being re-measured countless times, etc etc. …bad workmanship?

    The night watchmen (who subsequently fell through the roof) heard many times people marching on the roof?, and figures walking around the grounds.
    Whilst on reception at the hotel, my sister and a colleague heard the billiard balls ‘break shot, only to go into the room to find the balls stationary, and in formation on their spots.

    It has a wonderful history, and is a beautiful building to look at, but it gives me the creeps!!!.

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