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An Unexpected Night At A Haunted Inn In Northamptonshire


This is the tale as relayed to me by my father. He swears it's entirely true, and has talked about it much over the years. My grandfather has backed up the elements of the story known to him.

As a young man in 1982 (before he met my mother), my father read law at Liverpool University, England. Whilst there, he began a somewhat fiery and ultimately doomed relationship with a fellow student, who hailed from London. At the end of Christmas term, in a last ditch attempt to salvage their rapidly deteriorating relationship, they decided that rather than going their separate ways immediately, the young lady would instead drive them back to London so they could spend a few days with her parents before he headed back to his own family pile in Norfolk in time for Christmas Day.

To cut a long story short, they didn't even get as far as London before it became clear that nothing was going to fix the unfixable, and that with the distractions of the University behind them, they had even less in common than they had hoped. The relationship officially ended at the Watford Gap service station on the M1 motorway in Northamptonshire, where - by mutual consent - my father alighted from his now-ex-girlfriend's Austin Allegro, and she drove off without so much as a glance in the rear view mirror.

By now it was tea time, and my father was at least one hundred miles from home. He phoned his father and explained the situation, and his father said that yes he could come and get him, but not until the following day because he had been drinking wine all afternoon with friends at the golf club (and mother didn't drive)! As you can imagine, my father was not now in the best of moods, having been dumped by his girlfriend, and temporarily abandoned by his father. Rather than spending the night at the service station, my father - being a man of some means, even as a student - determined that he would see if there were more amenable lodgings elsewhere. So he set off across some fields behind the service station, and headed for the lights of the nearest village, which turned out to be a little settlement called 'Watford'.

Here he came across an old Georgian-era Inn called the Henley Arms, where he was able to order some dinner, a couple of beers and a bed for the night. Retiring to his room, my father soon dropped off to sleep. In the middle of the night, however, he was awoken by the sound of giggling coming from somewhere in his room. He immediately turned the light on, but no one was there. Puzzled, he went to check the time before trying to get back to sleep, but found that his watch was no longer on his bedside table. It was a really expensive Omega that his father had given him for passing his A-Levels, and so he immediately panicked and began to search the room to find it. It was nowhere to be found: the bedroom door was locked from the inside with the key still in the lock - so it was clear no one could have sneaked in and stolen the watch. My father was now so angry and confused that he struggled to get back to sleep. Eventually he did fall asleep however, and when he awoke he found his watch on the bedside table exactly where he had originally placed it! The watch had stopped at around three a.m, which again was strange as he always wound it before bed.

At breakfast, my father raised the curious incident with the landlord, who expressed no surprise whatsoever. The landlord told him matter-of-factly that it must have been 'Patches'. According to the landlord, similar goings on had occurred there for hundreds of years, prompting numerous investigations - including a famous one by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The landlord said that Patches was most likely the spirit of a young woman, and whilst she was somewhat mischievous, she never did anyone any harm.

Some hours later my father was reunited with his own father (my grandfather), and returned home safely to Norfolk. Later that same Christmas holiday, at a carol service, he met my mother. My father has never returned to the Inn.

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Comments about this paranormal experience

The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, Poppinjay30, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

Louisstressed (1 posts)
4 years ago (2021-01-03)
Hi thanks for the story it's brilliant. I have found out that the Henley is now a house and is on the market for around 500, 000 very beautiful
caprini (1 posts)
5 years ago (2019-06-28)
I have read of another incident that happened in the 70s at the Henley arms Watford. The ODD thing is that both stories by two different people on two different websites (paranormal website) and two different eras were submitted on the same date on each website...spookey...or fake.
JRGurganus1998 (2 stories) (11 posts)
5 years ago (2019-04-24)
That's interesting for sure. I haven't stayed in any haunted places, but I lived in Savannah, GA from 99-07, that place is reported to have many haunted locations, such as hotels and restaurants. That's in the States though, I ain't never been to the UK.
Cuddlebear (4 stories) (173 posts)
5 years ago (2019-04-23)
Popinjay ~ a very interesting tale.

I've spent several nights in reputedly haunted B&B's here in the states and have nothing to share concerning them.

Have you visited the Inn? Is it still open for business?
Unexplained (2 stories) (122 posts)
5 years ago (2019-04-21)
If I've got the location correct, there's a bit of a history just here:


It might be the little girl who was drowned with her mother. Her body was taken to the Henley Arms and examined by the coroner.
RSAChick (115 posts)
5 years ago (2019-04-17)
Hi Poppinjay30, I enjoyed reading your story.

I came across an interesting website on Watford which even has a section on the Ghosts of Watford! I was disappointed not to find anything about Patches or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's investigation in there.
The Henley Arms is mentioned, but in connection with an inquest held there after a mother and child drowned in the nearby Grand Union Canal in 1899.
The website makes for some interesting reading:

Nevertheless, thanks for sharing your story. It's one of those that you'll be telling for many years to come at family get-togethers, I'm sure!

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