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.