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 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. In 1880 Oakley Court was sold to Lord Otto Fitzgerald, then to a John Lewis Phipps and in 1908 to Sir William Avery of Avery Scales. In 1919, Mr Ernest Olivier purchased the property together with 50 acres of Berkshire woodland for the sum of £27,000. He was a very eccentric character who frequently entertained foreign diplomats and as a courteous gesture flew the flag of the nation they represented on the original flag pole which still stands today. It is believed that the Court was used during the last war as the English Headquarters for the French resistance and President De Gaulle is reputed to have stayed in one of the Mansion bedrooms.
In 1955, Bray Studios moved to Down Place, just next door to Oakley Court. After Mr Olivier's death in 1965 the Court lay uninhabited. For the next 14 years it became an ideal setting for many of the films made by Southern Pictures. During this period, some 200 films were made in and around the property, most notable were the St. Trinian's series, The Rocky Horror Show, Half a Sixpence starring Tommy Steele, Murder by Death starring Peter Sellers and perhaps most famous of all were the Hammer House Productions, notably Dracula. When the Dracula films were made at Oakley Court, directors obtained an eerie effect by using only candles to light the entire Court.
In 1979 conversion began at Oakley Court. Wherever possible, the furniture and plaster was restored and this is particularly noticeable in the Mansion itself. Our billiard table is 300 years old and the plastering in the Drawing Room is all original. Two extensions have been built onto the Mansion, the Riverside and Garden Wings. Today these house most of our bedrooms, although there are 6 carefully restored suites in the main Mansion.
On 7th November 1981, after 2 years of renovation and the sum of £5 million spent on the property, Oakley Court opened its doors as an hotel. Now, with its former splendour and beautiful setting of 30 acres of landscaped gardens on the banks of the Thames, Oakley Court ranks as one of the outstanding hotels of this country.
From notes prepared by the © Oakley Court Hotel, Windsor.
Oakley Court is now the Oakley Court Hotel.
|Text: © Oakley Court Hotel 2001. All Rights Reserved.|