Oakley Court is a very posh (and very nice) hotel these days, but it wasn't always the case.... This wonderful neo-Gothic mansion was built in 1859 for Sir Richard Hall Say, in the style of a French Chateau (the story goes that it was to comfort his homesick French wife). It changed hands a number of times during the late 1800's and early 1900's, until in 1919, Ernest Olivier bought it for £27,000. It remained with Olivier for almost half a century. But an interesting twist still awaited Oakley Court as it approached its 100th birthday...
The Curse of Frankenstein starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee (1957)
The Lady Craved Excitement starring Sid James (1959)
The Old Dark House starring Robert Morley, Joyce Grenfell and Fenella Fielding (1966)
The Reptile starring Noel Willman and John Laurie (1966)
The Plague of the Zombies starring Andre Morell (1966)
Half a Sixpence starring Tommy Steele (1967)
Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny and Girly starring Vasnessa Howard (1970)
The House In Nightmare Park starring Ray Milland and Frankie Howard (1973)
Vampyres starring Marianne Morris (1974)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show starring Tim Curry and Richard O'Brien (1975)
Murder by Death starring Peter Sellers, Alec Guinness, David Niven and Peter Faulk (1976)
It was also the setting for the 9 Hammer Dracula films:
Dracula starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing (1958)
The Brides of Dracula starring Christopher Lee (1960)
Dracula: Prince of Darkness starring Christopher Lee (1966)
Dracula Has Risen from the Grave starring Christopher Lee (1968)
Taste the Blood of Dracula starring Christopher Lee (1969)
Scars of Dracula starring Christopher Lee and Dennis Waterman (1970)
Dracula AD 1972 starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing (1972)
The Satanic Rites of Dracula starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing (1973)
The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires starring Peter Cushing (1974)
(screenshot from The Brides of Dracula)
When these Dracula films were made at Oakley Court, the directors used to obtain an extra creepy effect by using only candles to light the entire building.
(screenshot from The House in Nightmare Park)
Despite being a very successful film star, nobody was looking after the upkeep of the building and by the time the time the Rocky Horror Picture Show was being filmed, Oakley Court was derelict. Cast and crew were constantly working around strategically placed buckets catching the rain that was pouring through many holes in the roof (apparently just about everyone involved in the film caught a cold whilst there!). The floors too were rotten and dangerous.In 1979 renovation work commenced at Oakley Court, and in November 1981, it opened its doors as the hotel it is today... back to its former splendour!
I'm quite a fan of the Hammer Horror films... in the late 70's (maybe it was the early 80's) BBC2 used to show a double feature of them every Saturday night.... and it always insured I went to bed feeling very uneasy! However it's the Rocky Horror Picture Show that really does it for me on this one. I used to be crazy about that film in the mid to late 80's. No idea how many times I watched the thing, but it could well be into three figures! For a few years a local cinema used to run it every few weeks as a late night special on a Friday night, and I'd always try to make it. Then when I finally got hold of my own copy on VHS video it was never out of the machine! So discovering that Oakley Court was none other than the lair of Frank-N-Furter was something of a revelation!
(screenshots from the Rocky Horror Picture Show)
All of the exterior shots in the film (including the scene at the front door) are Oakley Court (although there is an odd mish-mash of front and back shots, all pretending to be the front!), but some of the interior ones are too... All the scenes that take place in the hallway are Oakley Court (and the exact same stairs and banister remain to this day). And the scene where they all sit down to dinner (which turns out to be the remains of Eddie!) was filmed in a room off of the hallway. Oh and it could be a coincidence (I like to think of it as a nice touch) but there is now a grandfather clock in the hallway in exactly the same position as the one in the film!
It's well worth a visit, the staff are very friendly, and don't have a problem with you taking a few photos.... so set your Sat Navs to the following if you are ever that way (£15.50 cheaper than Windsor Castle too!):
The Oakley Court
Windsor Road, Water Oakley
Windsor, SL4 5UR