The Berystede

The Berystede, Bagshot Road, Sunninghill, Ascot, Berkshire,
SL5 9JH 

Close to the world famous Ascot racecourse, The Berystede stands with nine acres of wooded grounds. The turreted and timber framed house was once an elegant Victorian residence and the hotel has been decorated in keeping with that period, with large fires, deep seats and period oil paintings hanging in elegant frames on the walls. The house was built in the 1870s by a local family called Standish. Henry Standish married a French noblewoman and the family had estates in England and France and were friends of the British Royal Family. The house was built to entertain these friends in a Victorian mix of Gothic and Tudor styles with picturesque turrets. They were a well to do family with large numbers of staff; their crest was an owl with a rat in its talons and it was emblazoned on their coaches as they travelled the highways to visit their well born friends. 

However, disaster struck on 27 October 1886 when the house caught fire. By the morning only the walls were left standing, everything else had gone up in flames.Mrs Standish’s maid, Eliza Kleininger, was burned to death. Eliza was about fifty years old and French like her mistress. Over the years she had been given many gifts of jewellery which she kept in a box in her room. She was very attached to these baubles; so much so that, though she escaped from the flames, she went back in to rescue her valuables. That was the last thing she did; her full Victorian skirts caught light and she went up like a torch. The following day her charred bones were found at the foot of the servants stairs, surrounded by the jewels she had tried to save. The ruins stood there until just after the turn of the century when the land was developed and the walls rebuilt into a fashionable hotel. In fitting with its noble surroundings – neither Royal Ascot and Windsor Castle are too far away – it was a rather splendid hotel, but from the very first it was haunted by the ghost of Eliza, still searching for her jewels. 

When I spoke to staff at the hotel they told me that rooms 306, 361, 362 were the ones effected by a strange atmosphere. They said that cleaners didn’t like to go to the rooms, and would always try to work there with someone else. Apparently there is an area just outside the linen cupboard on that floor that always seems unnaturally cold. One of the staff there also had an odd, she said ghostly experience in the attic, though she refused to give any details! Outside the hotel, there have been sightings of a ghostly highwayman along the closely wooded lanes

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