A Harborough bar named after a famously eccentric innkeeper has been revamped – but its spooked owners were careful to leave one thing untouched.
For every time the imposing portrait of the hotel’s former owner John Fothergill is moved away from the bar, it seems to herald strange and unexplained events.
James Carpenter, who runs the annual Harborough Ghost Walks, said one owner decided to move the painting into the cellar, which then mysteriously flooded up to the level of the painting.
“Another time one of the owners decided to shift it altogether and it apparently nearly went bankrupt,” Mr Carpenter told the Mail.
“William Naus, who took over the running of the hotel in the 1980s, also removed the painting and lots of strange things happened like the lights going off. It was Naus who decided to turn it into the Fothergill Bar and put lots of memorabilia in there.
“When I first started doing the ghost walks the staff there said it wasn’t unusual for them to feel like someone else was following them.”
On one occasion the portrait was moved to another room and the paint turned from blue to green.
The last time anyone dared move it was during a redecoration in 1998 when the hotel’s computers then crashed and the lights dimmed.
Taking no chances this time, the hotel’s new owners, Kevin and Lilly Charity of the Bulldog hotel group, gave workers strict instructions to decorate around the painting.
The new-look bar opened to the public last Friday.
Sabina Davies, PA to the hotel’s general manager Natasha Walker, told the Mail: “Every time it was moved there were strange occurrences. So this time we told the owners not to move it.
“One day a decorator asked Mr Charity if he could move the painting but he said no – in no uncertain terms was it to be moved. They had to decorate around it.”
Fothergill owned pubs in Thame and Ascot before buying The Three Swans in 1934.
Initially describing it as ‘the foulest little pub possible’, he transformed the hotel into one of the finest in the county.
Fothergill, who wrote three books covering his experiences managing hotels, remained at The Three Swans until his retirement 1952. He died in 1957.
His portrait – which purportedly depicts his gruff demeanour perfectly – has been at the hotel for many years.
Mrs Davies said: “From what I understand Mr Fothergill was a formidable character who didn’t suffer fools gladly and I think the painting captures that.”