This historic hotel has a characterful and intriguing past
Behind the frontage of The Talbot Hotel in Oundle are significant remaining elements of a timber-framed building, which is known to have been part of an inn during the 1500s under the name of The Tabret or Tabard. The inn was part of the extensive holdings in the town of a wealthy, religious, charitable organisation called the Guild of Our Lady of Oundle.
The present façade and main structure date from a major rebuilding in 1626, which probably coincided with the change of name to The Talbot. It is speculated that the new name might have symbolised a Protestant rejection of things associated with the ‘old religion’ of the Catholic Church.
So exceptional are the architectural and historic features of The Talbot that it is classified as a Grade I historic building, placing it among the top three per cent of all listed buildings in England. The pre-eminent feature is a huge window at the rear. It is thought to have come from the nearby medieval royal palace of Fotheringhay, which was demolished sometime after 1625.
The window sheds light onto an oak staircase, which is also said to have come from Fotheringhay and to have been the staircase down which Mary Queen of Scots was escorted to her execution in the palace’s great hall in 1587. Notwithstanding that experts suggest the staircase was almost certainly constructed in the 1600s, the tradition has been maintained, promoted, and enhanced by reports of the queen’s ghostly presence on the stair.
In the late 1700s The Talbot became an important coaching inn, providing rest and refreshments on a route to London. At around this time the inn came into the ownership of the Oundle brewery of John Smith, whose firm retained it until 1962. The Talbot was acquired by the Coaching Inn Group in 2009, and in 2012 it underwent a £1.3 million refurbishment that further preserved and highlighted its historic features while also adapting it to the needs of the current market.