Secret doors

The secret door in the library at Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk
Open up the secret door in the library at Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk National Trust Images/Mark Fiennes

Some of the doors in the places we look after are very interesting indeed. They might lead to private rooms, hidden gardens and even other worlds.

Here’s our pick of the most mysterious doors in the places we care for:

  • The mansion at Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire, is riddled with false and hidden doors. Many doors are painted or wallpapered so that they blend in, making them very tricky to spot. In the Georgian period such devices were a popular way of maintaining the ‘balance’ of interiors. Can you spot them all?
  • Generations of children have enjoyed hunting for Fred, the friendly ghost at Overbeck’s House, in Devon. This hunt will take them through a little secret door in the panelling of the stairs, into a room that’s stuffed full of children’s toys from the past – including lead soldiers and dolls’ houses. When the kids find the secret door, and the ghost within, the room guide will reward them with a sticker and certificate.
  • Hidden in a tree in the gardens of Hardwick Hall, in Derbyshire, is the door to a fairy house. Children can open it up and look inside to see what the fairies are doing.
  • There are seven concealed doors at Oxburgh Hall, in Norfolk. Can you find the one in the library? This door is hidden within a wall of bookcases and is decorated with real book spines, with tongue-in-cheek titles that refer to events and people from Oxburgh's history.
  • At Cotehele, in Cornwall, children can find a secret ‘door’ in the form of a table. They must crawl under the table to enter the Red Room Closet - which only those under 18 are allowed to explore. We find that children love the fact that they are allowed to go somewhere that their parents aren’t!
  • At Montacute House, in Somerset, Lord Curzon built an en-suite inside a cupboard. Can you spot the right door?