Priest holes

Priest holes were concealed spots created especially for priests, so they could hide away safely during a time when Catholics were persecuted. Under Queen Elizabeth I, priests were often imprisoned, tortured and even killed. Priest holes were specially disguised within a house to baffle search parties. We look after a host of special places from the Tudor period, carefully conserving the buildings and their collections. Can you find these priest holes on your day out?

Visitors looking across the moat to Baddesley Clinton, Warwickshire
Baddesley Clinton was a sanctuary for persecuted Catholics during the 1590s National Trust Images / John Millar

Baddesley Clinton, Warwickshire 

This family home dates back to the late 1500s, and offered sanctuary to Catholic priests fleeing persecution. There are three priest holes to discover as you tour the house.

The sixteenth-century Gate Tower on the West Front at Coughton Court, Warwickshire
There are many Catholic treasures to find at Coughton Court National Trust Images / Robert Morris

Coughton Court, Warwickshire 

Visit Coughton to see a priest hole with a double hide. This means it has two compartments, so that if anyone opened the first section they would still not be able to see the priest hiding in the second.

The house seen over the Knot Garden at Moseley Old Hall, Staffordshire
The priest hole at Moseley Old Hall was used by the King in 1651 National Trust Images / Arnhel de Serra

Moseley Old Hall, Staffordshire 

See the bed on which King Charles II slept and the priest hole in which he hid.

The Priest's Hole, showing the doorway open at Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk
Getting into this hiding place at Oxburgh Hall is quite a squeeze National Trust Images / Mark Fiennes

Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk 

This 15th-century manor house has a secret priest hole that you can crawl inside.

The Dining Room in the new house at Scotney, Kent
This beautiful country house has many secrets and stories National Trust Images / Andreas von Einsiedel

Scotney Castle, Kent 

Can you spot a small compartment, thought to be a priest hole, in the Old Castle? It is said to have helped the Jesuit priest Father Richard Blount, make a dramatic escape.

Children playing outside at Speke Hall, Garden and Estate, Merseyside
Speke Hall has seen almost 500 years of secrets and scandal within its walls National Trust Images / John Millar

Speke Hall, Merseyside 

Built by the Catholic Norris family during turbulent times, Speke Hall has several Tudor security features including priest and spy holes. There's even an eavesdropper, which is a small hole under the eaves of the house, allowing servants to listen in on the conversations of people waiting at the front door.

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