Strongholds of Catholic families

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, those who refused to attend Anglican church services were known as recusants. Most were Roman Catholics. During this time, harbouring a priest could incur the death penalty and merely being a priest constituted high treason. Here we explore houses that were Catholic family strongholds in England.

View of Baddesley from the moat on a sunny day

Baddesley Clinton, Warwickshire 

Baddesley Clinton was home to the Ferrers family for 500 years. The moated manor house was not only a sanctuary for the family, but also for persecuted Catholics who were hidden from priest hunters in its secret hiding places during the 1590s.

Coughton Court

Coughton Court, Warwickshire 

Coughton Court is an imposing Tudor house, which is still home to the Throckmorton family. The family was impoverished, persecuted and imprisoned for their adherence to the Catholic faith and Parliamentarians plundered, partly burnt and confiscated the property during the Civil War.

Moseley Old Hall

Moseley Old Hall, Staffordshire  

Famous as one of the hiding places of King Charles II during his escape to France, following defeat at the Battle of Worcester, upstairs you can also still discover a Catholic Chapel hidden in the eaves, where the family could worship in safety.

May dawn mist morning

Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk 

Home to the Bedingfeld family for more than 500 years, Oxburgh Hall has survived a turbulent history. Through persecution, Civil War devastation, near dereliction and threatened demolition, the Bedingfeld family’s unshakable Catholic faith has prevailed.

Scotney Old Castle reflected in the moat during summer

Scotney Castle, Kent 

The recusant owner, Thomas Darrell, hid Jesuit Father Richard Blount in the castle while he ministered to Roman Catholics from 1591 to 1598. Catholicism was then illegal in England, and during the second raid by authorities to arrest the priest, he fled over a wall into the moat and escaped.

View of the Sizergh Castle in Cumbria

Sizergh Castle, Cumbria 

This imposing house stands proud at the gateway to the Lake District. Still lived in by the Strickland family, despite their faith they were able to retain their estates, but had to pay substantial fines. Like many other Catholic families, they supported the Royalist cause during the Civil War.

Speke Hall in Merseyside

Speke Hall, Merseyside 

Built by the devout Catholic Norris family keen to impress visitors with the grandeur of their home, this beautiful building has witnessed more than 400 years of turbulent history. Speke Hall has several Tudor security features including priest and spy holes, essential features during that period for any Catholic family.