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Places to find priest holes

A priest hole at Baddesley Clinton in Warwickshire. Formerly a medieval sewer, beneath the kitchen, a small, dark, narrow corridor can be seen, lined with stone, with a lit candle in a niche in the wall.
One of three priest holes at Baddesley Clinton, formerly a medieval sewer | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

We look after lots of places from the Tudor period, a time when Catholic priests were often persecuted under the rule of Queen Elizabeth I. Many of these places have priest holes – spaces where priests could remain hidden from search parties, which could have saved their lives.

What are priest holes?

Under the rule of Queen Elizabeth I, priests were often imprisoned, tortured and even killed. Priest holes were specially concealed places within houses where they could hide away safely during this time when catholics were being persecuted.

Discover some of the places in our care where you can find priest holes here.

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.Visit Baddesley Clinton
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.Visit Coughton Court
Moseley Old Hall, Staffordshire
Moseley Old Hall is known as an Elizabethan farmhouse that 'saved a king'. See the bed on which King Charles II slept and the priest hole where he hid from Cromwell’s troops after fleeing the Battle of Worcester in 1651.Visit Moseley Old Hall
The King's Room at Moseley Old Hall, Staffordshire
The King's Room at Moseley Old Hall, Staffordshire | © National Trust Images/James Dobson
Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk
This 15th-century manor house has a secret priest hole. When you visit, you'll discover how Oxburgh Hall suffered during this period of turbulence for Catholics.Visit Oxburgh Hall
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.Visit Scotney Castle
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.Visit Speke Hall
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