Saturday, 25 June 2011

Harvington Hall

Yesterday, Anna and I went to visit Harvington Hall in Worcestershire, near Kidderminster (and fairly near Birmingham).

A fascinating Elizabethan moated manor house, it is particularly important to Catholics as a testament to our fore-fathers' commitment to their Faith.

The Pakington family, who lived there, clung to their Faith at a time when it was considered treasonous to do so. Not only that, they set the house up as a Mass centre and safe-house for Catholic Priests. Any priest found would have been executed, and anyone found hiding a priest would also have been executed.

Therefore, the Pakingtons had several priest hiding holes built ingeniously into the structure of the building, and it is these which are of course the highlight of any visit. Some are up chimneys, some under floorboards, one under a staircase (two of the stairs lift away) and the most ingenious was behind a bookcase, and then behind a pivoted beam (which could be bolted from the inside when the hole was occupied).

The house now belongs to the Archdiocese of Birmingham, and a couple of Archbishops, recognising its importance, have invested in restoring it.

It is well worth making a considerable journey to see.

We were particularly delighted to meet there, quite by chance (or Grace, I suppose in Catholic theology) our old friends Jack and Nuala Scarisbrick, the founders and mainstays of Life.


Patricius said...

I was very young when I first visited Harvington Hall and have returned occasionally. I don't think it can be beaten for the number and quality of its priest hiding holes- the pivoted beam hide is surely deserving of an award! It is also surprising how many recusant houses with hides there were along the southern margins of Birmingham, Baddesley Clinton and Coughton Court(both in Warwickshire) survive and are in the care of the National Trust. Sadly Hindlip House just north of Worcester where Fr Garnet and Blessed Edward Oldcorne were arrested- after having survived a week undiscovered- burned down early in the nineteenth century. I certainly agree. Harvington Hall is well worth a journey!

Ben Trovato said...


I first visited at the age of 12; this was only my second visit, some 38 years later... They've done a lot of work in it in the interim (under Archbishop Couve de Murville, I understand).

We went to Coughton Court last year (also worth a visit) and will go to Baddesley Clinton next time we're in those parts...