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Title: Secret Chambers and Hiding Places - Historic, Romantic, & Legendary Stories & Traditions About - Hiding-Holes, Secret Chambers, Etc.
Author: Fea, Allan, 1860-1956
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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      "         "     "
      "      "      "
   "      "    "         "
   "      "    SHROPSHIRE
     "        "         "


The secret chamber is unrivalled even by the haunted house for
the mystery and romance surrounding it. Volumes have been written
about the haunted house, while the secret chamber has found but
few exponents. The ancestral ghost has had his day, and to all
intents and purposes is dead, notwithstanding the existence of
the Psychical Society and the investigations of Mr. Stead and
the late Lord Bute. "Alas! poor ghost!" he is treated with scorn
and derision by the multitude in these advanced days of modern
enlightenment. The search-light of science has penetrated even
into his sacred haunts, until, no longer having a leg to stand
upon, he has fallen from the exalted position he occupied for
centuries, and fallen moreover into ridicule!

In the secret chamber, however, we have something tangible to deal
with--a subject not only keenly interesting from an antiquarian
point of view, but one deserving the attention of the general
reader; for in exploring the gloomy hiding-holes, concealed
apartments, passages, and staircases in our old halls and manor
houses we probe, as it were, into the very groundwork of romance.
We find actuality to support the weird and mysterious stories
of fiction, which those of us who are honest enough to admit
a lingering love of the marvellous must now doubly appreciate,
from the fact that our school-day impressions of such things
are not only revived, but are strengthened with the semblance
of truth. Truly Bishop Copleston wrote: "If the things we hear
told be avowedly fictitious, and yet curious or affecting or
entertaining, we may indeed admire the author of the fiction, and
may take pleasure in contemplating the exercise of his skill. But
this is a pleasure of another kind--a pleasure wholly distinct from
that which is derived from discovering what was _unknown_, or
clearing up what was _doubtful_. And even when the narrative
is in its own nature, such as to please us and to engage our
attention, how, greatly is the interest increased if we place
entire confidence in its _truth_! Who has not heard from
a child when listening to a tale of deep interest--who has not
often heard the artless and eager question, 'Is it true?'"

From Horace Walpole, Mrs. Radcliffe, Scott, Victor Hugo, Dumas,
Lytton, Ainsworth, Le Fanu, and Mrs. Henry Wood, down to the
latest up-to-date novelists of to-day, the secret chamber (an
ingenious _necessity_ of the "good old times") has afforded
invaluable "property"--indeed, in many instances the whole vitality
of a plot is, like its ingenious opening, hinged upon the masked
wall, behind which lay concealed what hidden mysteries, what
undreamed-of revelations! The thread of the story, like Fair
Rosamond's silken clue, leads up to and at length reveals the
buried secret, and (unlike the above comparison in this instance)
all ends happily!

Bulwer Lytton honestly confesses that the spirit of romance in his
novels "was greatly due to their having been written at my ancestral
home, Knebworth, Herts. How could I help writing romances," he
says, "after living amongst the secret panels and hiding-places
of our dear old home? How often have I trembled with fear at
the sound of my own footsteps when I ventured into the picture
gallery! How fearfully have I glanced at the faces of my ancestors
as I peered into the shadowy abysses of the 'secret chamber.' It
was years before I could venture inside without my hair literally
bristling with terror."

What would _Woodstock_ be without the mysterious picture,
_Peveril of the Peak_ without the sliding panel, the Castlewood
of _Esmond_ without Father Holt's concealed apartments,
_Ninety-Three, Marguerite de Valois, The Tower of London, Guy
Fawkes_, and countless other novels of the same type, without
the convenient contrivances of which the _dramatis personæ_
make such effectual use?

Apart, however, from the importance of the secret chamber in
fiction, it is closely associated with many an important historical
event. The stories of the Gunpowder Plot, Charles II.'s escape
from Worcester, the Jacobite risings of 1715 and 1745, and many
another stirring episode in the annals of our country, speak
of the service it rendered to fugitives in the last extremity
of danger. When we inspect the actual walls of these confined
spaces that saved the lives of our ancestors, how vividly we can
realise the hardships they must have endured; and in wondering
at the mingled ingenuity and simplicity of construction, there
is also a certain amount of comfort to be derived from drawing
a comparison between those troublous and our own more peaceful




During the deadly feuds which existed in the Middle Ages, when
no man was secure from spies and traitors even within the walls
of his own house, it is no matter of wonder that the castles and
mansions of the powerful and wealthy were usually provided with
some precaution in the event of a sudden surprise--_viz._
a secret means of concealment or escape that could be used at
a moment's notice; but the majority of secret chambers and
hiding-places in our ancient buildings owe their origin to religious
persecution, particularly during the reign of Elizabeth, when the
most stringent laws and oppressive burdens were inflicted upon
all persons who professed the tenets of the Church of Rome.

In the first years of the virgin Queen's reign all who clung to
the older forms of the Catholic faith were mercifully connived
at, so long as they solemnised their own religious rites within
their private dwelling-houses; but after the Roman Catholic rising
in the north and numerous other Popish plots, the utmost severity
of the law was enforced, particularly against seminarists, whose
chief object was, as was generally believed, to stir up their
disciples in England against the Protestant Queen. An Act was
passed prohibiting a member of the Church of Rome from celebrating
the rites of his religion on pain of forfeiture for the first
offence, a year's imprisonment for the second, and imprisonment
for life for the third.[1] All those who refused to take the
Oath of Supremacy were called "recusants" and were guilty of
high treason. A law was also enacted which provided that if any
Papist should convert a Protestant to the Church of Rome, both
should suffer death, as for high treason.

[Footnote 1: In December, 1591, a priest was hanged before the
door of a house in Gray's Inn Fields for having there said Mass
the month previously.]

The sanguinary laws against seminary priests and "recusants"
were enforced with the greatest severity after the discovery of
the Gunpowder Plot. These were revived for a period in Charles
II.'s reign, when Oates's plot worked up a fanatical hatred against
all professors of the ancient faith. In the mansions of the old
Roman Catholic families we often find an apartment in a secluded
part of the house or garret in the roof named "the chapel," where
religious rites could be performed with the utmost privacy, and
close handy was usually an artfully contrived hiding-place, not
only for the officiating priest to slip into in case of emergency,
but also where the vestments, sacred vessels, and altar furniture
could be put away at a moment's notice.

It appears from the writings of Father Tanner[1] that most of
the hiding-places for priests, usually called "priests' holes,"
were invented and constructed by the Jesuit Nicholas Owen, a
servant of Father Garnet, who devoted the greater part of his
life to constructing these places in the principal Roman Catholic
houses all over England.

[Footnote 1: _Vita et Mors_ (1675), p. 75.]

"With incomparable skill," says an authority, "he knew how to
conduct priests to a place of safety along subterranean passages,
to hide them between walls and bury them in impenetrable recesses,
and to entangle them in labyrinths and a thousand windings. But
what was much more difficult of accomplishment, he so disguised
the entrances to these as to make them most unlike what they
really were. Moreover, he kept these places so close a secret
with himself that he would never disclose to another the place
of concealment of any Catholic. He alone was both their architect
and their builder, working at them with inexhaustible industry
and labour, for generally the thickest walls had to be broken
into and large stones excavated, requiring stronger arms than
were attached to a body so diminutive as to give him the nickname
of 'Little John,' and by this his skill many priests were preserved
from the prey of persecutors. Nor is it easy to find anyone who
had not often been indebted for his life to Owen's hiding-places."

How effectually "Little John's" peculiar ingenuity baffled the
exhaustive searches of the "pursuivants," or priest-hunters,
has been shown by contemporary accounts of the searches that
took place frequently in suspected houses. Father Gerard, in
his Autobiography, has handed down to us many curious details of
the mode of procedure upon these occasions--how the search-party
would bring with them skilled carpenters and masons and try every
possible expedient, from systematic measurements and soundings to
bodily tearing down the panelling and pulling up the floors. It
was not an uncommon thing for a rigid search to last a fortnight
and for the "pursuivants" to go away empty handed, while perhaps
the object of the search was hidden the whole time within a wall's
thickness of his pursuers, half starved, cramped and sore with
prolonged confinement, and almost afraid to breathe, lest the
least sound should throw suspicion upon the particular spot where
he lay immured.

After the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot, "Little John" and
his master, Father Garnet, were arrested at Hindlip Hall,
Worcestershire, from information given to the Government by Catesby's
servant Bates. Cecil, who was well aware of Owen's skill in
constructing hiding-places, wrote exultingly: "Great joy was
caused all through the kingdom by the arrest of Owen, knowing
his skill in constructing hiding-places, and the innumerable
number of these dark holes which he had schemed for hiding priests
throughout the kingdom." He hoped that "great booty of priests"
might be taken in consequence of the secrets Owen would be made
to reveal, and directed that first he should "be coaxed if he
be willing to contract for his life," but that "the secret is
to be wrung from him." The horrors of the rack, however, failed
in its purpose. His terrible death is thus briefly recorded by
the Governor of the Tower at that time: "The man is dead--he
died in our hands"; and perhaps it is as well the ghastly details
did not transpire in his report.

The curious old mansion Hindlip Hall (pulled down in the early
part of the last century) was erected in 1572 by John Abingdon, or
Habington, whose son Thomas (the brother-in-law of Lord Monteagle)
was deeply involved in the numerous plots against the reformed
religion. A long imprisonment in the Tower for his futile efforts
to set Mary Queen of Scots at liberty, far from curing the dangerous
schemes of this zealous partisan of the luckless Stuart heroine,
only kept him out of mischief for a time. No sooner had he obtained
his freedom than he set his mind to work to turn his house in
Worcestershire into a harbour of refuge for the followers of
the older rites. In the quaint irregularities of the masonry
free scope was given to "Little John's" ingenuity; indeed, there
is every proof that some of his masterpieces were constructed
here. A few years before the "Powder Plot" was discovered, it
was a hanging matter for a priest to be caught celebrating the
Mass. Yet with the facilities at Hindlip he might do so with
comfort, with every assurance that he had the means of evading
the law. The walls of the mansion were literally riddled with
secret chambers and passages. There was little fear of being
run to earth with hidden exits everywhere. Wainscoting, solid
brickwork, or stone hearth were equally accommodating, and would
swallow up fugitives wholesale, and close over them, to "Open,
Sesame!" again only at the hider's pleasure.



The capture of Father Garnet and "Little John" with two others,
Hall and Chambers, at Hindlip, as detailed in a curious manuscript
in the British Museum, gives us an insight into the search-proof
merits of Abingdon's mansion. The document is headed: "_A true
discovery of the service performed at Hindlip, the house of Mr.
Thomas Abbingdon, for the apprehension of Mr. Henry Garnet, alias
Wolley, provincial of the Jesuits, and other dangerous persons,
there found in January last,_ 1605," and runs on:--

"After the king's royal promise of bountiful reward to such as
would apprehend the traitors concerned in the Powder Conspiracy,
and much expectation of subject-like duty, but no return made
thereof in so important a matter, a warrant was directed to the
right worthy and worshipful knight, Sir Henry Bromlie; and the
proclamation delivered therewith, describing the features and
shapes of the men, for the better discovering them. He, not
neglecting so a weighty a business, horsing himself with a seemly
troop of his own attendants, and calling to his assistance so
many as in discretion was thought meet, having likewise in his
company Sir Edward Bromlie, on Monday, Jan. 20 last, by break
of day, did engirt and round beat the house of Mayster Thomas
Abbingdon, at Hindlip, near Worcester. Mr. Abbingdon, not being
then at home, but ridden abroad about some occasions best known
to himself; the house being goodlie, and of great receipt, it
required the more diligent labour and pains in the searching.
It appeared there was no want; and Mr. Abbingdon himself coming
home that night, the commission and proclamation being shown unto
him, he denied any such men to be in his house, and voluntarily
to die at his own gate, if any such were to be found in his house,
or in that shire. But this liberal or rather rash speech could
not cause the search so slightly to be given over; the cause
enforced more respect than words of that or any such like nature;
and proceeding on according to the trust reposed in him in the
gallery over the gate there were found two cunning and very
artificial conveyances in the main brick-wall, so ingeniously
framed, and with such art, as it cost much labour ere they could
be found. Three other secret places, contrived by no less skill
and industry, were found in and about the chimneys, in one whereof
two of the traitors were close concealed. These chimney-conveyances
being so strangely formed, having the entrances into them so
curiously covered over with brick, mortared and made fast to
planks of wood, and coloured black, like the other parts of the
chimney, that very diligent inquisition might well have passed
by, without throwing the least suspicion upon such unsuspicious
places. And whereas divers funnels are usually made to chimneys
according as they are combined together, and serve for necessary
use in several rooms, so here were some that exceeded common
expectation, seeming outwardly fit for carrying forth smoke;
but being further examined and seen into, their service was to
no such purpose but only to lend air and light downward into
the concealments, where such as were concealed in them, at any
time should be hidden. Eleven secret corners and conveyances
were found in the said house, all of them having books, Massing
stuff, and Popish trumpery in them, only two excepted, which
appeared to have been found on former searches, and therefore
had now the less credit given to them; but Mayster Abbingdon
would take no knowledge of any of these places, nor that the
books, or Massing stuff, were any of his, until at length the
deeds of his lands being found in one of them, whose custody
doubtless he would not commit to any place of neglect, or where
he should have no intelligence of them, whereto he could [not]
then devise any sufficient excuse.


Three days had been wholly spent, and no man found there all
this while; but upon the fourth day, in the morning, from behind
the wainscot in the galleries, came forth two men of their own
voluntary accord, as being no longer able there to conceal
themselves; for they confessed that they had but one apple between
them, which was all the sustenance they had received during the
time they were thus hidden. One of them was named Owen, who
afterwards murdered himself in the Tower; and the other Chambers;
but they would take no other knowledge of any other men's being
in the house. On the eighth day the before-mentioned place in
the chimney was found, according as they had all been at several
times, one after another, though before set down together, for
expressing the just number of them.

"Forth of this secret and most cunning conveyance came Henry
Garnet, the Jesuit, sought for, and another with him, named Hall;
marmalade and other sweetmeats were found there lying by them;
but their better maintenance had been by a quill or reed, through
a little hole in the chimney that backed another chimney into
the gentlewoman's chamber; and by that passage candles, broths,
and warm drinks had been conveyed in unto them.

"Now in regard the place was in so close... and did much annoy
them that made entrance in upon them, to whom they confessed
that they had not been able to hold out one whole day longer,
but either they must have squeeled, or perished in the place.
The whole service endured the space of eleven nights and twelve
days, and no more persons being there found, in company with
Mayster Abbingdon himself, Garnet, Hill [Hall], Owen, and Chambers,
were brought up to London to understand further of his highness's

That the Government had good grounds for suspecting Hindlip and
its numerous hiding-places may be gathered from the official
instructions the Worcestershire Justice of the Peace and his
search-party had to follow. The wainscoting in the east part of
the parlour and in the dining-room, being suspected of screening
"a vault" or passage, was to be removed, the walls and floors
were to be pierced in all directions, comparative measurements
were to be taken between the upper and the lower rooms, and in
particular the chimneys, and the roof had to be minutely examined and
measurements taken, which might bring to light some unaccounted-for
space that had been turned to good account by the unfortunate
inventor, who was eventually starved out of one of his clever

Only shortly before Owen had had a very narrow escape at Stoke
Poges while engaged in constructing "priests' holes" at the Manor
House. The secluded position of this building adapted it for
the purpose for which a Roman Catholic zealot had taken it. But
this was not the only advantage. The walls were of vast thickness
and offered every facility for turning them to account. While
"Little John" was busily engaged burrowing into the masonry the
dreaded "pursuivants" arrived; but somehow or other he slipped
between their fingers and got away under cover of the surrounding

The wing of this old mansion which has survived to see the twentieth
century witnessed many strange events. It has welcomed good Queen
Bess, guarded the Martyr King, and refused admittance to Dutch
William. A couple of centuries after it had sheltered hunted
Jesuits, a descendant of William Penn became possessed of it,
and cleared away many of the massive walls, in some of which--who
can tell?--were locked up secrets that the rack failed to
reveal--secrets by which Owen "murdered himself" in the Tower!

One of the hiding-places at Hindlip, it will be remembered, could
be supplied with broth, wine, or any liquid nourishment through
a small aperture in the wall of the adjoining room. A very good
example of such an arrangement may still be seen at Irnham Hall, in
Lincolnshire.[1] A large hiding-place could thus be accommodated,
but detection of the narrow iron tube by which the imprisoned
fugitive could be kept alive was practically impossible. A solid
oak beam, forming a step between two bedrooms, concealed a panel
into which the tube was cunningly fitted and the step was so
arranged that it could be removed and replaced with the greatest

[Footnote 1: The fire which destroyed a wing of Irnham Hall a
few years ago fortunately did not touch that part of the building
containing a hiding-place.]

[Footnote 2: Harvington Hall, mentioned hereafter, has a contrivance
of this kind.]

The hiding-place at Irnham (which measures eight feet by five,
and about five feet six inches in height) was discovered by a
tell-tale chimney that was not in the least blackened by soot
or smoke. This originally gave the clue to the secret, and when
the shaft of the chimney was examined, it was found to lead direct
to the priest's hole, to which it afforded air and light.

Had not the particular hiding-place in which Garnet and his
companions sought shelter been discovered, they could well have
held out the twelve days' search. As a rule, a small stock of
provisions was kept in these places, as the visits of the search
parties were necessarily very sudden and unexpected. The way down
into these hidden quarters was from the floor above, through
the hearth of a fireplace, which could be raised an lowered like
a trap-door.[1]

[Footnote 1: See Fowlis's _Romish Treasons._]

In a letter from Garnet to Ann Vaux, preserved in the Record
Office, he thus describes his precarious situation: "After we
had been in the hoale seven days and seven nights and some odd
hours, every man may well think we were well wearyed, and indeed
so it was, for we generally satte, save that some times we could
half stretch ourselves, the place not being high eno', and we had
our legges so straitened that we could not, sitting, find place
for them, so that we both were in continuous paine of our legges,
and both our legges, especially mine, were much swollen. We were
very merry and content within, and heard the searchers every day
most curious over us, which made me indeed think the place would
be found. When we came forth we appeared like ghosts."[2]

[Footnote 2: _State Papers_, Domestic (James I.).]

There is an old timber-framed cottage near the modern mansion
of Hindlip which is said to have had its share in sheltering the
plotters. A room is pointed out where Digby and Catesby concealed
themselves, and from one of the chimneys at some time or another
a priest was captured and led to execution.



In the parish of Wimbish, about six miles from Saffron Walden,
stand the remains of a fine old Tudor house named Broad Oaks,
or Braddocks, which in Elizabeth's reign was a noted house for
priest-hunting. Wandering through its ancient rooms, the imagination
readily carries us back to the drama enacted here three centuries
ago with a vividness as if the events recorded had happened
yesterday. "The chapel" and priests' holes may still be seen, and
a fine old stone fireplace that was stripped of its overmantel,
etc., of carved oak by the "pursuivants" in their vain efforts
when Father Gerard was concealed in the house.

[Illustration: BRADDOCKS, ESSEX]


The old Essex family of Wiseman of Braddocks were staunch Romanists,
and their home, being a noted resort for priests, received from
time to time sudden visits. The dreaded Topcliffe had upon one
occasion nearly brought the head of the family, an aged widow lady,
to the horrors of the press-yard, but her punishment eventually
took the form of imprisonment. Searches at Braddocks had brought
forth hiding-places, priests, compromising papers, and armour
and weapons. Let us see with what success the house was explored
in the Easter of the year 1594.

Gerard gives his exciting experiences as follows[1]:--

[Footnote 1: See Autobiography of Father John Gerard.]

"The searchers broke down the door, and forcing their way in,
spread through the house with great noise and racket.

"Their first step was to lock up the mistress of the house[2] in
her own room with her two daughters, and the Catholic servants
they kept locked up in divers places in the same part of the

[Footnote 2: Jane Wiseman, wife of William Wiseman. N.B.--The
late Cardinal Wiseman was descended from a junior branch of this
family. See Life of Father John Gerard, by John Morris.]

"They then took to themselves the whole house, which was of a good
size, and made a thorough search in every part, not forgetting
even to look under the tiles of the roof. The darkest corners
they examined with the help of candles. Finding nothing whatever
they began to break down certain places that they suspected.
They measured the walls with long rods, so that if they did not
tally they might pierce the part not accounted for. Then they
sounded the walls and all the floors to find out and break into
any hollow places there might be.

"They spent two days in this work without finding anything. Thinking
therefore that I had gone on Easter Sunday, the two magistrates
went away on the second day, leaving the pursuivants to take
the mistress of the house and all her Catholic servants of both
sexes to London to be examined and imprisoned. They meant to
leave some who were not Catholics to keep the house, the traitor
(one of the servants of the house) being one of them.

"The good lady was pleased at this, for she hoped that he would
be the means of freeing me and rescuing me from death; for she
knew that I had made up my mind to suffer and die of starvation
between two walls, rather than come forth and save my own life
at the expense of others.

"In fact, during those four days that I lay hid I had nothing
to eat but a biscuit or two and a little quince jelly, which
my hostess had at hand and gave me as I was going in.

"She did not look for any more, as she supposed that the search
would not last beyond a day. But now that two days were gone
and she was to be carried off on the third with all her trusty
servants, she began to be afraid of my dying of sheer hunger.
She bethought herself then of the traitor who she heard was to
be left behind. He had made a great fuss and show of eagerness in
withstanding the searchers when they first forced their way in.
For all that she would not have let him know of the hiding-places,
had she not been in such straits. Thinking it better, however,
to rescue me from certain death, even at some risk to herself,
she charged him, when she was taken away and everyone had gone,
to go into a certain room, call me by my wonted name, and tell
me that the others had been taken to prison, but that he was left
to deliver me. I would then answer, she said, from behind the
lath and plaster where I lay concealed. The traitor promised to
obey faithfully; but he was faithful only to the faithless, for
he unfolded the whole matter to the ruffians who had remained

"No sooner had they heard it than they called back the magistrates
who had departed. These returned early in the morning and renewed
the search.

"They measured and sounded everywhere much more carefully than
before, especially in the chamber above mentioned, in order to
find out some hollow place. But finding nothing whatever during
the whole of the third day, they proposed on the morrow to strip
off the wainscot of that room.

"Meanwhile, they set guards in all the rooms about to watch all
night, lest I should escape. I heard from my hiding-place the
password which the captain of the band gave to his soldiers, and
I might have got off by using it, were it not that they would
have seen me issuing from my retreat, for there were two on guard
in the chapel where I got into my hiding-place, and several also
in the large wainscoted room which had been pointed out to them.

"But mark the wonderful Providence of God. Here was I in my
hiding-place. The way I got into it was by taking up the floor,
made of wood and bricks, under the fireplace. The place was so
constructed that a fire could not be lit in it without damaging
the house; though we made a point of keeping wood there, as if
it were meant for a fire.

"Well, the men on the night watch lit a fire in this very grate
and began chatting together close to it. Soon the bricks which
had not bricks but wood underneath them got loose, and nearly
fell out of their places as the wood gave way. On noticing this
and probing the place with a stick, they found that the bottom
was made of wood, whereupon they remarked that this was something
curious. I thought that they were going there and then to break
open the place and enter, but they made up their minds at last
to put off further examination till next day.

"Next morning, therefore, they renewed the search most carefully,
everywhere except in the top chamber which served as a chapel,
and in which the two watchmen had made a fire over my head and
had noticed the strange make of the grate. God had blotted out
of their memory all remembrance of the thing. Nay, none of the
searchers entered the place the whole day, though it was the
one that was most open to suspicion, and if they had entered,
they would have found me without any search; rather, I should
say, they would have seen me, for the fire had burnt a great
hole in my hiding-place, and had I not got a little out of the
way, the hot embers would have fallen on me.

"The searchers, forgetting or not caring about this room, busied
themselves in ransacking the rooms below, in one of which I was
said to be. In fact, they found the other hiding-place which I
thought of going into, as I mentioned before. It was not far
off, so I could hear their shouts of joy when they first found
it. But after joy comes grief; and so it was with them. The only
thing that they found was a goodly store of provision laid up.
Hence they may have thought that this was the place that the
mistress of the house meant; in fact, an answer might have been
given from it to the call of a person in the room mentioned by

"They stuck to their purpose, however, of stripping off all the
wainscot of the other large room. So they set a man to work near
the ceiling, close to the place where I was: for the lower part
of the walls was covered with tapestry, not with wainscot. So
they stripped off the wainscot all round till they came again
to the very place where I lay, and there they lost heart and
gave up the search.

"My hiding-place was in a thick wall of the chimney behind a
finely inlaid and carved mantelpiece. They could not well take
the carving down without risk of breaking it. Broken, however,
it would have been, and that into a thousand pieces, had they
any conception that I could be concealed behind it. But knowing
that there were two flues, they did not think that there could
be room enough there for a man.

"Nay, before this, on the second day of the search, they had
gone into the room above, and tried the fireplace through which
I had got into my hole. They then got into the chimney by a ladder
to sound with their hammers. One said to another in my hearing,
'Might there not be a place here for a person to get down into
the wall of the chimney below by lifting up this hearth?' 'No,'
answered one of the pursuivants, whose voice I knew, 'you could
not get down that way into the chimney underneath, but there
might easily be an entrance at the back of this chimney.' So
saying he gave the place a knock. I was afraid that he would hear
the hollow sound of the hole where I was.

"Seeing that their toil availed them nought, they thought that
I had escaped somehow, and so they went away at the end of the
four days, leaving the mistress and her servants free. The yet
unbetrayed traitor stayed after the searchers were gone. As soon
as the doors of the house were made fast, the mistress came to
call me, another four days buried Lazarus, from what would have
been my tomb, had the search continued a little longer. For I
was all wasted and weakened as well with hunger as with want
of sleep and with having to sit so long in such a narrow space.
After coming out I was seen by the traitor, whose treachery was
still unknown to us. He did nothing then, not even to send after
the searchers, as he knew that I meant to be off before they
could be recalled."

The Wisemans had another house at North End, a few miles to the
south-east of Dunmow. Here were also "priests' holes," one of
which (in a chimney) secreted a certain Father Brewster during
a rigid search in December, 1593.[1]

[Footnote 1: _State Papers_, Dom. (Eliz.), December, 1593.
See also Life of Father John Gerard, p. 138.]

Great Harrowden, near Wellingborough, the ancient seat of the Vaux
family, was another notorious sanctuary for persecuted recusants.
Gerard spent much of his time here in apartments specially
constructed for his use, and upon more than one occasion had to
have recourse to the hiding-places. Some four or five years after
his experiences at Braddocks he narrowly escaped his pursuers in
this way; and in 1605, when the "pursuivants" were scouring the
country for him, as he was supposed to be privy to the Gunpowder
Plot, he owed his life to a secret chamber at Harrowden. The
search-party remained for nine days. Night and day men were posted
round the house, and every approach was guarded within a radius
of three miles. With the hope of getting rid of her unwelcome
guests, Lady Vaux revealed one of the "priests' holes" to prove
there was nothing in her house beyond a few prohibited books;
but this did not have the desired effect, so the unfortunate
inmate of the hiding-place had to continue in a cramped position,
there being no room to stand up, for four or five days more. His
hostess, however, managed to bring him food, and moments were
seized during the latter days of the search to get him out that
he might warm his benumbed limbs by a fire. While these things
were going on at Harrowden, another priest, little thinking into
whose hands the well-known sanctuary had fallen, came thither
to seek shelter; but was seized and carried to an inn, whence
it was intended he should be removed to London on the following
day. But he managed to outwit his captors. To evade suspicion
he threw off his cloak and sword, and under a pretext of giving
his horse drink at a stream close by the stable, seized a lucky
moment, mounted, and dashed into the water, swam across, and
galloped off to the nearest house that could offer the convenience
of a hiding-place.[1]

[Footnote 1: See Life of John Gerard, p. 386.]

At Hackney the Vaux family had another, residence with its chapel
and "priest's hole," the latter having a masked entrance high
up in the wall, which led to a space under a gable projection
of the roof. For double security this contained yet an inner
hiding-place. In the existing Brooke House are incorporated the
modernised remains of this mansion.



Lord Vaux of Harrowden, Sir William Catesby of Ashby St. Ledgers,
and Sir Thomas Tresham of Rushton Hall (all in Northamptonshire)
were upon more than one occasion arraigned before the Court of the
Star Chamber for harbouring Jesuits. The old mansions Ashby St.
Ledgers and Rushton fortunately still remain intact and preserve
many traditions of Romanist plots. Sir William Catesby's son Robert,
the chief conspirator, is said to have held secret meetings in the
curious oak-panelled room over the gate-house of the former, which
goes by the name of "the Plot Room." Once upon a time it was provided
with a secret means of escape. At Rushton Hall a hiding-place was
discovered in 1832 behind a lintel over a doorway; it was full
of bundles of manuscripts, prohibited books, and incriminating
correspondence of the conspirator Tresham. Another place of
concealment was situated in the chimney of the great hall and in
this Father Oldcorn was hidden for a time. Gayhurst, or Gothurst,
in Buckinghamshire, the seat of Sir Everard Digby, also remains
intact, one of the finest late Tudor buildings in the country;
unfortunately, however, only recently a remarkable "priest's
hole" that was here has been destroyed in consequence of modern
improvements. It was a double hiding-place, one situated beneath
the other; the lower one being so arranged as to receive light and
air from the bottom portion of a large mullioned window--a most
ingenious device. A secret passage in the hall had communication
with it, and entrance was obtained through part of the flooring
of an apartment, the movable part of the boards revolving upon
pivots and sufficiently solid to vanquish any suspicion as to
a hollow space beneath.



As may be supposed, tradition says that at the time of Digby's
arrest he was dragged forth from this hole, but history shows
that he was taken prisoner at Holbeach House (where, it will be
remembered, the conspirators Catesby and Percy were shot), and
led to execution. For a time Digby sought security at Coughton
Court, the seat of the Throckmortons, in Warwickshire. The house of
this old Roman Catholic family, of course, had its hiding-holes,
one of which remains to this day. Holbeach as well as Hagley
Hall, the homes of the Litteltons, have been rebuilt. The latter
was pulled down in the middle of the eighteenth century. Here
it was that Stephen Littleton and Robert Winter were captured
through the treachery of the cook. Grant's house, Norbrook, in
Warwickshire, has also given way to a modern one.

Ambrose Rookwood's seat, Coldham Hall, near Bury St. Edmunds,
exists and retains its secret chapel and hiding-places. There are
three of the latter; one of them, now a small withdrawing-room,
is entered from the oak wainscoted hall. When the house was in
the market a few years ago, the "priests' holes" duly figured in
the advertisements with the rest of the apartments and offices.
It read a little odd, this juxtaposition of modern conveniences
with what is essentially romantic, and we simply mention the
fact to show that the auctioneer is well aware of the monetary
value of such things.

At the time of the Gunpowder Conspiracy Rookwood rented Clopton
Hall, near Stratford-on-Avon. This house also has its little
chapel in the roof with adjacent "priests' holes," but many
alterations have taken place from time to time. Who does not
remember William Howitt's delightful description--or, to be correct,
the description of a lady correspondent--of the old mansion before
these restorations. "There was the old Catholic chapel," she wrote,
"with a chaplain's room which had been walled up and forgotten till
within the last few years. I went in on my hands and knees, for the
entrance was very low. I recollect little in the chapel; but in
the chaplain's room were old and I should think rare editions of
many books, mostly folios. A large yellow paper copy of Dryden's
_All for Love, or the World Well Lost_, date 1686, caught
my eye, and is the only one I particularly remember."[1]

[Footnote 1: Howitt's _Visits to Remarkable Places_.]

Huddington Court, the picturesque old home of the Winters (of
whom Robert and Thomas lost their lives for their share in the
Plot), stands a few miles from Droitwich. A considerable quantity
of arms and ammunition were stored in the hiding-places here in
1605 in readiness for general rising.



Two other houses may be mentioned in connection with the memorable
Plot--houses that were rented by the conspirators as convenient
places of rendezvous an account of their hiding-places and masked
exits for escape. One of them stood in the vicinity of the Strand,
in the fields behind St. Clement's Inn. Father Gerard had taken
it some time previous to the discovery of the Plot, and with
Owen's aid some very secure hiding-places were arranged. This he
had done with two or three other London residences, so that he
and his brother priests might use them upon hazardous occasions;
and to one of these he owed his life when the hue and cry after
him was at its highest pitch. By removing from one to the other
they avoided detection, though they had many narrow escapes. One
priest was celebrating Mass when the Lord Mayor and constables
suddenly burst in. But the surprise party was disappointed: nothing
could be detected beyond the smoke of the extinguished candles;
and in addition to the hole where the fugitive crouched there
were two other secret chambers, neither of which was discovered.
On another occasion a priest was left shut up in a wall; his
friends were taken prisoners, and he was in danger of starvation,
until at length he was rescued from his perilous position, carried
to one of the other houses, and again immured in the vault or

The other house was "White Webb's," on the confines of Enfield
Chase. In the Record Office there is a document describing how,
many Popish books and relics were discovered when the latter
was searched. The building was full of trap-doors and secret
passages. Some vestiges of the out-buildings of "White Webb's"
may still be seen in a quaint little inn called "The King and

But of all the narrow escapes perhaps Father Blount's experiences
at Scotney Castle were the most thrilling. This old house of
the Darrells, situated on the border of Kent and Sussex, like
Hindlip and Braddocks and most of the residences of the Roman
Catholic gentry, contained the usual lurking-places for priests.
The structure as it now stands is in the main modern, having
undergone from time to time considerable alterations. A vivid
account of Blount's hazardous escape here is preserved among the
muniments at Stonyhurst--a transcript of the original formerly
at St. Omers.

One Christmas night towards the close of Elizabeth's reign the
castle was seized by a party of priest-hunters, who, with their
usual mode of procedure, locked up the members of the family securely
before starting on their operations. In the inner quadrangle of
the mansion was a very remarkable and ingenious device. A large
stone of the solid wall could be pushed aside. Though of immense
weight, it was so nicely balanced and adjusted that it required
only a slight pressure upon one side to effect an entrance to
the hiding-place within. Those who have visited the grounds at
Chatsworth may remember a huge piece of solid rock which can be
swung round in the same easy manner. Upon the approach of the
enemy, Father Blount and his servant hastened to the courtyard
and entered the vault; but in their hurry to close the weighty
door a small portion of one of their girdles got jammed in, so
that a part was visible from the outside. Fortunately for the
fugitives, someone in the secret, in passing the spot, happened
to catch sight of this tell-tale fragment and immediately cut
it off; but as a particle still showed, they called gently to
those within to endeavour to pull it in, which they eventually
succeeded in doing.

At this moment the pursuivants were at work in another part of
the castle, but hearing the voice in the courtyard, rushed into
it and commenced battering the walls, and at times upon the very
door of the hiding-place, which would have given way had not
those within put their combined weight against it to keep it
from yielding. It was a pitchy dark night, and it was pelting
with rain, so after a time, discouraged at finding nothing and
wet to the skin, the soldiers put off further search until the
following morning, and proceeded to dry and refresh themselves
by the fire in the great hall.

When all was at rest, Father Blount and his man, not caring to
risk another day's hunting, cautiously crept forth bare-footed,
and after managing to scale some high walls, dropt into the moat
and swam across. And it was as well for them that they decided
to quit their hiding-hole, for next morning it was discovered.

The fugitives found temporary security at another recusant house
a few miles from Scotney, possibly the old half-timber house of
Twissenden, where a secret chapel and adjacent "priests' holes"
are still pointed out.

The original manuscript account of the search at Scotney was
written by one of the Darrell family, who was in the castle at
the time of the events recorded.[1]

[Footnote 1: See Morris's _Troubles of our Catholic



We will now go in search of some of the most curious hiding-places
in existence. There are numerous known examples all over the
country, and perhaps as many again exist, which will preserve
their secret for ever. For more than three hundred years they
have remained buried, and unless some accident reveals their
locked-up mysteries, they will crumble away with the walls which
contain them; unless, indeed, fire, the doom of so many of our
ancestral halls, reduces them to ashes and swallows up the weird
stories they might have told. In many cases not until an ancient
building is pulled down are such strange discoveries made; but,
alas! there are as many instances where structural alterations
have wantonly destroyed these interesting historical landmarks.



Unaccounted-for spaces, when detected, are readily utilised.
Passages are bodily run through the heart of many a secret device,
with little veneration for the mechanical ingenuity that has
been displayed in their construction. The builder of to-day,
as a rule, knows nothing of and cares less, for such things,
and so they are swept away without a thought. To such vandals
we can only emphasise the remarks we have already made about
the market value of a "priest-hole" nowadays.

A little to the right of the Kidderminster road, and about two
miles from the pretty village of Chaddesley Corbet, with its old
timber houses and inn, stands the ghostly old hall of Harvington.
The ancient red-brick pile rises out of its reed-grown moat with
that air of mystery which age and seeming neglect only can impart.
Coming upon it unexpectedly, especially towards dusk, one is
struck with the strange, dignified melancholy pervading it. Surely
Hood's _Haunted House_ or Poe's _House of Usher_ stands
before us, and we cannot get away from the impression that a
mystery is wrapped within its walls. Harvington Hall dates from
the reign of Henry VIII., but it has undergone various changes,
so it is difficult to affix any particular period or style to
its architecture; indeed, it is this medley of different styles
which forms such a poetically picturesque outline. In its day
Harvington could doubtless hold its own with the finest mansions
in the country, but now it is forgotten, deserted, and crumbling
to pieces. Its very history appears to be lost to the world, as
those who go to the county histories and general topographical
works for information will find.

Inside the mansion, like the exterior, the hand of decay is
perceptible on every side; the rooms are ruined, the windows
broken, the floors unsafe (excepting, by the way, a small portion
of the building which is habitable). A ponderous broad oak staircase
leads to a dismantled state-room, shorn of the principal part of
its panelling, carving, and chimney-pieces.[1] Other desolate
apartments retain their names as if in mockery; "the drawing-room,"
"the chapel," "Lady Yates's nursery," and so forth. At the top
of the staircase, however, we must look around carefully, for
beneath the stairs is a remarkable hiding-place.

[Footnote 1: Most of the interior fittings were removed to Coughton
Court, Warwickshire.]

With a slight stretch of the imagination we can see an indistinct
form stealthily remove the floorboard of one of the stairs and
creep beneath it. This particular step of a short flight running
from the landing into a garret is, upon closer inspection, indeed
movable, and beneath gapes a dark cavity about five feet square, on
the floor of which still remains the piece of sedge matting whereon
a certain Father Wall rested his aching limbs a few days prior to
his capture and execution in August, 1679. The unfortunate man
was taken at Rushock Court, a few miles away where he was traced
after leaving Harvington. There is a communication between the
hiding-place and "the banqueting-room" through, a small concealed
aperture in the wainscoting large enough to admit of a tube,
through which a straw could be thrust for the unhappy occupant
to suck up any liquid his friends might be able to supply.

In a gloomy corridor leading from the tower to "the reception-room"
is another "priest's hole" beneath the floor, and entered by a
trap-door artfully hidden in the boards; this black recess is
some seven feet in depth, and can be made secure from within.
Supposing the searchers had tracked a fugitive priest as far
as this corridor, the odds are in favour that they would have
passed over his head in their haste to reach the tower, where
they would make sure, in their own minds at least, of discovering
him. Again, here there is a communication with the outside world.
An oblong aperture in the top oak beam of the entrance gateway
to the house, measuring about four inches across, is the secret
opening--small enough to escape the most inquisitive eye, yet
large enough to allow of a written note to pass between the captive
and those upon the alert watching his interests.[1]

[Footnote 1: N.B.--In addition to the above hiding-places at
Harvington, one was discovered so recently as 1894; at least,
so we have been informed. This was some years after our visit
to the old Hall.]

A subterranean passage is said to run under the moat from a former
hiding-place, but this is doubtful; at any rate, there are no
evidences of it nowadays.



Altogether, Harvington is far from cheerful, even to a pond hard
by called "Gallows Pool"! The tragic legend associated with this
is beyond the province of the present work, so we will bid adieu
to this weird old hall, and turn our attention to another obscure
house situated in the south-east corner of Berkshire.

The curious, many-gabled mansion Ufton Court both from its secluded
situation and quaint internal construction, appears to have been
peculiarly suitable for the secretion of persecuted priests. Here
are ample means for concealment and escape into the surrounding
woods; and so carefully have the ingenious bolts and locks of
the various hiding-places been preserved, that one would almost
imagine that there was still actual necessity for their use in
these matter-of-fact days!

A remarkable place for concealment exists in one of the gables
close to the ceiling. It is triangular in shape, and is opened
by a spring-bolt that can be unlatched by pulling a string which
runs through a tiny hole pierced in the framework of the door of
the adjoining room. The door of the hiding-place swings upon a
pivot, and externally is thickly covered with plaster, so as to
resemble the rest of the wall, and is so solid that when sounded
there is no hollow sound from the cavity behind, where, no doubt
the crucifix and sacred vessels were secreted.



Not far off, in an upper garret, is a hiding-place in the thickness
of the wall, large enough to contain a man standing upright.
Like the other, the door, or entrance, forms part of the plaster
wall, intersected by thick oak beams, into which it exactly fits,
disguising any appearance of an opening. Again, in one of the
passages of this curious old mansion are further evidences of
the hardships to which Romish priests were subjected--a trap in
the floor, which can only be opened by pulling up what exteriorly
appears to be the head of one of the nails of the flooring; by
raising this a spring is released and a trap-door opened, revealing
a large hole with a narrow ladder leading down into it. When
this hiding-place was discovered in 1830, its contents were
significant--_viz._ a crucifix and two ancient petronels.
Apartments known as "the chapel" and "the priest's vestry" are
still pointed out. The walls throughout the house appear to be
intersected with passages and masked spaces, and old residents
claim to have worked their way by these means right through from
the garrets to the basement, though now the several hiding-places
do not communicate one with another. There are said to be no
less than twelve places of concealment in various parts of the
building. A shaft in the cellar is supposed to be one of the
means of exit from "the dining-room," and at the back of the
house a subterranean passage may still be traced a considerable
distance under the terrace.


[Illustration: INGATESTONE HALL]

An interesting discovery was made some years ago at Ingatestone
Hall, Essex, the ancient seat of the Petres. The late Rev. Canon
Last, who had resided there as private chaplain for over sixty
years, described to us the incidents of this curious "find," to
which he was an eye-witness. Some of the floor-boards in the
south-east corner of a small ante-room adjoining what was once
"the host's bedroom," facing the south front, broke away, rotten
with age, while some children were playing there. These being
removed, a second layer of boards was brought to light within
a foot of the old flooring, and in this a trap-door was found
which, when opened, discovered a large "priest's hole," measuring
fourteen feet long, ten feet high, and two feet wide. A twelve-step
ladder led down into it, and the floor being on a level with the
basement of the house was covered with a layer of dry sand to
the depth of nearly a foot, so as to absorb any moisture from
the ground.[1] In the sand a few bones of a bird were found,
possibly the remains of food supplied to some unfortunate priest.
Those who climb down into this hole will find much that is
interesting to repay them their trouble. From the wall projects
a candle-holder, rudely modelled out of clay. An examination of
the brick-work in the interior of the "priest's hole" proves
it to be of later construction than the rest of the house (which
dates from the early part of the sixteenth century), so in all
likelihood "Little John" was the manufacturer.

[Footnote 1: At Moorcroft House, near Hillingdon, Middlesex,
now modernised and occupied as a private lunatic asylum, ten
priests were once concealed for four days in a hiding-place,
the floor of which was covered some inches in water. This was
one of the many comforts of a "priest's hole"!]

Standing in the same position as when first opened, and supported
by two blocks of oak, is an old chest or packing-case made of
yew, covered with leather, and bound with bands of iron, wherein
formerly the vestments, utensils, etc., for the Mass were kept.
Upon it, in faded and antiquated writing, was the following
direction: "For the Right Hon. the Lady Petre at Ingatestone
Hall, in Essex." The Petres had quitted the old mansion as a
residence for considerably over a century when the discovery was




Of all the ancient mansions in the United Kingdom, and there is
still, happily, a large selection, none perhaps is so picturesque and
quaintly original in its architecture as the secluded Warwickshire
house Compton Winyates. The general impression of its vast
complication of gable ends and twisted chimneys is that some
enchanted palace has found its way out of one of the fairy-tale
books of our early youth and concealed itself deep down in a
sequestered hollow among the woods and hills. We say concealed
itself, for indeed it is no easy matter to find it, for anything
in the shape of a road seems rather to lead _away from_,
than _to_ it; indeed, there is no direct road from anywhere,
and if we are fortunate enough to alight upon a footpath, that
also in a very short time fades away into oblivion! So solitary
also is the valley in which the mansion lies and so shut in with
thick clustering trees, that one unacquainted with the locality
might pass within fifty yards of it over and over again without
observing a trace of it. When, however, we do discover the beautiful
old structure, we are well repaid for what trouble we may have
encountered. To locate the spot within a couple of miles, we
may state that Brailes is its nearest village; the nearest town
is Banbury, some nine miles away to the east.

Perhaps if we were to analyse the peculiar charm this venerable
pile conveys, we should find that it is the wonderful _colour_,
the harmonies of greys and greens and reds which pervade its
countless chimney clusters and curious step-gables. We will be
content, however, with the fascinating results, no matter how
accomplished, without inquiring into the why and wherefore; and
pondering over the possibilities of the marvellous in such a
building see, if the interior can carry out such a supposition.

[Illustration: SCOTNEY HALL, SUSSEX]


Wending our way to the top of the house, past countless old-world
rooms and corridors, we soon discover evidences of the days of
priest-hunting. A "Protestant" chapel is on the ground floor
(with a grotesquely carved screen of great beauty), but up in
the roof we discover another--a "Popish" chapel. From this there
are numerous ways of escape, by staircases and passages leading
in all directions, for even in the almost impenetrable seclusion
of this house the profoundest secrecy was necessary for those
who wished to celebrate the rites of the forbidden religion.
Should the priest be surprised and not have time to descend one
of the many staircases and effect his escape by the ready means
in the lower part of the house, there are secret closets between
the timber beams of the roof and the wainscot into which he could

Curious rooms run along each side in the roof round the quadrangle,
called "the barracks," into which it would be possible to pack
away a whole regiment of soldiers. Not far away are "the false
floors," a typical Amy Robsart death-trap!

A place of security here, once upon a time, could only be reached
by a ladder; later, however, it was made easier of access by a
dark passage, but it was as secure as ever from intrusion. The
fugitive had the ready means of isolating himself by removing
a large portion of the floor-boards; supposing, therefore, his
lurking-place had been traced, he had only to arrange this deadly
gap, and his pursuers would run headlong to their fate.

Many other strange rooms there are, not the least interesting
of which is a tiny apartment away from everywhere called "the
Devil's chamber," and another little chamber whose window is
_invariably found open in the morning, though securely fastened
on the previous night!_

Various finds have been made from time to time at Compton Winyates.
Not many years ago a bricked-up space was found in a wall containing
a perfect skeleton!--at another an antique box full of papers
belonging to the past history of the family (the Comptons) was
discovered in a secret cavity beneath one of the windows.


The "false floors" to which we have alluded suggests a hiding-place
that was put to very practical use by two old maiden ladies some
years ago at an ancient building near Malvern, Pickersleigh Court.
Each night before retiring to rest some floor-boards of a passage,
originally the entrance to a "priest's hole," were removed. This
passage led to their bedroom, so that they were protected much in
the same way as the fugitive at Compton Winyates, by a yawning
gap. Local tradition does not record how many would-be burglars
were trapped in this way, but it is certain that should anyone
ever have ventured along that passage, they would have been
precipitated with more speed than ceremony into a cellar below.
Pickersleigh, it may be pointed out, is erroneously shown in
connection with the wanderings of Charles II. after the battle

[Footnote 1: See _The Flight of the King._]

Salford Prior Hall (otherwise known as "the Nunnery," or Abbots
Salford), not far from Evesham, is another mansion remarkable
for its picturesqueness as well as for its capacity for hiding.
It not only has its Roman Catholic chapel, but a resident priest
holds services there to this day. Up in the garret is the "priest's
hole," ready, it would seem, for some present emergency, so well
is it concealed and in such perfect working order; and even when
its position is pointed out, nothing is to be seen but the most
innocent-looking of cupboards. By removing a hidden peg, however,
the whole back of it, shelves and all, swings backwards into a
dismal recess some four feet in depth. This deceitful swing door
may be secured on the inside by a stout wooden bolt provided
for that purpose.





[Illustration: SALFORD PRIOR HALL]



Another hiding place as artfully contrived and as little changed
since the day it was manufactured is one at Sawston, the ancestral
seat of the old family of Huddleston. Sawston Hall is a typical
Elizabethan building. The one which preceded it was burnt to the
ground by the adherents of Lady Jane Grey, as the Huddleston
of that day, upon the death of King Edward VI., received his
sister Mary under his protection, and contrived her escape to
Framlingham Castle, where she was carried in disguise, riding
pillion behind a servant.

The secret chamber, as at Harvington, is on the top landing of
the staircase, and the entrance is so cleverly arranged that
it slants into the masonry of a circular tower without showing
the least perceptible sign from the exterior of a space capable
of holding a baby, far less a man. A particular board in the
landing is raised, and beneath it, in a corner of the cavity,
is found a stone slab containing a circular aperture, something
after the manner of our modern urban receptacles for coal. From
this hole a tunnel slants downwards at an angle into the adjacent
wall, where there is an apartment some twelve feet in depth,
and wide enough to contain half a dozen people--that is to say,
not bulky ones, for the circular entrance is far from large.
Blocks of oak fixed upon the inside of the movable floor-board
fit with great nicety into their firm oak sockets in the beams,
which run at right angles and support the landing, so that the
opening is so massive and firm that, unless pointed out, the
particular floor-board could never be detected, and when secured
from the inside would defy a battering-ram.


The Huddlestons, or rather their connections the Thornboroughs,
have an old house at Leyburn, in Yorkshire, named "The Grove,"
which also contained its hiding-place, but unfortunately this is
one of those instances where alterations and modern conveniences
have destroyed what can never be replaced. The priest, Father
John Huddleston (who aided King Charles II. to escape, and who,
it will be remembered, was introduced to that monarch's death-bed
by way of a _secret staircase_ in the palace of Whitehall),
lived in this house some time during the seventeenth century.

One of the most ingenious hiding-places extant is to be seen
at Oxburgh Hall, near Stoke Ferry, the grand old moated mansion
of the ancient Bedingfield family. In solidity and compactness
it is unique. Up in one of the turrets of the entrance gateway
is a tiny closet, the floor of which is composed of brickwork
fixed into a wooden frame. Upon pressure being applied to one
side of this floor, the opposite side heaves up with a groan at
its own weight. Beneath lies a hollow, seven feet square, where
a priest might lie concealed with the gratifying knowledge that,
however the ponderous trap-door be hammered from above, there
would be no tell-tale hollowness as a response. Having bolted
himself in, he might to all intents and purposes be imbedded in
a rock (though truly a toad so situated is not always safe from
intrusion). Three centuries have rolled away and thirteen sovereigns
have reigned since the construction of this hiding-place, but the
mechanism of this masterpiece of ingenuity remains as perfect
as if it had been made yesterday! Those who may be privileged
with permission to inspect the interesting hall will find other
surprises where least expected. An oak-panelled passage upon the
basement of the aforesaid entrance gateway contains a secret
door that gives admittance into the living-rooms in the most
eccentric manner.

A priest's hole beneath the floor of a small oratory adjoining
"the chapel" (now a bedroom) at Borwick Hall, Lancashire, has an
opening devised much in the same fashion as that at Oxburgh. By
leaning his weight upon a certain portion of the boards, a fugitive
could slide into a convenient gap, while the floor would adjust
itself above his head and leave no trace of his where-abouts.


Window-seats not uncommonly formed the entrance to holes beneath
the level of the floor. In the long gallery of Parham Hall, Sussex,
an example of this may be seen. It is not far from "the chapel,"
and the officiating priest in this instance would withdraw a
panel whose position is now occupied by a door; but the entrance
to the hiding-place within the projecting bay of the window is
much the same as it ever was. After the failure of the Babington
conspiracy one Charles Paget was concealed here for some days.

The Tudor house of Tusmore, in Oxfordshire, also had a secret
chamber, approached through a fixed settle in "the parlour" window.
A tradition in the neighbourhood says that the great fish-pond
near the site of the old house was dug by a priest and his servant
in the days of religious persecution, constituting their daily
occupation for twelve years!

Paxhill, in Sussex, the ancient seat of the Bordes, has a priest's
hole behind a window-shutter, and it is large enough to hold several
persons; there is another large hiding-hole in the ceiling of a
room on the ground floor, which is reached through a trap-door
in the floor above. It is provided with a stone bench.

In castles and even ecclesiastical buildings sections of massive
stone columns have been found to rotate and reveal a hole in an
adjacent wall--even an altar has occasionally been put to use
for concealing purposes. At Naworth Castle, for instance, in
"Lord William's Tower," there is an oratory behind the altar, in
which fugitives not only could be hidden but could see anything
that transpired in its vicinity. In Chichester Cathedral there is
a room called Lollards' Prison, which is approached by a sliding
panel in the old consistory-room situated over the south porch.
The manor house of Great Chalfield, in Wiltshire, has a unique
device by which any suspected person could be watched. The eye
of a stone mask in the masonry is hollowed out and through this
a suspicious lord of the manor could, unseen, be a witness to
any treachery on the part of his retainers or guests.

[Illustration: PAXHILL, SUSSEX]


The old moated hall Baddesley Clinton, in Warwickshire, the ancient
seat of the Ferrers, has a stone well or shaft near "the chapel."
There were formerly projections or steps by which a fugitive
could reach a secret passage extending round nearly two sides
of the house to a small water-gate by the moat, where a boat
was kept in readiness. Adjoining the "banqueting-room" on the
east side of the building is a secret chamber six feet square
with a bench all round it. It is now walled up, but the narrow
staircase, behind the wainscoting, leading up to it is unaltered.

Cleeve Prior Manor House, in Worcestershire (though close upon
the border of Warwickshire)) famous for its unique yew avenue,
has a priest's hole, a cramped space five feet by two, in which
it is necessary to lie down. As at Ingatestone, it is below the
floor of a small chamber adjoining the principal bedroom, and
is entered by removing one of the floor-boards.

Wollas Hall, an Elizabethan mansion on Bredon Hill, near Pershore
(held uninterruptedly by the Hanford family since the sixteenth
century), has a chapel in the upper part of the house, and a
secret chamber, or priest's hole, provided with a diminutive
fire-place. When the officiating priest was about to celebrate
Mass, it was the custom here to spread linen upon the hedges as
a sign to those in the adjacent villages who wished to attend.

A hiding-place at Treago, Herefordshire (an unique specimen of
a thirteenth-century fortified mansion) inhabited by the Mynor
family for more than four hundred years), has quite luxurious
accommodation--a sleeping-place and a reading-desk. It is called
"Pope's Hole." The walls on the south-east side of the house are
of immense thickness, and there are many indications of secret
passages within them.


Some fifty years ago a hiding-hole was opened in a chimney adjoining
"the chapel" of Lydiate Hall, Lancashire; and since then one
was discovered behind the rafters of the roof. Another ancient
house close by contained a priest's hole where were found some
religious books and an old carved oak chair.

Myddleton Lodge, near Ilkley, had a secret chapel in the roof,
which is now divided up into several apartments. In the grounds
is to be seen a curious maze of thickly planted evergreens in
the shape of a cross. From the fact that at one end remain three
wooden crosses, there is but little doubt that at the time of
religious persecution the privacy of the maze was used for secret

When Slindon House, Sussex, was undergoing some restorations, a
"priest's hole" communicating with the roof was discovered. It
contained some ancient devotional books, and against the walls
were hung stout leathern straps, by which a person could let
himself down.

The internal arrangements at Plowden Hall, Shropshire, give one
a good idea of the feeling of insecurity that must have been
so prevalent in those "good old days." Running from the top of
the house there is in the thickness of the wall, a concealed
circular shoot about a couple of feet in diameter, through which
a person could lower himself, if necessary, to the ground floor
by the aid of a rope. Here also, beneath the floor-boards of a
cupboard in one of the bedrooms, is a concealed chamber with a
fixed shelf, presumably provided to act as a sort of table for
the unfortunate individual who was forced to occupy the narrow
limits of the room. Years before this hiding-place was opened
to the light of day (in the course of some alterations to the
house), its existence and actual position was well known; still,
strange to say, the way into it had never been discovered.



When the Civil War was raging, many a defeated cavalier owed
his preservation to the "priests' holes" and secret chambers
of the old Roman Catholic houses all over the country. Did not
Charles II. himself owe his life to the conveniences offered
at Boscobel, Moseley, Trent, and Heale? We have elsewhere[1]
gone minutely into the young king's hair-breadth adventures;
but the story is so closely connected with the present subject
that we must record something of his sojourn at these four old
houses, as from an historical point of view they are of exceptional
interest, if one but considers how the order of things would have
been changed had either of these hiding-places been discovered
at the time "his Sacred Majesty" occupied them. It is vain to
speculate upon the probabilities; still, there is no ignoring
the fact that had Charles been captured he would have shared
the fate of his father.

[Footnote 1: See _The Flight of the King_.]





[Illustration: BOSCOBEL, SALOP]



[Illustration: TRENT HOUSE IN 1864]


After the defeat of Wigan, the gallant Earl of Derby sought refuge
at the isolated, wood-surrounded hunting-lodge of Boscobel, and
after remaining there concealed for two days, proceeded to Gatacre
Park, now rebuilt, but then and for long after famous for its
secret chambers. Here he remained hidden prior to the disastrous
battle of Worcester.

Upon the close of that eventful third of September, 1651, the
Earl, at the time that the King and his advisers knew not which
way to turn for safety, recounted his recent experiences, and
called attention to the loyalty of the brothers Penderel. It
was speedily resolved, therefore, to hasten northwards towards
Brewood Forest, upon the borders of Staffordshire and Salop.
"As soon as I was disguised," says Charles, "I took with me a
country fellow whose name was Richard Penderell.... He was a
Roman Catholic, and I chose to trust them [the Penderells] because
I knew they had hiding-holes for priests that I thought I might
make use of in case of need." Before taking up his quarters in
the house, however, the idea of escaping into Wales occured to
Charles, so, when night set in, he quitted Boscobel Wood, where
he had been hidden all the day, and started on foot with his
rustic guide in a westerly direction with the object of getting
over the river Severn, but various hardships and obstacles induced
Penderel to suggest a halt at a house at Madeley, near the river,
where they might rest during the day and continue the journey
under cover of darkness on the following night; the house further
had the attraction of "priests' holes." "We continued our way on
to the village upon the Severn," resumes the King, "where the
fellow told me there was an honest gentleman, one Mr. Woolfe,
that lived in that town, where I might be with great safety, for
he had hiding-holes for priests.... So I came into the house a
back way, where I found Mr. Woolfe, an old gentleman, who told me
he was very sorry to see me there, because there was two companies
of the militia foot at that time in arms in the town, and kept a
guard at the ferry, to examine everybody that came that way in
expectation of catching some that might be making their escape
that way; and that he durst not put me into any of the hiding-holes
of his house, because they had been discovered, and consequently,
if any search should be made, they would certainly repair to
these holes, and that therefore I had no other way of security
but to go into his barn and there lie behind his corn and hay."



[Illustration: MADELEY COURT]


The Madeley "priest's hole" which was considered unsafe is still
extant. It is in one of the attics of "the Upper House," but
the entrance is now very palpable. Those who are curious enough
to climb up into this black hole will discover a rude wooden
bench within it--a luxury compared with some hiding-places!

The river Severn being strictly guarded everywhere, Charles and
his companions retraced their steps the next night towards Boscobel.

After a day spent up in the branches of the famous _Royal Oak_,
the fugitive monarch made his resting-place the secret chamber
behind the wainscoting of what is called "the Squire's Bedroom."
There is another hiding-place, however, hard by in a garret which
may have been the one selected. The latter lies beneath the floor
of this garret, or "Popish chapel," as it was once termed. At the
top of a flight of steps leading to it is a small trap-door, and
when this is removed a step-ladder may be seen leading down into
the recess.[1] The other place behind the wainscot is situated
in a chimney stack and is more roomy in its proportions. Here
again is an inner hiding-place, entered through a trap-door in
the floor, with a narrow staircase leading to an exit in the
basement. So much for Boscobel.

[Footnote 1: The hiding-place in the garret measures about 5 feet
2 inches in depth by 3-1/2 or 4-1/2 feet in width.]

Moseley Hall is thus referred to by the King: "I... sent Penderell's
brother to Mr. Pitchcroft's [Whitgreaves] to know whether my
Lord Wilmot was there or no, and had word brought me by him at
night that my lord was there, that there was a _very secure
hiding-hole_ in Mr. Pitchcroft's house, and that he desired
me to come thither to him."

It was while at Moseley the King had a very narrow escape. A
search-party arrived on the scene and demanded admittance. Charles's
host himself gives the account of this adventure: "In the afternoon
[the King] reposing himself on his bed in the parlour chamber
and inclineing to sleep, as I was watching at the window, one of
the neighbours I saw come running in, who told the maid soldiers
were comeing to search, who thereupon presentlie came running to
the staires head, and cried, 'Soldiers, soldiers are coming,'
which his majestie hearing presentlie started out of his bedd and
run to _his privacie, where I secured him the best I could_,
and then leaving him, went forth into the street to meet the
soldiers who were comeing to search, who as soon as they saw
and knew who I was were readie to pull mee to pieces, and take
me away with them, saying I was come from the Worcester fight;
but after much dispute with them, and by the neighbours being
informed of their false information that I was not there, being
very ill a great while, they let mee goe; but till I saw them
clearly all gone forth of the town I returned not; but as soon
as they were, I returned to release him and did acquaint him
with my stay, which hee thought long, and then hee began to bee
very chearful again.

In the interim, whilst I was disputing with the soldiers, one
of them called Southall came in the ffould and asked a smith,
as hee was shooing horses there, if he could tell where the King
was, and he should have "a thousand pounds for his payns...."
This Southall was a great priest-catcher.


The hiding-place is located beneath the floor of a cupboard,
adjoining the quaint old panelled bedroom the King occupied while
he was at Moseley. Even "the merry monarch" must have felt depressed
in such a dismal hole as this, and we can picture his anxious
expression, as he sat upon the rude seat of brick which occupies
one end of it, awaiting the result of the sudden alarm. The cupboard
orginally was screened with wainscoting, a panel of which could
be opened and closed by a spring. Family tradition also says
there was a outlet from the hiding-place in a brew-house chimney.
Situated in a gable end of the building, near the old chapel,
in a garret, there is another "priest's hole" large enough only
to admit of a person lying down full length.

Before the old seat of the Whitgreaves was restored some fifteen
or twenty years ago it was one of the most picturesque half-timber
houses, not only in Staffordshire, but in England. It had remained
practically untouched since the day above alluded to (September
9th, 1651).

Before reaching Trent, in Somersetshire, the much sought-for king
had many hardships to undergo and many strange experiences. We
must, however, confine our remarks to those of the old buildings
which offered him an asylum that could boast a hiding-place.

Trent House was one of these. The very fact that it originally
belonged to the recusant Gerard family is sufficient evidence.
From the Gerards it passed by marriage to the Wyndhams, who were
in residence in the year we speak of. That his Majesty spent much
of his time in the actual hiding-place at Trent is very doubtful.
Altogether he was safely housed here for over a fortnight, and
during that time doubtless occasional alarms drove him, as at
Moseley, into his sanctuary; but a secluded room was set apart
for his use, where he had ample space to move about, and from
which he could reach his hiding-place at a moment's notice. The
black oak panelling and beams of this cosy apartment, with its
deep window recesses, readily carries the mind back to the time
when its royal inmate wiled away the weary hours by cooking his
meals and amusing himself as best he could--indeed a hardship
for one, such as he, so fond of outdoor exercise.

Close to the fireplace are two small, square secret panels, at one
time used for the secretion of sacred books or vessels, valuables
or compromising deeds, but pointed out to visitors as a kind of
buttery hatch through which Charles II. received his food. The
King by day, also according to local tradition, is said to have
kept up communication with his friends in the house by means
of a string suspended in the kitchen chimney. That apartment is
immediately beneath, and has a fireplace of huge dimensions.
An old Tudor doorway leading into this part of the house is said
to have been screened from observation by a load of hay.

Now for the hiding-place. Between this and "my Lady Wyndham's
chamber" (the aforesaid panelled room that was kept exclusively
for Charles's use) was a small ante-room, long since demolished,
its position being now occupied by a rudely constructed staircase,
from the landing of which the hiding-place is now entered. The
small secret apartment is approached through a triangular hole
in the wall, something after the fashion of that at Ufton Court;
but when one has squeezed through this aperture he will find
plenty of room to stretch his limbs. The hole, which was close
up against the rafters of the roof of the staircase landing,
when viewed from the inside of the apartment, is situated at the
base of a blocked-up stone Tudor doorway. Beneath the boards of
the floor--as at Boscobel and Moseley--is an inner hiding-place,
from which it was formerly possible to find an exit through the
brew-house chimney.

It was from Trent House that Charles visited the Dorsetshire
coast in the hopes of getting clear of England; but a complication
of misadventures induced him to hasten back with all speed to
the pretty little village of Trent, to seek once, more shelter
beneath the roof of the Royalist Colonel Wyndham.

To resume the King's account:--

"As soon as we came to Frank Windham's I sent away presently to
Colonel Robert Philips [Phelips], who lived then at Salisbury, to
see what he could do for the getting me a ship; which he undertook
very willingly, and had got one at Southampton, but by misfortune
she was amongst others prest to transport their soldiers to Jersey,
by which she failed us also.

"Upon this, I sent further into Sussex, where Robin Philips knew
one Colonel Gunter, to see whether he could hire a ship anywhere
upon that coast. And not thinking it convenient for me to stay
much longer at Frank Windham's (where I had been in all about a
fortnight, and was become known to very many), I went directly
away to a widow gentlewoman's house, one Mrs. Hyde, some four
or five miles from Salisbury, where I came into the house just
as it was almost dark, with Robin Philips only, not intending
at first to make myself known. But just as I alighted at the
door, Mrs. Hyde knew me, though she had never seen me but once
in her life, and that was with the king, my father, in the army,
when we marched by Salisbury some years before, in the time of
the war; but she, being a discreet woman, took no notice at that
time of me, I passing only for a friend of Robin Philips', by
whose advice I went thither.

"At supper there was with us Frederick Hyde, since a judge, and
his sister-in-law, a widow, Robin Philips, myself, and Dr. Henshaw
[Henchman], since Bishop of London, whom I had appointed to meet
me there.

"While we were at slipper, I observed Mrs. Hyde and her brother
Frederick to look a little earnestly at me, which led me to believe
they might know me. But I was not at all startled by it, it having
been my purpose to let her know who I was; and, accordingly,
after supper Mrs. Hyde came to me, and I discovered myself to
her, who told me she had a very safe place to hide me in, till
we knew whether our ship was ready or no. But she said it was
not safe for her to trust anybody but herself and her sister,
and therefore advised me to take my horse next morning and make
as if I quitted the house, and return again about night; for she
would order it so that all her servants and everybody should
be out of the house but herself and her sister, whose name I
remember not.

"So Robin Philips and I took our horses and went as far as
Stonehenge; and there we staid looking upon the stones for some
time, and returned back again to Hale [Heale] (the place where
Mrs. Hyde lived) about the hour she appointed; where I went up
into the hiding-hole, that was very convenient and safe, and
staid there all alone (Robin Philips then going away to Salisbury)
some four or five days."

Both exterior and interior of Heale House as it stands to-day
point to a later date than 1651, though there are here and there
vestiges of architecture anterior to the middle of the seventeenth
century; the hiding-place, however, is not among these, and looks
nothing beyond a very deep cupboard adjoining one of the bedrooms,
with nothing peculiar to distinguish it from ordinary cupboards.

But for all its modern innovations there is something about Heale
which suggests a house with a history. Whether it is its environment
of winding river and ancient cedar-trees, its venerable stables
and imposing entrance gate, or the fact that it is one of those
distinguished houses that have saved the life of an English king,
we will not undertake to fathom.



An old mansion in the precincts of the cathedral at Salisbury is
said to have been a favourite hiding-place for fugitive cavaliers
at the time of the Civil War. There is an inn immediately opposite
this house, just outside the close, where the landlord (formerly a
servant to the family who lived in the mansion) during the troublous
times acted as a secret agent for those who were concealed, and
proved invaluable by conveying messages and in other ways aiding
those Royalists whose lives were in danger.


There are still certain "priests' holes" in the house, but the most
interesting hiding-place is situated in the most innocent-looking
of summer-houses in the grounds. The interior of this little
structure is wainscoted round with large panels like most of
the summer-houses, pavilions, or music-rooms of the seventeenth
century, and nothing uncommon or mysterious was discovered until
some twenty-five years ago. By the merest accident one of the
panels was found to open, revealing what appeared to be an ordinary
cupboard with shelves. Further investigations, however, proved
its real object. By sliding one of the shelves out of the grooves
into which it is fixed, a very narrow, disguised door, a little
over a foot in width, in the side of the cupboard and in the
thickness of the wall can be opened. This again reveals a narrow
passage, or staircase, leading up to the joists above the ceiling,
and thence to a recess situated immediately behind the carved
ornamental facing over the entrance door of the summer-house.
In this there is a narrow chink or peep-hole, from which the
fugitive could keep on the look-out either for danger or for the
friendly Royalist agent of the "King's Arms."

When it was first discovered there were evidences of its last
occupant--_viz._ a Jacobean horn tumbler, a mattress, and a
handsomely worked velvet pillow; the last two articles, provided
no doubt for the comfort of some hunted cavalier, upon being
handled, fell to pieces. It may be mentioned that the inner door
of the cupboard can be securely fastened from the inside by an
iron hook and staple for that purpose.

Hewitt, mine host of the "King's Arms," was not idle at the time
transactions were in progress to transfer Charles II. from Trent
to Heale, and received within his house Lord Wilmot, Colonel
Phelips, and other of the King's friends who were actively engaged
in making preparations for the memorable journey. This old inn,
with its oak-panelled rooms and rambling corridors, makes a very
suitable neighbour to the more dignified old brick mansion opposite,
with which it is so closely associated.



Many are the exciting stories related of the defeated Royalists,
especially after the Worcester fight. One of them, Lord Talbot,
hastened to his paternal home of Longford, near Newport (Salop),
and had just time to conceal himself ere his pursuers arrived,
who, finding his horse saddled, concluded that the rider could
not be far off. They therefore searched the house minutely for
four or five days, and the fugitive would have perished for want
of food, had not one of the servants contrived, at great personal
risk, to pay him nocturnal visits and supply him with nourishment.

The grey old Jacobean mansion Chastleton preserves in its
oak-panelled hall the sword and portrait of the gallant cavalier
Captain Arthur Jones, who, narrowly escaping from the battlefield,
speeded homewards with some of Cromwell's soldiers at his heels;
and his wife, a lady of great courage, had scarcely concealed
him in the secret chamber when the enemy arrived to search the

Little daunted, the lady, with great presence of mind, made no
objection whatever--indeed, facilitated their operations by
personally conducting them over the mansion. Here, as in so many
other instances, the secret room was entered from the principal
bedroom, and in inspecting the latter the suspicion of the Roundheads
was in some way or another aroused, so here they determined to
remain for the rest of the night.

An ample supper and a good store of wine (which, by the way, had
been carefully drugged) was sent up to the unwelcome visitors,
and in due course the drink effected its purpose--its victims
dropped off one by one, until the whole party lay like logs upon
the floor. Mrs. Arthur Jones then crept in, having even to step
over the bodies of the inanimate Roundheads, released her husband,
and a fresh horse being in readiness, by the time the effects
of the wine had worn off the Royalist captain was far beyond
their reach.

The secret room is located in the front of the building, and has
now been converted into a very, comfortable little dressing-room,
preserving its original oak panelling, and otherwise but little
altered, with the exception of the entry to it, which is now
an ordinary door.

Chastleton is the beau ideal of an ancestral hall. The grand
old gabled house, with its lofty square towers, its Jacobean
entrance gateway and dovecote, and the fantastically clipped
box-trees and sun-dial of its quaint old-fashioned garden, possesses
a charm which few other ancient mansions can boast, and this
charm lies in its perfectly unaltered state throughout, even
to the minutest detail. Interior and exterior alike, everything
presents an appearance exactly as it did when it was erected
and furnished by Walter Jones, Esquire, between the years 1603
and 1630. The estate originally was held by Robert Catesby, who
sold the house to provide funds for carrying on the notorious

Among its most valued relics is a Bible given by Charles I. when
on the scaffold to Bishop Juxon, who lived at Little Compton manor
house, near Chastleton. This Bible was always used by the bishop
at the Divine services, which at one time were held in the great
hall of the latter house. Other relics of the martyr-king used
to be at Little Compton--_viz._ some beams of the Whitehall
scaffold, whose exact position has occasioned so much controversy.
The velvet armchair and footstool used by the King during his
memorable trial were also preserved here, but of late years have
found a home at Moreton-in-the-Marsh, some six miles away. Visitors
to that interesting collection shown in London some years ago--the
Stuart Exhibition--may remember this venerable armchair of such
sad association.

[Illustration: CHASTLETON]


It may be here stated that after Charles I.'s execution, Juxon
lived for a time in Sussex at an old mansion still extant, Albourne
Place, not far from Hurstpierpoint. We mention this from the
fact that a priest's hole was discovered there some few years
ago. It was found in opening a communication between two rooms,
and originally it could only be reached by steps projecting from
the inner walls of a chimney.

Not many miles from Albourne stands Street Place, an Elizabethan
Sussex house of some note. A remarkable story of cavalier-hunting
is told here. A hiding-place is said to have existed in the wide
open fireplace of the great hall. Tradition has it that a horseman,
hard pressed by the Parliamentary troopers, galloped into this
hall, but upon the arrival of his pursuers, no clue could be
found of either man or horse!

The gallant Prince Rupert himself, upon one occasion, is said
to have had recourse to a hiding hole, at least so the story
runs, at the beautiful old black-and-white timber mansion, Park
Hall, near Oswestry. A certain "false floor" which led to it is
pointed out in a cupboard of a bedroom, the hiding-place itself
being situated immediately above the dining-room fireplace.

A concealed chamber something after the same description is to
be seen at the old seat of the Fenwicks, Wallington, in
Northumberland--a small room eight feet long by sixteen feet high,
situated at the back of the dining-room fireplace, and approached
through the back of a cupboard.

Behind one of the large panels of "the hall" of an old building
in Warwick called St. John's Hospital is a hiding-place, and in
a bedroom of the same house there is a little apartment, now
converted into a dressing-room, which formerly could only be
reached through a sliding panel over the fireplace.

The manor house of Dinsdale-on-Tees, Durham, has another example,
but to reach it it is necessary to pass through a trap-door in
the attics, crawl along under the roof, and drop down into the,
space in the wall behind a bedroom fireplace, where for extra
security there is a second trap-door.



Full-length panel portraits of the Salwey family at Stanford Court,
Worcestershire (unfortunately burned down in 1882), concealed hidden
recesses and screened passages leading up to an exit in the leads
of the roof. In one of these recesses curious seventeenth-century
manuscripts were found, among them, the household book of a certain
"Joyce Jeffereys" during the Civil War.

The old Jacobean mansion Broughton Hall, Staffordshire, had a
curious hiding-hole over a fireplace and situated in the wall
between the dining-room and the great hall; over its entrance
used to hang a portrait of a man in antique costume which went
by the name of "Red Stockings."

At Lyme Hall, Cheshire, the ancient seat of the Leghs, high up
in the wall of the hall is a sombre portrait which by ingenious
mechanism swings out of its frame, a fixture, and gives admittance
to a room on the first floor, or rather affords a means of looking
down into the hall.[1] We mention this portrait more especially
because it has been supposed that Scott got his idea here of
the ghostly picture which figures in _Woodstock_. A
_bonâ-fide_ hiding-place, however, is to be seen in another
part of the mansion in a very haunted-looking bedroom called "the
Knight's Chamber," entered through a trap-door in the floor of
a cupboard, with a short flight of steps leading into it.

[Footnote 1: A large panel in the long gallery of Hatfield can be
pushed aside, giving a view into the great hall, and at Ockwells
and other ancient mansions this device may also be seen.]

Referring to Scott's novel, a word may be said about Fair Rosamond's
famous "bower" at the old palace of Woodstock, surely the most
elaborate and complicated hiding-place ever devised. The ruins
of the labyrinth leading to the "bower" existed in Drayton's
time, who described them as "vaults, arched and walled with stone
and brick, almost inextricably wound within one another, by which,
if at any time her [Rosamond's] lodging were laid about by the
Queen, she might easily avoid peril imminent, and, if need be, by
secret issues take the air abroad many furlongs about Woodstock."


In a survey taken in 1660, it is stated that foundation signs
remained about a bow-shot southwest of the gate: "_The form
and circuit both of the place and ruins show it to have been a
house of one pile, and probably was filled with secret places
of recess and avenues to hide or convey away such persons as
were not willing to be found if narrowly sought after._"

Ghostly gambols, such as those actually practised upon the
Parliamentary Commissioners at the old palace of Woodstock, were
for years carried on without detection by the servants at the old
house of Hinton-Ampner, Hampshire; and when it was pulled down
in the year 1797, it became very obvious how the mysteries, which
gave the house the reputation of being haunted, were managed,
for numerous secret stairs and passages, not known to exist were
brought to light which had offered peculiar facilities for the
deception. About the middle of the eighteenth century the mansion
passed out of the hands of its old possessors, the Stewkeleys,
and shortly afterwards became notorious for the unaccountable
noises which disturbed the peace of mind of the new tenants.
Not only were there violent knocks, hammerings, groanings, and
sounds of footsteps in the ceilings and walls, out strange sights
frightened the servants out of their wits. A ghostly visitant
dressed in drab would appear and disappear mysteriously, a female
figure was often seen to rush through the apartments, and other
supernatural occurrences at length became so intolerable that the
inmates of the house sought refuge in flight. Later successive
tenants fared the same. A hundred pounds reward was offered to
any who should run the ghosts to earth; but nothing resulted
from it, and after thirty years or more of hauntings, the house
was razed to the ground. Secret passages and chambers were then
brought to light; but those who had carried on the deception
for so long took the secret with them to their graves.[1]

[Footnote 1: A full account of the supernatural occurrences at
Hinton-Ampner will be found in the Life of Richard Barham.]

It is well known that the huge, carved oak bedsteads of the sixteenth
and seventeenth centuries were often provided with secret
accommodation for valuables. One particular instance we can call
to mind of a hidden cupboard at the base of the bedpost which
contained a short rapier. But of these small hiding-places we
shall speak presently. It is with the head of the bed we have
now to do, as it was sometimes used as an opening into the wall
at the back. Occasionally, in old houses, unmeaning gaps and
spaces are met with in the upper rooms midway between floor and
ceiling, which possibly at one time were used as bed-head
hiding-places. Shipton Court, Oxon, and Hill Hall, Essex, may
be given as examples. Dunster Castle, Somersetshire, also, has
at the back of a bedstead in one of the rooms a long, narrow
place of concealment, extending the width of the apartment, and
provided with a stone seat.

Sir Ralph Verney, while in exile in France in 1645, wrote to his
brother at Claydon House, Buckinghamshire, concerning "the odd
things in the room my mother kept herself--_the iron chest in
the little room between her bed's-head and the back stairs._"
This old seat of the Verneys had another secret chamber in the
middle storey, entered through a trap-door in "the muniment-room"
at the top of the house. Here also was a small private staircase
in the wall, possibly the "back stairs" mentioned in Sir Ralph's

[Footnote 1: See _Memoirs of the Verney Family._]



Before the breaking out of the Civil War, Hampden, Pym, Lord
Brooke, and other of the Parliamentary leaders, held secret meetings
at Broughton Castle, oxon, the seat of Lord Saye and Sele, to
organise a resistance to the arbitrary measures of the king. In
this beautiful old fortified and moated mansion the secret stairs
may yet be seen that led up to the little isolated chamber, with
massive casemated walls for the exclusion of sound. Anthony Wood,
alluding to the secret councils, says: "Several years before the
Civil War began, Lord Saye, being looked upon as the godfather
of that party, had meetings of them in his house at Broughton,
where was a room and passage thereunto which his servants were
prohibited to come near."[1] There is also a hiding-hole behind
a window shutter in the wall of a corridor, with an air-hole
ingeniously devised in the masonry.

[Footnote 1: _Memorials of Hampden._]

The old dower-house of Fawsley, not many miles to the north-east
of Broughton, in the adjoining county of Northamptonshire, had
a secret room over the hall, where a private press was kept for
the purpose of printing political tracts at this time, when the
country was working up into a state of turmoil.

When the regicides were being hunted out in the early part of
Charles II.'s reign, Judge Mayne[1] secreted himself at his house,
Dinton Hall, Bucks, but eventually gave himself up. The hiding-hole
at Dinton was beneath the staircase, and accessible by removing
three of the steps. A narrow passage which led from it to a space
behind the beams of the roof had its sides or walls thickly lined
with cloth, so as to muffle all sound.

[Footnote 1: There is a tradition that it was a servant of Mayne
who acted as Charles I.'s executioner.]

Bradshawe Hall, in north-west Derbyshire (once the seat of the
family of that name of which the notorious President was a member),
has or had a concealed chamber high up in the wall of a room on
the ground floor which was capable of holding three persons.
Of course tradition says the "wicked judge was hidden here."


The regicides Colonels Whalley and Goffe had many narrow escapes
in America, whither they were traced. What is known as "Judge's
Cave," in the West Rock some two miles from the town of New Haven,
Conn., afforded them sanctuary. For some days they were concealed
in an old house belonging to a certain Mrs. Eyers, in a secret
chamber behind the wainscoting, the entrance to which was most
ingeniously devised. The house was narrowly searched on May 14th,
1661, at the time they were in hiding.[1]

[Footnote 1: Stiles's _Judges_, p. 64]

Upon the discovery of the Rye House Plot in 1683, suspicion falling
upon one of the conspirators, William, third Lord Howard of Escrick,
the Sergeant-at-Arms was despatched with a squadron of horse to
his house at Knights-bridge, and after a long search he was
discovered concealed in a hiding-place constructed in a chimney
at the back of a tall cupboard, and the chances are that he would
not have been arrested had it not been evident, by the warmth of
his bed and his clothes scattered about, that he had only just
risen and could not have got away unobserved, except to some
concealed lurking-place. When discovered he had on no clothing
beyond his shirt, so it may be imagined with what precipitate
haste he had to hide himself upon the unexpected arrival of the

[Footnote 1: See Roger North's _Examen_.]

Numerous other houses were searched for arms and suspicious papers,
particularly in the counties of Cheshire and Lancashire, where
the Duke of Monmouth was known to have many influential friends,
marked enemies to the throne.[2]

[Footnote 2: See Oulton Hall MSS., Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. iii. p.

Monmouth's lurking-place was known at Whitehall, and those who
revealed it went the wrong way to work to win Court favour. Apart
from the attractions of Lady Wentworth, whose companionship made
the fugitive's enforced seclusion at Toddington, in Bedfordshire,
far from tedious, the mansion was desirable at that particular
time on account of its hiding facilities. An anonymous letter
sent to the Secretary of State failed not to point out "that
vastness and intricacy that without a most diligent search it's
impossible to discover _all the lurking holes in it, there being
severall trap dores on the leads and in closetts, into places to
which there is no other access._"[1] The easy-going king had
to make some external show towards an attempt to capture his
erring son, therefore instructions were given with this purpose,
but to a courtier and diplomatist who valued his own interests.
Toddington Place, therefore, was _not_ explored.

[Footnote 1: Vide King _Monmouth_.]



Few hiding-places are associated with so tragic a story as that
at Moyles Court, Hants, where the venerable Lady Alice Lisle,
in pure charity, hid two partisans of Monmouth, John Hickes and
Richard Nelthorpe, after the battle of Sedgemoor, for which humane
action she was condemned to be burned alive by Judge Jeffreys--a
sentence commuted afterwards to beheading. It is difficult to
associate this peaceful old Jacobean mansion, and the simple
tomb in the churchyard hard by, with so terrible a history. A
dark hole in the wall of the kitchen is traditionally said to be
the place of concealment of the fugitives, who threw themselves
on Lady Alice's mercy; but a dungeon-like cellar not unlike that
represented in E. M. Ward's well-known picture looks a much more
likely place.

It was in an underground vault at Lady Place, Hurley, the old
seat of the Lovelaces, that secret conferences were held by the
adherents of the Prince of Orange. Three years after the execution
of the Duke of Monmouth, his boon companion and supporter, John,
third Lord Lovelace, organised treasonable meetings in this tomb-like
chamber. Tradition asserts that certain important documents in
favour of the Revolution were actually signed in the Hurley vault.
Be this as it may, King William III. failed not, in after years,
when visiting his former secret agent, to inspect the subterranean
apartment with very tender regard.



We have spoken of the old houses associated with Charles II.'s
escapes, let us see what history has to record of his unpopular
brother James. The Stuarts seem to have been doomed, at one time
or another, to evade their enemies by secret flight, and in some
measure this may account for the romance always surrounding that
ill-fated line of kings and queens.

James V. of Scotland was wont to amuse himself by donning a disguise,
but his successors appear to have been doomed by fate to follow
his example, not for recreation, but to preserve their lives.

Mary, Queen of Scots, upon one occasion had to impersonate a
laundress. Her grandson and great-grandson both were forced to
masquerade as servants, and her great-great-grandson Prince James
Frederick Edward passed through France disguised as an abbé.

The escapades of his son the "Bonnie Prince" will require our
attention presently; we will, therefore, for the moment confine
our thoughts to James II.

With the surrender of Oxford the young Prince James found himself
Fairfax's prisoner. His elder brother Charles had been more
fortunate, having left the city shortly before for the western
counties, and after effecting his escape to Scilly, he sought
refuge in Jersey, whence he removed to the Hague. The Duke of
Gloucester and the Princess Elizabeth already had been placed
under the custody of the Earl of Northumberland at St. James's
Palace, so the Duke of York was sent there also. This was in 1646.
Some nine months elapsed, and James, after two ineffectual attempts
to regain his liberty, eventually succeeded in the following

Though prisoners, the royal children were permitted to amuse
themselves within the walls of the palace much as they pleased,
and among the juvenile games with which they passed away the
time, "hide-and-seek" was first favourite. James, doubtless with
an eye to the future, soon acquired a reputation as an expert
hider, and his brother and sister and the playmates with whom
they associated would frequently search the odd nooks and corners
of the old mansion in vain for an hour at a stretch. It was,
therefore, no extraordinary occurrence on the night of April 20th,
1647, that the Prince, after a prolonged search, was missing. The
youngsters, more than usually perplexed, presently persuaded the
adults of the prison establishment to join in the game, which,
when their suspicions were aroused, they did in real earnest.
But all in vain, and at length a messenger was despatched to
Whitehall with the intelligence that James, Duke of York, had
effected his escape. Everything was in a turmoil. Orders were
hurriedly dispatched for all seaport towns to be on the alert,
and every exit out of London was strictly watched; meanwhile,
it is scarcely necessary to add, the young fugitive was well
clear of the city, speeding on his way to the Continent.

The plot had been skilfully planned. A key, or rather a duplicate
key, had given admittance through the gardens into St. James's Park,
where the Royalist, though outwardly professed Parliamentarian,
Colonel Bamfield was in readiness with a periwig and cloak to
effect a speedy disguise. When at length the fugitive made his
appearance, minus his shoes and coat, he was hurried into a coach
and conveyed to the Strand by Salisbury House, where the two
alighted, and passing down Ivy Lane, reached the river, and after
James's disguise had been perfected, boat was taken to Lyon Quay
in Lower Thames Street, where a barge lay in readiness to carry
them down stream.

So far all went well, but on the way to Gravesend the master
of the vessel, doubtless with a view to increasing his reward,
raised some objections. The fugitive was now in female attire,
and the objection was that nothing had been said about a woman
coming aboard; but he was at length pacified, indeed ere long
guessed the truth, for the Prince's lack of female decorum, as
in the case of his grandson "the Bonnie Prince" nearly a century
afterwards, made him guess how matters really stood. Beyond Gravesend
the fugitives got aboard a Dutch vessel and were carried safely
to Middleburg.

We will now shift the scene to Whitehall in the year 1688, when,
after a brief reign of three years, betrayed and deserted on
all sides, the unhappy Stuart king was contemplating his second
flight out of England. The weather-cock that had been set up on
the banqueting hall to show when the wind "blew Protestant" had
duly recorded the dreaded approach of Dutch William, who now was
steadily advancing towards the capital. On Tuesday, December 10th,
soon after midnight, James left the Palace by way of Chiffinch's
secret stairs of notorious fame, and disguised as the servant
of Sir Edward Hales, with Ralph Sheldon--La Badie--a page, and
Dick Smith, a groom, attending him, crossed the river to Lambeth,
dropping the great seal in the water on the way, and took horse,
avoiding the main roads, towards Farnborough and thence to
Chislehurst. Leaving Maidstone to the south-west, a brief halt
was made at Pennenden Heath for refreshment. The old inn, "the
Woolpack," where the party stopped for their hurried repast,
remains, at least in name, for the building itself has of late
years been replaced by a modern structure. Crossing the Dover
road, the party now directed their course towards Milton Creek,
to the north-east of Sittingbourne, where a small fishing-craft
lay in readiness, which had been chartered by Sir Edward Hales,
whose seat at Tunstall[1] was close by.

[Footnote 1: The principal seat of the Hales, near Canterbury, is
now occupied as a Jesuit College. The old manor house of Tunstall,
Grove End Farm, presents both externally and internally many
features of interest. The family was last represented by a maid
lady who died a few years since.]

One or two old buildings in the desolate marsh district of Elmley,
claim the distinction of having received a visit of the deposed
monarch prior to the mishaps which were shortly to follow. King's
Hill Farm, once a house of some importance, preserves this tradition,
as does also an ancient cottage, in the last stage of decay,
known as "Rats' Castle."

[Illustration: "RATS' CASTLE," ELMLEY, KENT]


At Elmley Ferry, which crosses the river Swale, the king got
aboard, but scarcely had the moorings been cast than further
progress was arrested by a party of over-zealous fishermen on
the look out for fugitive Jesuit priests. The story of the rough
handling to which the poor king was subjected is a somewhat hackneyed
school-book anecdote, but some interesting details have been handed
down by one Captain Marsh, by James's natural son the Duke of
Berwick, and by the Earl of Ailesbury.

From these accounts we gather that in the disturbance that ensued
a blow was aimed at the King, but that a Canterbury innkeeper named
Platt threw himself in the way and received the blow himself. It
is recorded, to James II.'s credit, that when he was recognised
and his stolen money and jewels offered back to him, he declined
the former, desiring that his health might be drunk by the mob.
Among the valuables were the King's watch, his coronation ring,
and medals commemorating the births of his son the Chevalier
St. George and of his brother Charles II.

The King was taken ashore at a spot called "the Stool," close
to the little village of Oare, to the north-west of Faversham,
to which town he was conveyed by coach, attended by a score of
Kentish gentlemen on horseback. The royal prisoner was first
carried to the "Queen's Arms Inn," which still exists under the
name of the "Ship Hotel." From here he was taken to the mayor's
house in Court Street (an old building recently pulled down to
make way for a new brewery) and placed under a strict guard, and
from the window of his prison the unfortunate King had to listen
to the proclamation of the Prince of Orange, read by order of the
mayor, who subsequently was rewarded for the zeal he displayed
upon the occasion.

The hardships of the last twenty-four hours had told severely upon
James. He was sick and feeble and weakened by profuse bleeding
of the nose, to which he, like his brother Charles, was subject
when unduly excited. Sir Edward Hales, in the meantime, was lodged
in the old Court Hall (since partially rebuilt), whence he was
removed to Maidstone gaol, and to the Tower.

Bishop Burnet was at Windsor with the Prince of Orange when two
gentlemen arrived there from Faversham with the news of the King's
capture. "They told me," he says, "of the accident at Faversham,
and desired to know the Prince's pleasure upon it. I was affected
with this dismal reverse of the fortunes of a great prince, more
than I think fit to express. I went immediately to Bentinck and
wakened him, and got him to go in to the Prince, and let him
know what had happened, that some order might be presently given
for the security of the King's person, and for taking him out
of the hands of a rude multitude who said they would obey no
orders but such as came from the Prince."

Upon receiving the news, William at once directed that his
father-in-law should have his liberty, and that assistance should
be sent down to him immediately; but by this time the story had
reached the metropolis, and a hurried meeting of the Council
directed the Earl of Feversham to go to the rescue with a company
of Life Guards. The faithful Earl of Ailesbury also hastened to
the King's assistance. In five hours he accomplished the journey
from London to Faversham. So rapidly had the reports been circulated
of supposed ravages of the Irish Papists, that when the Earl
reached Rochester, the entire town was in a state of panic, and
the alarmed inhabitants were busily engaged in demolishing the
bridge to prevent the dreaded incursion.

But to return to James at Faversham. The mariners who had handled
him so roughly now took his part--in addition to his property--and
insisted upon sleeping in the adjoining room to that in which
he was incarcerated, to protect him from further harm. Early
on Saturday morning the Earl of Feversham made his appearance;
and after some little hesitation on the King's side, he was at
length persuaded to return to London. So he set out on horseback,
breaking the journey at Rochester, where he slept on the Saturday
night at Sir Richard Head's house. On the Sunday he rode on to
Dartford, where he took coach to Southwark and Whitehall. A temporary
reaction had now set in, and the cordial reception which greeted
his reappearance revived his hopes and spirits. This reaction,
however, was but short-lived, for no sooner had the poor King
retired to the privacy of his bed-chamber at Whitehall Palace,
than an imperious message from his son-in-law ordered him to
remove without delay to Ham House, Petersham.



James objected strongly to this; the place, he said, was damp and
unfurnished (which, by the way, was not the case if we may judge
from Evelyn, who visited the mansion not long before, when it was
"furnished like a great Prince's"--indeed, the same furniture
remains intact to this day), and a message was sent back that if
he must quit Whitehall he would prefer to retire to Rochester,
which wish was readily accorded him.



Tradition, regardless of fact, associates the grand old seat
of the Lauderdales and Dysarts with King James's escape from
England. A certain secret staircase is still pointed out by which
the dethroned monarch is said to have made his exit, and visitors
to the Stuart Exhibition a few years ago will remember a sword
which, with the King's hat and cloak, is said to have been left
behind when he quitted the mansion. Now there existed, not many
miles away, also close to the river Thames, _another_ Ham
House, which was closely associated with James II., and it seems,
therefore, possible, in fact probable, that the past associations
of the one house have attached themselves to the other.

In Ham House, Weybridge, lived for some years the King's discarded
mistress Catherine Sedley, Countess of Dorchester. At the actual
time of James's abdication this lady was in France, but in the
earlier part of his reign the King was a frequent visitor here.
In Charles II.'s time the house belonged to Jane Bickerton, the
mistress and afterwards wife of the sixth Duke of Norfolk. Evelyn
dined there soon after this marriage had been solemnised. "The
Duke," he says, "leading me about the house made no scruple of
showing me all the hiding-places for the Popish priests and where
they said Masse, for he was no bigoted Papist." At the Duke's
death "the palace" was sold to the Countess of Dorchester, whose
descendants pulled it down some fifty years ago. The oak-panelled
rooms were richly parquetted with "cedar and cyprus." One of them
until the last retained the name of "the King's Bedroom." It had a
private communication with a little Roman Catholic chapel in the
building. The attics, as at Compton Winyates, were called "the
Barracks," tradition associating them with the King's guards, who
are said to have been lodged there. Upon the walls hung portraits
of the Duchesses of Leeds and Dorset, of Nell Gwyn and the Countess
herself, and of Earl Portmore, who married her daughter. Here also
formerly was Holbein's famous picture, Bluff King Hal and the
Dukes of Suffolk and Norfolk dancing a minuet with Anne Boleyn
and the Dowager-Queens of France and Scotland. Evelyn saw the
painting in August, 1678, and records "the sprightly motion"
and "amorous countenances of the ladies." (This picture is now,
or was recently, in the possession of Major-General Sotheby.)

A few years after James's abdication, the Earl of Ailesbury rented
the house from the Countess, who lived meanwhile in a small house
adjacent, and was in the habit of coming into the gardens of the
palace by a key of admittance she kept for that purpose. Upon
one of these occasions the Earl and she had a disagreement about
the lease, and so forcible were the lady's coarse expressions,
for she never could restrain the licence of her tongue, that she
had to be ejected from the premises, whereupon, says Ailesbury,
"she bade me go to my----King James," with the assurance that
"she would make King William spit on me."



But to follow James II.'s ill-fortunes to Rochester, where he was
conveyed on the Tuesday at noon by royal barge, with an escort of
Dutch soldiers, with Lords Arran, Dumbarton, etc., in attendance--"a
sad sight," says Evelyn, who witnessed the departure. The King
recognised among those set to guard him an old lieutenant of the
Horse who had fought under him, when Duke of York, at the battle
of Dunkirk. Colonel Wycke, in command of the King's escort, was
a nephew of the court painter Sir Peter Lely, who had owed his
success to the patronage of Charles II. and his brother. The
part the Colonel had to act was a painful one, and he begged the
King's pardon. The royal prisoner was lodged for the night at
Gravesend, at the house of a lawyer, and next morning the journey
was continued to Rochester.

The royalist Sir Richard Head again had the honour of acting
as the King's host, and his guest was allowed to go in and out
of the house as he pleased, for diplomatic William of Orange
had arranged that no opportunity should be lost for James to
make use of a passport which the Duke of Berwick had obtained
for "a certain gentleman and two servants." James's movements,
therefore, were hampered in no way. But the King, ever suspicious,
planned his escape from Rochester with the greatest caution and
secrecy, and many of his most attached and loyal adherents were
kept in ignorance of his final departure. James's little court
consisted of the Earls of Arran, Lichfield, Middleton, Dumbarton,
and Ailesbury, the Duke of Berwick, Sir Stephen Fox, Major-General
Sackville, Mr. Grahame, Fenton, and a few others.

On the evening of the King's flight the company dispersed as was
customary, when Ailesbury intimated, by removing his Majesty's
stockings, that the King was about to seek his couch. The Earl
of Dumbarton retired with James to his apartment, who, when the
house was quiet for the night, got up, dressed, and "by way of
the back stairs," according to the Stuart Papers, passed "through
the garden, where Macdonald stayed for him, with the Duke of
Berwick and Mr. Biddulph, to show him the way to Trevanion's
boat. About twelve at night they rowed down to the smack, which
was waiting without the fort at Sheerness. It blew so hard right
ahead, and ebb tide being done before they got to the Salt Pans,
that it was near six before they got to the smack. Captain Trevanion
not being able to trust the officers of his ship, they got on
board the _Eagle_ fireship, commanded by Captain Welford,
on which, the wind and tide being against them, they stayed till
daybreak, when the King went on board the smack." On Christmas
Day James landed at Ambleteuse.

Thus the old town of Rochester witnessed the departure of the
last male representative of the Stuart line who wore a crown.
Twenty-eight years before, every window and gable end had been
gaily bedecked with many coloured ribbons, banners, and flowers
to welcome in the restored monarch. The picturesque old red brick
"Restoration House" still stands to carry us back to the eventful
night when "his sacred Majesty" slept within its walls upon his
way from Dover to London--a striking contrast to "Abdication
House," the gloomy abode of Sir Richard Head, of more melancholy

Much altered and modernised, this old mansion also remains. It
is in the High Street, and is now, or was recently, occupied as a
draper's shop. Here may be seen the "presence-chamber" where the
dethroned King heard Mass, and the royal bedchamber where, after
his secret departure, a letter was found on the table addressed
to Lord Middleton, for both he and Lord Ailesbury were kept in
ignorance of James II.'s final movements. The old garden may
be seen with the steps leading down to the river, much as it
was a couple of centuries ago, though the river now no longer
flows in near proximity, owing to the drainage of the marshes
and the "subsequent improvements" of later days.

The hidden passage in the staircase wall may also be seen, and
the trap-door leading to it from the attics above. Tradition says
the King made use of these; and if he did so, the probability is
that it was done more to avoid his host's over-zealous neighbours,
than from fear of arrest through the vigilance of the spies of
his son-in-law.[1]

[Footnote 1: It may be of interest to state that the illustrations
we give of the house were originally exhibited at the Stuart
Exhibition by Sir Robert G. Head, the living representative of
the old Royalist family]

Exactly three months after James left England he made his
reappearance at Kinsale and entered Dublin in triumphal state.
The siege of Londonderry and the decisive battle of the Boyne
followed, and for a third and last time James II. was a fugitive
from his realms. The melancholy story is graphically told in Mr.
A. C. Gow's dramatic picture, an engraving of which I understand
has recently been published.

How the unfortunate King rode from Dublin to Duncannon Fort,
leaving his faithful followers and ill-fortunes behind him; got
aboard the French vessel anchored there for his safety; and returned
once more to the protection of the Grande Monarque at the palace
of St. Germain, is an oft-told story of Stuart ingratitude.





At the "Restoration House" previously mentioned there is a secret
passage in the wall of an upper room; but though the Merry Monarch
is, according to popular tradition, credited with a monopoly of
hiding-places all over England, it is more than doubtful whether
he had recourse to these exploits, in which he was so successful
in 1651, upon such a joyful occasion, except, indeed, through
sheer force of habit.

Even Cromwell's name is connected with hiding-places! But it
is difficult to conjecture upon what occasions his Excellency
found it convenient to secrete himself, unless it was in his
later days, when he went about in fear of assassination.

Hale House, Islington, pulled down in 1853, had a concealed recess
behind the wainscot over the mantel-piece, formed by the curve
of the chimney. In this, tradition says, the Lord Protector was
hidden. Nor is this the solitary instance, for a dark hole in
one of the gable ends of Cromwell House, Mortlake (taken down in
1860), locally known as "Old Noll's Hole," is said to have afforded
him temporary accommodation when his was life in danger.[1] The
residence of his son-in-law Ireton (Cromwell House) at Highgate
contained a large secret chamber at the back of a cupboard in
one of the upper rooms, and extended back twelve or fourteen
feet, but the cupboard has now been removed and the space at the
back converted into a passage.

[Footnote 1: See Faulkner's _History of Islington_.]

The ancient manor house of Armscot, in an old-world corner of
Worcestershire, contains in one of its gables a hiding-place
entered through a narrow opening in the plaster wall, not unlike
that at Ufton Court, and capable of holding many people. From the
fact that George Fox was arrested in this house on October 17th,
1673, when he was being persecuted by the county magistrates, the
story has come down to the yokels of the neighbourhood that "old
Guy Fawkes, the first Quaker," was hidden here! In his journal Fox
mentions his arrest at Armscot after a "very large and precious
meeting" in the barn close by; but we have no allusion to the
hiding-place, for he appears to have been sitting in the parlour
when Henry Parker, the Justice, arrived--indeed, George Fox was
not the sort of man to have recourse to concealments, and owe
his escape to a "priest's hole."

The suggestion of a sudden reverse in religious persecution driving
a Quaker to such an extremity calls to mind an old farmstead
where a political change from monarchy to commonwealth forced
Puritan and cavalier consecutively to seek refuge in the secret
chamber. This narrow hiding-place, beside the spacious fire-place,
is pointed out in an ancient house in the parish of Hinchford,
in Eastern Essex.

Even the notorious Judge Jeffreys had in his house facilities
for concealment and escape. His old residence in Delahay Street,
Westminster, demolished a few years ago, had its secret panel
in the wainscoting, but in what way the cruel Lord Chancellor
made use of it does not transpire; possibly it may have been
utilised at the time of James II.'s flight from Whitehall.

A remarkable discovery was made early in the last century at the
Elizabethan manor house of Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire,
only a portion of which remains incorporated in a modern structure.
Upon removing some of the wallpaper of a passage on the second
floor, the entrance to a room hitherto unknown was laid bare. It
was a small apartment about eight feet square, and presented the
appearance as if some occupant had just quitted it. A chair and
a table within, each bore evidence of the last inmate. Over the
back of the former hung a priest's black cassock, carelessly flung
there a century or more ago, while on the table stood an antique
tea-pot, cup, and silver spoon, the very tea leaves crumbled to
dust with age. On the same storey were two rooms known as "the
chapel" and the "priest's room," the names of which signify the
former use of the concealed apartment.

Sir Walter Scott records a curious "find," similar in many respects
to that at Bourton. In the course of some structural alterations to
an ancient house near Edinburgh three unknown rooms were brought to
light, bearing testimony of their last inmate. One of them had been
occupied as a bedroom. The clothing of the bed was disarranged,
as if it had been slept in only a few hours previously, and close
by was an antique dressing-gown. How interesting it would be to
know some particulars of the sudden surprise which evidently
drove the owner of the garment from his snug quarters--whether
he effected his escape, or whether he was captured! The walls
of this buried chamber, if they could speak, had some curious
story to relate.

Not many years ago the late squire of East Hendred House, Berkshire,
discovered the existence of a secret chamber in casually glancing
over some ancient papers belonging to the house. "The little
room," as it was called, from its proximity to the chapel, had
no doubt been turned to good account during the penal laws of
Elizabeth's reign, as the chamber itself and other parts of the
house date from a much earlier period.

Long after the palatial Sussex mansion of Cowdray was burnt down,
the habitable remains (the keeper's lodge, in the centre of the
park) contained an ingenious hiding-place behind a fireplace in
a bedroom, which was reached by a movable panel in a cupboard,
communicating with the roof by a slender flight of steps. It
was very high, reaching up two storeys, but extremely narrow,
so much so that directly opposite a stone bench which stood in
a recess for a seat, the wall was hollowed out to admit of the
knees. When this secret chamber was discovered, it contained an
iron chair, a quaint old brass lamp, and some manuscripts of
the Montague family. The Cowdray tradition says that the fifth
Viscount was concealed in this hiding-place for a considerable
period, owing to some dark crime he is supposed to have committed,
though he was generally believed to have fled abroad. Secret
nocturnal interviews took place between Lord Montague and his
wife in "My Lady's Walk," an isolated spot in Cowdray Park. The
Montagues, now extinct, are said to have been very chary with
reference to their Roman Catholic forefathers, and never allowed
the secret chamber to be shown.[1]

[Footnote 1: See _History of a Great English House_.]

A weird story clings to the ruins of Minster Lovel Manor House,
Oxfordshire, the ancient seat of the Lords Lovel. After the battle
of Stoke, Francis, the last Viscount, who had sided with the
cause of Simnel against King Henry VII., fled back to his house
in disguise, but from the night of his return was never seen or
heard of again, and for nearly two centuries his disappearance
remained a mystery. In the meantime the manor house had been
dismantled and the remains tenanted by a farmer; but a strange
discovery was made in the year 1708. A concealed vault was found,
and in it, seated before a table, with a prayer-book lying open
upon it, was the entire skeleton of a man. In the secret chamber
were certain barrels and jars which had contained food sufficient
to last perhaps some weeks; but the mansion having been seized
by the King, soon after the unfortunate Lord Lovel is supposed
to have concealed himself, the probability is that, unable to
regain his liberty, the neglect or treachery of a servant or
tenant brought about this tragic end.

A discovery of this nature was made in 1785 in a hidden vault
at the foot of a stone staircase at Brandon Hall, Suffolk.

Kingerby Hall, Lincolnshire, has a ghostly tradition of an
unfortunate occupant of the hiding-hole near a fireplace being
intentionally fastened in so that he was stifled with the heat and
smoke; the skeleton was found years afterwards in this horrible

Bayons Manor, in the same county, has some very curious arrangements
for the sake of secretion and defence. There is a room in one of
the barbican towers occupying its entire circumference, but so
effectually hidden that its existence would never be suspected.
In two of the towers are curious concealed stairs, and approaching
"the Bishop's Tower" from the outer court or ballium, part of
a flight of steps can be raised like a drawbridge to prevent
sudden intrusion.[1]

[Footnote 1: See Burke's _Visitation of Seats_, vol. i.]

A contributor to that excellent little journal _The Rambler_,
unfortunately now extinct, mentions another very strange and
weird device for security. "In the state-room of my castle,"
says the owner of this death-trap, "is the family shield, which
on a part being touched, revolves, and a flight of steps becomes
visible. The first, third, fifth, and all odd steps are to be
trusted, but to tread any of the others is to set in motion some
concealed machinery which causes the staircase to collapse,
disclosing a vault some seventy feet in depth, down which the
unwary are precipitated."

At Tyttenhanger House, Hertfordshire, and in the old manor house
of Newport, Isle of Wight (where the captive King Charles I.
spent some of his last melancholy days), there are rooms with
passages in the walls running completely round them. Similar
passages were found some years ago while making alterations to
Highclere Castle Hampshire.

The once magnificent Madeley Court, Salop[1] (now, alas! in the
last stage of desolation and decay, surrounded by coal-fields and
undermined by pits), is honeycombed with places for concealment
and escape. A ruinous apartment at the top of the house, known
as "the chapel" (only a few years ago wainscoted to the ceiling
and divided by fine old oak screen), contained a secret chamber
behind one of the panels. This could be fastened on the inside by
a strong bolt. The walls of the mansion are of immense thickness,
and the recesses and nooks noticeable everywhere were evidently at
one time places of concealment; one long triangular recess extends
between two ruinous chambers (mere skeletons of past grandeur),
and was no doubt for the purpose of reaching the basement from
the first floor other than by the staircases. In the upper part
of the house a dismal pit or well extends to the ground level,
where it slants off in an oblique direction below the building,
and terminates in a large pool or lake, after the fashion of
that already described at Baddesley Clinton, in Warwickshire.

[Footnote 1: This house must not be confused with "the Upper House,"
connected with Charles II.'s wanderings.]

Everything points to the former magnificence of this mansion;
the elaborate gate-house, the handsome stone porch, and even
the colossal sundial, which last, for quaint design, can hold
its own with those of the greatest baronial castles in Scotland.
The arms of the Brooke family are to be seen emblazoned on the
walls, a member of whom, Sir Basil, was he who christened the
hunting-lodge of the Giffards "Boscobel," from the Italian words
"bos co bello," on account of its woody situation. It is long
since the Brookes migrated from Madeley--now close upon two

The deadly looking pits occasionally seen in ancient buildings
are dangerous, to say the least of it. They may be likened to
the shaft of our modern lift, with the car at the bottom and
nothing above to prevent one from taking a step into eternity!

A friend at Twickenham sends us a curious account of a recent
exploration of what was once the manor house, "Arragon Towers."
We cannot do better than quote his words, written in answer to a
request for particulars. "I did not," he says, "make sufficient
examination of the hiding-place in the old manor house of Twickenham
to give a detailed description of it, and I have no one here
whom I could get to accompany me in exploring it now. It is not
a thing to do by one's self, as one might make a false step,
and have no one to assist in retrieving it. The entrance is in
the top room of the one remaining turret by means of a movable
panel in the wall opposite the window. The panel displaced, you
see the top of a thick wall (almost on a line with the floor of
the room). The width of the aperture is, I should think, nearly
three feet; that of the wall-top about a foot and a half; the
remaining space between the wall-top and the outer wall of the
house is what you might perhaps term 'a chasm'--it is a sheer
drop to the cellars of the house. I was told by the workmen that
by walking the length of the wall-top (some fifteen feet) I should
reach a stairway conducting to the vaults below, and that on
reaching the bottom, a passage led off in the direction of the
river, the tradition being that it actually went beneath the
river to Ham House."



During the Jacobite risings of 1715 and 1745 some of the "priest's
holes" in the old Roman Catholic houses, especially in the north
of England and in Scotland, came into requisition not only for
storing arms and ammunition, but, after the failure of each
enterprise, for concealing adherents of the luckless House of

In the earlier mansion of Worksop, Nottinghamshire (burnt down
in 1761), there was a large concealed chamber provided with a
fireplace and a bed, which could only be entered by removing
the sheets of lead forming the roofing. Beneath was a trap-door
opening to a precipitous flight of narrow steps in the thickness
of a wall. This led to a secret chamber, that had an inner
hiding-place at the back of a sliding panel. A witness in a trial
succeeding "the '45" declared to having seen a large quantity
of arms there in readiness for the insurrection.

The last days of the notorious Lord Lovat are associated with
some of the old houses in the north. Cawdor Castle, Nairnshire,
and Netherwhitton, in Northumberland, claim the honour of hiding
this double-faced traitor prior to his arrest. At the former is a
small chamber near the roof, and in the latter is a hiding-place
measuring eight feet by three and ten feet high. Nor must be
forgotten the tradition of Mistress Beatrice Cope, behind the
walls of whose bedroom Lovat (so goes the story) was concealed,
and the fugitive, being asthmatical, would have revealed his
whereabouts to the soldiers in search of him, had not Mistress
Cope herself kept up a persistent and violent fit of coughing
to drown the noise.

A secret room in the old Tudor house Ty Mawr, Monmouthshire,
is associated with the Jacobite risings. It is at the back of
"the parlour" fireplace, and is entered through a square stone
slab at the foot of the staircase. The chamber is provided with a
small fireplace, the flue of which is connected with the ordinary
chimney, so as to conceal the smoke. The same sort of thing may
be seen at Bisham Abbey, Berks.

Early in the last century a large hiding-place was found at Danby
Hall, Yorkshire. It contained a large quantity of swords and
pistols. Upwards of fifty sets of harness of untanned leather of
the early part of the eighteenth century were further discovered,
all of them in so good a state of preservation that they were
afterwards used as cart-horse gear upon the farm.

No less than nine of the followers of "Bonnie Prince Charlie" are
said to have been concealed in a secret chamber at Fetternear,
Kemnay, Aberdeenshire, an old seat of the Leslys of Balquhane. It
was situated in the wall behind a large bookcase with a glazed
front, a fixture in the room, the back of which could be made
to slide back and give admittance to the recess.

Quite by accident an opening was discovered in a corner cupboard
at an old house near Darlington. Certain alterations were in
progress which necessitated the removal of the shelves, but upon
this being attempted, they descended in some mysterious manner.
The back of the cavity could then be pushed aside (that is to
say, when the secret of its mechanism was discovered), and a
hiding-place opened out to view. It contained some tawdry ornaments
of Highland dress, which at one time, it was conjectured, belonged
to an adherent of Prince Charlie.

The old mansion of Stonyhurst, Lancashire, contained eight
hiding-places. One of them, exactly like that at Fetternear,
was at the back of a bookcase. A secret spring was discovered
which opened a concealed door in the wall. In the space behind,
a quantity of James II. guineas, a bed, a mattress, and a flask
of rum were found. A former student of this famous Jesuit college,
who was instrumental in the discovery of a "priest's hole," has
provided us with the following particulars: "It would be too
long to tell you how I first discovered that in the floor of
my bedroom, in the recess of the huge Elizabethan bay window,
was a trap-door concealed by a thin veneering of oak; suffice
it say that with a companion I devoted a delightful half-holiday
to stripping off the veneering and breaking the lock of the
trap-door. Between my floor and the ceiling of the long gallery
below, was contrived a small room about five feet in height and
the size and shape of the bay window recess. In one corner of
this hiding-hole was what seemed a walled-up doorway, and it
occurred to my companion and myself that we had heard some vague
old tradition that all this part of the house was riddled with
secret passages leading from one concealed chamber to another,
but we did not seek to explore any farther." In pulling down a
portion of the college, a hollow beam was discovered that opened
upon concealed hinges, used formerly for secreting articles of
value or sacred books and vessels; and during some alterations
to the central tower, over the main entrance to the mansion,
a "priest's hole" was found, containing seven horse pistols,
ready loaded and some of them richly ornamented with silver. A
view could be obtained from the interior of the hiding-place,
in the same manner as that which we have described in the old
summer-house at Salisbury; a small hole being devised in the design
of the Sherburn arms upon the marble shield over the gateway.
This was the only provision for air and light.

The quaint discovery of rum at Stonyhurst suggests the story
of a hiding-place in an old house at Bishops Middleham, near
Durham, mentioned by Southey in his _Commonplace Book_.
The house was occupied for years by a supposed total abstainer;
but a "priest's hole" in his bedroom, discovered after his death
full of strong liquor, revealed the fact that by utilising the
receptacle as a cellar he had been able to imbibe secretly to
his heart's content.

A large quantity or Georgian gold coins were found some years ago
in a small hiding-place under the oaken sill of a bedroom window
at Gawthorp Hall, Lancashire, placed there, it is supposed, for
the use of Prince Charles's army in passing through the country
in 1745.

The laird of Belucraig (an old mansion in the parish of Aboyne,
Aberdeenshire) was concealed after "the '45" in his own house,
while his wife, like the hostess of Chastleton, hospitably
entertained the soldiers who were in search of him. The secret
chamber where he was concealed was found some years ago in making
some alterations to the roof. In it were a quantity of Jacobite
papers and a curious old arm-chair. The original entry was through
a panel at the back of a "box bed" in the wainscot of a small,
isolated bedroom at the top of the house. The room itself could
only be reached by a secret staircase from a corridor below. The
hiding-place was therefore doubly secure, and was a stronghold in
case of greatest emergency. The Innes of Drumgersk and Belucraig were
always staunch Roman Catholics and Jacobites. Their representatives
lived in the old house until 1850.

In another old Aberdeenshire mansion, Dalpersie House, a hiding-hole
or recess may be seen in one of the upper chambers, where was
arrested a Gordon, one of the last victims executed after "the

The ancient castles of Fyvie, Elphinstone, and Kemnay House have
their secret chambers. The first of these is, with the exception
of Glamis, perhaps, the most picturesque example of the tall-roofed
and cone-topped turret style of architecture introduced from
France in the days of James VI. A small space marked "the armoury"
in an old plan of the building could in no way be accounted for,
it possessing neither door, window, nor fireplace; a trap-door,
however, was at length found in the floor immediately above its
supposed locality which led to its identification. At Kemnay
(Aberdeenshire) the hiding-place is in the dining-room chimney;
and at Elphinstone (East Lothian), in the bay of a window of
the great hall, is a masked entrance to a narrow stair in the
thickness of the wall leading to a little room situated in the
northeast angle of the tower; it further has an exit through a
trap-door in the floor of a passage in the upper part of the

The now ruinous castle of Towie Barclay, near Banff, has evidences
of secret ways and contrivances. Adjoining the fireplace of the
great hall is a small room constructed for this purpose. In the
wall of the same apartment is also a recess only to be reached by
a narrow stairway in the thickness of the masonry, and approached
from the flooring above the hall. A similar contrivance exists
between the outer and inner walls of the dining hall of Carew
Castle, Pembrokeshire.

Coxton Tower, near Elgin, contains a singular provision for
communication from the top of the building to the basement, perfectly
independent of the staircase. In the centre of each floor is a
square stone which, when removed, reveals an opening from the
summit to the base of the tower, through which a person could
be lowered.

Another curious old Scottish mansion, famous for its secret chambers
and passages, is Gordonstown. Here, in the pavement of a corridor
in the west wing, a stone may be swung aside, beneath which is
a narrow cell scooped out of one of the foundation walls. It
may be followed to the adjoining angle, where it branches off
into the next wall to an extent capable of holding fifty or sixty
persons. Another large hiding-place is situated in one of the
rooms at the back of a tall press or cupboard. The space in the
wall is sufficiently large to contain eight or nine people, and
entrance to it is effected by unloosing a spring bolt under the
lower shelf, when the whole back of the press swings aside.

Whether the mystery of the famous secret room at Glamis Castle,
Forfarshire, has ever been solved or satisfactorily explained
beyond the many legends and stories told in connection with it,
we have not been able to determine. The walls in this remarkable
old mansion are in parts over twelve feet thick, and in them are
several curious recesses, notably near the windows of the "stone
hall." The secret chamber, or "Fyvie-room," as it is sometimes
called, is said to have a window, which nevertheless has not
led to the identification of its situation. Sir Walter Scott
once slept a night at Glamis, and has described the "wild and
straggling arrangement of the accommodation within doors." "I
was conducted," he says, "to my apartment in a distant corner
of the building. I must own, as I heard door after door shut
after my conductor had retired, I began to consider myself too
far from the living and somewhat too near the dead--in a word,
I experienced sensations which, though not remarkable either for
timidity or superstition, did not fail to affect me to the point
of being disagreeable." We have the great novelist's authority
for saying that the entrance of the secret chamber (in his time,
at any rate), by the law or custom of the family, could
be known to three persons at once--_viz._ the Earl of
Strathmore, his heir-apparent, and any third person whom they
might take into their confidence.

The great mystery of the secret chamber was imparted to the heir
of Glamis, or the heir-presumptive, as the case might be, upon the
eve of his arriving at his majority, and thus it passed into modern
times from the dim and distant feudal days. That the secret should
be thus handed down through centuries without being divulged is
indeed remarkable, yet so is the story; and many a time a future
lord of Glamis has boasted that he would reveal everything when
he should come of age. Still, however, when that time _did_
arrive, in every case the recipient of the deadly secret has
solemnly refused point blank to speak a word upon the subject.

There is a secret chamber at the old Cumberland seat of the ancient
family of Senhouse. To this day its position is known only by
the heir-at-law and the family solicitor. This room at Nether
Hall is said to have no window, and has hitherto baffled every
attempt of those not in the secret to discover its whereabouts.

Remarkable as this may seem in these prosaic days, it has been
confirmed by the present representative of the family, who, in a
communication to us upon the subject, writes as follows: "It may
be romantic, but still it is true that the secret has survived
frequent searches of visitors. There is no one alive who has
been in it, that I am aware, except myself." Brandeston Hall,
Suffolk, is also said to have a hiding place known only to two
or three persons.



Numerous old houses possess secret doors, passages, and
staircases--Franks, in Kent; Eshe Hall, Durham; Binns House,
Scotland; Dannoty Hall, and Whatton Abbey, Yorkshire; are examples.
The last of these has a narrow flight of steps leading down to
the moat, as at Baddesley Clinton. The old house Marks, near
Romford, pulled down in 1808 after many years of neglect and
decay--as well as the ancient seat of the Tichbournes in Hampshire,
pulled down in 1803--and the west side of Holme Hall, Lancashire,
demolished in the last century, proved to have been riddled with
hollow walls. Secret doors and panels are still pointed out at
Bramshill, Hants (in the long gallery and billiard-room); the
oak room, Bochym House, Cornwall; the King's bedchamber, Ford
Castle, Northumberland; the plotting-parlour of the White Hart
Hotel, Hull; Low Hall, Yeadon, Yorkshire; Sawston; the Queen's
chamber at Kimbolton Castle, Huntingdonshire, etc., etc.

A concealed door exists on the left-hand side of the fireplace
of the gilt room of Holland House, Kensington, associated by
tradition with the ghost of the first Lord Holland. Upon the
authority of the Princess Lichtenstein, it appears there is,
close by, a blood-stain which nothing can efface! It is to be
hoped no enterprising person may be induced to try his skill here
with the success that attended a similar attempt at Holyrood,
as recorded by Scott![1]

[Footnote 1: _Vide_ Introduction to _The Fair Maid of

In the King's writing-closet at Hampton Court may be seen the
"secret door" by which William III. left the palace when he wished
to go out unobserved; but this is more of a _private_ exit
than a _secret_ one.



The old Château du Puits, Guernsey, has a hiding-hole placed
between two walls which form an acute angle; the one constituting
part of the masonry of an inner courtyard, the other a wall on
the eastern side of the main structure. The space between could
be reached through the floor of an upper room.

Cussans, in his _History of Hertfordshire_, gives a curious
account of the discovery of an iron door up the kitchen chimney
of the old house Markyate Cell, near Dunstable. A short flight
of steps led from it to another door of stout oak, which opened
by a secret spring, and led to an unknown chamber on the ground
level. Local tradition says this was the favourite haunt of a
certain "wicked Lady Ferrers," who, disguised in male attire,
robbed travellers upon the highway, and being wounded in one
of these exploits, was discovered lying dead outside the walls
of the house; and the malignant nature of this lady's spectre
is said to have had so firm a hold upon the villagers that no
local labourer could be induced to work upon that particular
part of the building.

Beare Park, near Middleham, Yorkshire, had a hiding-hole entered
from the kitchen chimney, as had also the Rookery Farm, near
Cromer; West Coker Manor House; and The Chantry, at Ilminster,
both in Somerset. At the last named, in another hiding-place in
the room above, a bracket or credence-table was found, which
is still preserved.

Many weird stories are told about Bovey House, South Devon, situated
near the once notorious smuggling villages of Beer and Branscombe.
Upon removing some leads of the roof a secret room was found,
furnished with a chair and table. The well here is remarkable,
and similar to that at Carisbrooke, with the exception that two
people take the place of the donkey! Thirty feet below the ground
level there is said to have been a hiding-place--a large cavity
cut in the solid rock. Many years ago a skeleton of a man was
found at the bottom. Such dramatic material should suggest to some
sensational novelist a tragic story, as the well and lime-walk at
Ingatestone is said to have suggested _Lady Audley's Secret_.

A hiding-place something after the same style existed in the now
demolished manor house of Besils Leigh, Berks. Down the shaft
of a chimney a cavity was scooped out of the brickwork, to which
a refugee had to be lowered by a rope. One of the towers of the
west gate of Bodiam Castle contains a narrow square well in the
wall leading to the ground level, and, as the guide was wont
to remark, "how much farther the Lord only knows"! This sort
of thing may also be seen at Mancetter Manor, Warwickshire, and
Ightham Moat, Kent, both approached by a staircase.

A communication formerly ran from a secret chamber in the
oak-panelled dining-room of Birtsmorton Court, Worcestershire,
to a passage beneath the moat that surrounds the structure, and
thence to an exit on the other side of the water. During the Wars
of the Roses Sir John Oldcastle is said to have been concealed
behind the secret panel; but now the romance is somewhat marred,
for modern vandalism has converted the cupboard into a repository
for provisions. The same indignity has taken place at that splendid
old timber house in Cheshire, Moreton Hall, where a secret room,
provided with a sleeping-compartment, situated over the kitchen,
has been modernised into a repository for the storing of cheeses.
From the hiding-place the moat could formerly be reached, down
a narrow shaft in the wall.

Chelvey Court, near Bristol, contained two hiding-places; one,
at the top of the house, was formerly entered through a panel,
the other (a narrow apartment having a little window, and an
iron candle-holder projecting from the wall) through the floor
of a cupboard.[1] Both the panel and the trap-door are now done
away with, and the tradition of the existence of the secret rooms
almost forgotten, though not long since we received a letter
from an antiquarian who had seen them thirty years before, and
who was actually entertaining the idea of making practical
investigations with the aid of a carpenter or mason, to which,
as suggested, we were to be a party; the idea, however, was never
carried out.

[Footnote 1: See _Notes and Queries_, September, 1855.]



Granchester Manor House, Cambridgeshire, until recently possessed
three places of concealment. Madingley Hall, in the same
neighbourhood, has two, one of them entered from a bedroom on the
first floor, has a space in the thickness of the wall high enough
for a man to stand upright in it. The manor house of Woodcote,
Hants, also possessed two, which were each capable of holding from
fifteen to twenty men, but these repositories are now opened
out into passages. One was situated behind a stack of chimneys,
and contained an inner hiding-place. The "priests' quarters"
in connection with the hiding-places are still to be seen.

Harborough Hall, Worcestershire, has two "priests' holes," one
in the wall of the dining-room, the other behind a chimney in
an upper room.

The old mansion of the Brudenells, in Northamptonshire, Deene
Park, has a large secret chamber at the back of the fireplace
in the great hall, sufficiently capacious to hold a score of
people. Here also a hidden door in the panelling leads towards
a subterranean passage running in the direction of the ruinous
hall of Kirby, a mile and a half distant. In a like manner a
passage extended from the great hall of Warleigh, an Elizabethan
house near Plymouth, to an outlet in a cliff some sixty yards
away, at whose base the tidal river flows.

Speke Hall, Lancashire (perhaps the finest specimen extant of
the wood-and-plaster style of architecture nicknamed "Magpie "),
formerly possessed a long underground communication extending
from the house to the shore of the river Mersey; a member of
the Norreys family concealed a priest named Richard Brittain
here in the year 1586, who, by this means, effected his escape
by boat.

The famous secret passage of Nottingham Castle, by which the
young King Edward III. and his loyal associates gained access
to the fortress and captured the murderous regent and usurper
Mortimer, Earl of March, is known to this day as "Mortimer's
Hole." It runs up through the perpendicular rock upon which the
castle stands, on the south-east side from a place called Brewhouse
yard, and has an exit in what was originally the courtyard of the
building. The Earl was seized in the midst of his adherents and
retainers on the night of October 19th, 1330, and after a skirmish,
notwithstanding the prayers and entreaties of his paramour Queen
Isabella, he was bound and carried away through the passage in
the rock, and shortly afterwards met his well-deserved death on
the gallows at Smithfield.

But what ancient castle, monastery, or hall has not its traditional
subterranean passage? Certainly the majority are mythical; still,
there are some well authenticated. Burnham Abbey, Buckinghamshire,
for example, or Tenterden Hall, Hendon, had passages which have
been traced for over fifty yards; and one at Vale Royal,
Nottinghamshire, has been explored for nearly a mile. In the
older portions in both of the great wards of Windsor Castle arched
passages thread their way below the basement, through the chalk,
and penetrate to some depth below the site of the castle ditch
at the base of the walls.[1] In the neighbourhood of Ripon
subterranean passages have been found from time to time--tunnels
of finely moulded masonry supposed to have been connected at
one time with Fountains Abbey.

[Footnote 1: See Marquis of Lorne's (Duke of Argyll) _Governor's
Guide to Windsor_.]

A passage running from Arundel Castle in the direction of Amberley
has also been traced for some considerable distance, and a man and
a dog have been lost in following its windings, so the entrance
is now stopped up. About three years ago a long underground way
was discovered at Margate, reaching from the vicinity of Trinity
Church to the smugglers' caves in the cliffs; also at Port Leven,
near Helston, a long subterranean tunnel was discovered leading to
the coast, no doubt very useful in the good old smuggling days.
At Sunbury Park, Middlesex, was found a long vaulted passage some
five feet high and running a long way under the grounds. Numerous
other examples could be stated, among them at St. Radigund's
Abbey, near Dover; Liddington Manor House, Wilts; the Bury,
Rickmansworth; "Sir Harry Vane's House," Hampstead, etc., etc.



Small hidden recesses for the concealment of valuables or
compromising deeds, etc., behind the wainscoting of ancient houses,
frequently come to light. Many a curious relic has been discovered
from time to time, often telling a strange or pathetic story
of the past. A certain Lady Hoby, who lived at Bisham Abbey,
Berkshire, is said by tradition to have caused the death of her
little boy by too severe corporal punishment for his obstinacy
in learning to write, A grim sequel to the legend happened not
long since. Behind a window shutter in a small secret cavity
in the wall was found an ancient, tattered copy-book, which,
from the blots and its general slovenly appearance, was no doubt
the handiwork of the unfortunate little victim to Lady Hoby's

When the old manor house of Wandsworth was pulled down recently,
upon removing some old panelling a little cupboard was discovered,
full of dusty phials and mouldy pill-boxes bearing the names of
poor Queen Anne's numerous progeny who died in infancy.

Richard Cromwell spent many of his later years at Hursley, near
Winchester, an old house now pulled down. In the progress of
demolition what appeared to be a piece of rusty metal was found
in a small cavity in one of the walls, which turned out to be
no less important a relic than the seal of the Commonwealth of

Walford, in _Greater London_, mentions the discovery of
some articles of dress of Elizabeth's time behind the wainscot
of the old palace of Richmond, Surrey. Historical portraits have
frequently been found in this way. Behind the panelling in a
large room at the old manor house of Great Gaddesden, Herts,
were a number of small aumbrys, or recesses. A most interesting
panel-portrait of Queen Elizabeth was found in one of them, which
was exhibited at the Tudor Exhibition. In 1896, when the house
of John Wesley at Lewisham was pulled down, who should be found
between the walls but the amorous Merry Monarch and a court beauty!
The former is said to be Riley's work. Secretary Thurloe's MSS.,
as is well known, were found embedded in a ceiling of his lodgings
at Lincoln's Inn. In pulling down a block of old buildings in
Newton Street, Holborn, a hidden space was found in one of the
chimneys, and there, covered with the dust of a century, lay
a silver watch, a silk guard attached, and seals bearing the
Lovat crest. The relic was promptly claimed by Mr. John Fraser,
the claimant to the long-disputed peerage.[1]

[Footnote 1: December 14th, 1895.]

Small hiding-places have been found at the manor house of Chew
Magna, Somerset, and Milton Priory, a Tudor mansion in Berkshire.
In the latter a green shagreen case was found containing a
seventeenth-century silver and ivory pocket knife and fork. A
small hiding-place at Coughton Court, Warwickshire, brought to
light a bundle of priest's clothes, hidden there in the days
of religious persecution. In 1876 a small chamber was found at
Sanderstead Court, Surrey, containing a small blue-and-white jar
of Charles I.'s time. Three or four small secret repositories
existed behind some elaborately carved oak panels in the great
hall of the now ruinous Harden Hall, near Stockport. In similar
recesses at Gawdy Hall, Suffolk, were discovered two ancient
apostle spoons, a watch, and some Jacobean MSS. A pair of gloves
and some jewels of seventeenth-century date were brought to light
not many years ago in a secret recess at Woodham Mortimer Manor
House, Essex. A very curious example of a hiding-place for valuables
formerly existed at an old building known as Terpersie Castle,
near Alford, Lincolnshire. The sides of it were lined with stone
to preserve articles from damp, and it could be drawn out of
the wall like a drawer.

In the year 1861 a hidden receptacle was found at the Elizabethan
college of Wedmore, Kent, containing Roman Catholic MSS. and
books; and at Bromley Palace, close by, in a small aperture below
the floor, was found the leathern sole of a pointed shoe of the
Middle Ages! Small hiding-places of this nature existed in a
wing, now pulled down, of the Abbey House, Whitby (in "Lady Anne's
Room"). At Castle Ashby, Northants; Fountains Hall, near Ripon;
Ashes House, near Preston; Trent House, Somerset; and Ockwells,
Berks,[1] are panels opening upon pivots and screening small
cavities in the walls.

[Footnote 1: Another hiding-place is said to have existed behind
the fireplace of the hall.]




Horsfield, in his _History of Sussex_, gives a curious account
of the discovery in 1738 of an iron chest in a recess of a wall at
the now magnificent ruin Hurstmonceaux Castle. In the thickness
of the walls were many curious staircases communicating with the
galleries. When the old castle was allowed to fall into ruin,
the secret passages, etc., were used by smugglers as a convenient
receptacle for contraband goods.

Until recently there was an ingenious hiding-place behind a sliding
panel at the old "Bell Inn" at Sandwich which had the reputation
of having formerly been put to the same use; indeed, in many
another old house near the coast were hiding-places utilised for
a like purpose.

In pulling down an old house at Erith in 1882 a vault was discovered
with strong evidence that it had been extensively used for smuggling.
The pretty village of Branscombe, on the Devonshire coast, was,
like the adjacent village of Beer, a notorious place for smugglers.
"The Clergy House," a picturesque, low-built Tudor building
(condemned as being insecure and pulled down a few years ago),
had many mysterious stories told of its former occupants, its
underground chambers and hiding-places; indeed, the villagers
went so far as to declare that there was _another house_
beneath the foundations!

A secret chamber was discovered at the back of a fireplace in an
old house at Deal, from which a long underground passage extended
to the beach. The house was used as a school, and the unearthly
noises caused by the wind blowing up this smugglers' passage
created much consternation among the young lady pupils. A lady
of our acquaintance remembers, when a schoolgirl at Rochester,
exploring part of a vaulted tunnel running in the direction of
the castle from Eastgate House, which in those days was a school,
and had not yet received the distinction of being the "Nun's
House" of _Edwin Drood_. Some way along, the passage was
blocked by the skeleton of a donkey! Our informant is not given
to romancing, therefore we must accept the story in good faith.

All round the coast-line of Kent once famous smuggling buildings
are still pointed out. Movable hollow beams have been found
supporting cottage ceilings, containing all kinds of contraband
goods. In one case, so goes the story, a customs house officer
in walking through a room knocked his head, and the tell-tale
hollow sound (from the beam, not from his head, we will presume)
brought a discovery. At Folkestone, tradition says, a long row
of houses used for the purpose had the cellars connected one
with the other right the way along, so that the revenue officers
could be easily evaded in the case of pursuit.

The modern utility of a convenient secret panel or trap-door
occasionally is apparent from the police-court reports. The tenements
in noted thieves' quarters are often found to have
intercommunication; a masked door will lead from one house to
the other, and trap-doors will enable a thief to vanish from
the most keen-sighted detective, and nimbly thread his way over
the roofs of the neighbouring houses. There was a case in the
papers not long since; a man, being closely chased, was on the
point of being seized, when, to the astonishment of his pursuers,
he suddenly disappeared at a spot where apparently he had been
closely hemmed in.

Many old houses in Clerkenwell were, sixty or seventy years ago,
notorious thieves' dens, and were noted for their hiding-places,
trap-doors, etc., for evading the vigilance of the law. The name
of Jack Sheppard, as may be supposed, had connection with the
majority. One of these old buildings had been used in former
years as a secret Jesuits' college, and the walls were threaded
with masked passages and places of concealment; and when the old
"Red Lion Inn" in West Street was pulled down in 1836, some artful
traps and false floors were discovered which tarried well with
its reputation as a place of rendezvous and safety for outlaws.
The "Rising Sun" in Holywell Street is a curious example, there
being many false doors and traps in various parts of the house;
also in the before-mentioned Newton Street a panel could be raised
by a pulley, through which a fugitive or outlaw could effect his
escape on to the roof, and thence into the adjoining house.

One of the simplest and most secure hiding-places perhaps ever
devised by a law-breaker was that within a water-butt! A cone-shaped
repository, entered from the bottom, would allow a man to sit
within it; nevertheless, to all intents and purposes the butt
was kept full of water, and could be apparently emptied from a
tap at its base, which, of course, was raised from the ground
to admit the fugitive. We understand such a butt is still in
existence somewhere in Yorkshire.

A "secret staircase" in Partingdale House, Mill Hill, is associated
(by tradition) with the notorious Dick Turpin, perhaps because of
its proximity to his haunts upon Finchley Common. As it exists
now, however, there is no object for secrecy, the staircase leading
merely to the attics, and its position can be seen; but the door
is well disguised in a Corinthian column containing a secret
spring. Various alterations have taken place in this house, so
once upon a time it may have had a deeper meaning than is now

Another supposed resort of this famous highwayman is an old ivy-grown
cottage at Thornton Heath. Narrow steps lead up from the open
chimney towards a concealed door, from which again steps descend
and lead to a subterranean passage having an exit in the garden.



We do not intend to go into the matter of modern secret chambers,
and there are such things, as some of our present architects and
builders could tell us, for it is no uncommon thing to design
hiding-places for the security of valuables. For instance, we
know of a certain suburban residence, built not more than thirty
years ago, where one of the rooms has capacities for swallowing
up a man six feet high and broad in proportion. We have known such
a person--or shall we say victim?--to appear after a temporary
absence, of say, five minutes, with visible signs of discomfort;
but as far as we are aware the secret is as safe in his keeping
as is the famous mystery in the possession of the heir of Glamis.

An example of a sliding panel in an old house in Essex (near
Braintree) was used as a pattern for the entrance to a modern
secret chamber;[1] and no doubt there are many similar instances
where the ingenuity of our ancestors has thus been put to use
for present-day requirements.

[Footnote 1: According to the newspaper reports, the recently
recovered "Duchess of Devonshire," by Gainsborough, was for some
time secreted behind a secret panel in a sumptuous steam-launch
up the river Thames, from whence it was removed to America in
a trunk with a false bottom.]

Our collection of houses with hiding-holes is now coming to an
end. We will briefly summarise those that remain unrecorded.

"New Building" at Thirsk has, or had, a secret chamber measuring
three feet by six. Upon the outside wall on the east side of
the house is a small aperture into which a stone fitted with
such nicety that no sign of its being movable could possibly be
detected; at the same time, it could be removed with the greatest
ease in the event of its being necessary to supply a person in
hiding with food.

Catledge Hall, Cambridgeshire, has a small octangular closet
adjoining a bedroom, from which formerly there was a secret way
on to the leads of the roof.



At Dunkirk Hall, near West Bromwich, is a "priest's hole" in the
upper part of the house near "the chapel," which is now divided
into separate rooms.

Mapledurham House, axon, the old seat of the Blounts, contains
a "priest's hole" in the attics, descent into which could be
made by the aid of a rope suspended for that purpose.

Upton Court, near Slough, possesses a "priest's hole," entered
from a fireplace, provided with a double flue--one for smoke,
the other for ventilation to the hiding-place.

Knebworth House, Hertfordshire, formerly had a secret chamber
known as "Hell Hole."

Eastgate House, Rochester (before mentioned), has a hiding-place
in one of the upstairs rooms. It has, however, been altered.

Milsted Manor, Kent, is said to have a secret exit from the library;
and Sharsted Court (some three miles distant) has a cleverly
marked panel in the wainscoting of "the Tapestry Dressing-room,"
which communicates by a very narrow and steep flight of steps
in the thickness of the wall with "the Red Bedroom."

The "Clough Inn," Chard, Somersetshire, is said by tradition to
have possessed three secret rooms!

Cawdor Castle, Nairnshire--a hiding-place formerly in "the tower."
Bramhall Hall, Cheshire--two secret recesses were discovered
not long ago during alterations. The following also contain
hiding-places:--Hall-i'-the-wood, Bolling Hall, Mains Hall, and
Huncoat Hall, all in Lancashire; Drayton House, Northants; Packington
Old Hall, Warwickshire; Batsden Court, Salop; Melford Hall, Suffolk,
Fyfield House, Wilts; "New Building," Southwater, Sussex; Barsham
Rectory, Suffolk; Porter's Hall, Southend, Essex; Kirkby Knowle
Castle and Barnborough Hall, Yorkshire; Ford House, Devon; Cothele,
Cornwall; Hollingbourne Manor House, Kent (altered of late years);
Salisbury Court, near Shenley, Herts.

Of hiding-places and secret chambers in the ancient castles and
mansions upon the Continent we know but little.

Two are said to exist in an old house in the Hradschin in Prague--one
communicating from the foundation to the roof "by a windlass or
turnpike." A subterranean passage extends also from the house
beneath the street and the cathedral, and is said to have its
exit in the Hirch Graben, or vast natural moat which bounds the
château upon the north.

A lady of our acquaintance remembers her feeling of awe when,
as a school-girl, she was shown a hiding-place in an old mansion
near Baden-Baden--a huge piece of stone masonry swinging aside
upon a pivot and revealing a gloomy kind of dungeon behind.

The old French châteaux, according to Froisart, were rarely without
secret means of escape. King Louis XVI., famous for his mechanical
skill, manufactured a hiding-place in an inner corridor of his
private apartments at the Palace of Versailles. The wall where
it was situated was painted to imitate large stones, and the
grooves of the opening were cleverly concealed in the shaded
representations of the divisions. In this a vast collection of
State papers was preserved prior to the Revolution.[1]

[Footnote 1: Vide _The Memoirs of Madame Campan._]

Mr. Lang tells us, in his admirable work _Pickle the Spy_,
that Bonnie Prince Charlie, between the years 1749 and 1752,
spent much of his time in the convent of St. Joseph in the Rue
St. Dominique, in the Faubourg St. Germain, which under the late
Empire (1863) was the hotel of the Minister of War. Here he appears
to have been continually lurking behind the walls, and at night
by a secret staircase visiting his protectress Madame de Vassés.
Allusion is made in the same work to a secret cellar with a "dark
stair" leading to James III.'s furtive audience-chamber at his
residence in Rome.

So recently as the year 1832 a hiding-place in an old French
house was put to practical use by the Duchesse de Berry after
the failure of her enterprise to raise the populace in favour of
her son the Duc de Bordeaux. She had, however, to reveal herself
in preference to suffocation, a fire, either intentionally or
accidentally, having been ignited close to where she was hidden,
recalling the terrible experiences of Father Gerard at "Braddocks."



The romantic escapes of Prince Charles Edward are somewhat beyond
the province of this book, owing to the fact that the hiding-places
in which he lived for the greater part of five months were not
artificial but natural formations in the wild, mountainous country
of the Western Highlands. Far less convenient and comfortable
were these caves and fissures in the rocks than those secret
places which preserved the life of the "young chevalier's"
great-uncle Charles II. Altogether, the terrible hardships to
which the last claimant to the Stuart throne was subjected were
far greater in every way, and we can but admire the remarkable
spirit, fortitude, and courage that carried him through his numerous
dangers and trials.

The wild and picturesque character not only of the Scotch scenery,
but of the loyal Highlanders, who risked their all to save their
King, gives the story of this remarkable escape a romantic colouring
that surpasses any other of its kind, whether real or fictitious.

This, therefore, is our excuse for giving a brief summary of the
Prince's wanderings, if only to add to our other hiding-places
a record of the names of the isolated spots which have become
historical landmarks.

In his flight from the fatal battlefield of Culloden the young
Prince, when about four miles from Inverness, hastily determined
to make the best of his way towards the western coast. The first
halt was made at Castle Dounie, the seat of the crafty old traitor
Lord Lovat. A hasty meal having been taken here, Charles and his
little cavalcade of followers pushed on to Invergarry, where
the chieftain, Macdonnell of Glengarry, otherwise "Pickle the
Spy,"[1] being absent from home, an empty house was the only
welcome, but the best was made of the situation. Here the bulk of
the Prince's companions dispersed to look after their own safety,
while he and one or two chosen friends continued the journey to
Glenpean, the residence of the chieftain Donald Cameron. From
Mewboll, which was reached the next night, the fugitives proceeded
on foot to Oban, where a hovel was found for sleeping-quarters.
In the village of Glenbiasdale, in Arisaig, near to where Charles
had landed on his disastrous enterprise, he learned that a number
of Royalist cruisers were upon the alert all along the coast,
whereupon he determined to watch his opportunity and get across
to the Western Isles, and remain concealed until a French vessel
could be found to take him abroad.

[Footnote 1: _Vide_ Andrew Lang's _Pickle the Spy_.]

A boat was procured, and the little party safely embarked, but
in the voyage encountered such heavy seas that the vessel very
nearly foundered; a landing, however, being effected at a place
called Roonish, in the Isle of Benbecula, a habitation had to
be made out of a miserable hut. Two days being thus wretchedly
spent, a move was made to the Island of Scalpa, where Charles
was entertained for four days in the house of Donald Campbell.

Meanwhile, a larger vessel was procured, the object being to
reach Stornoway; but the inclemency of the weather induced Charles
and his guide Donald Macleod to make the greater part of the
journey by land. Arriving there hungry, worn out, and drenched
to the skin, the Prince passed the night at Kildun, the house
of Mrs. Mackenzie; an alarm of danger, however, forced him to
sea again with a couple of companions, O'Sullivan and O'Neal;
but shortly after they had embarked they sighted some men-of-war,
so put to land once more at the Island of Jeffurt. Four days
were passed away in this lonely spot, when the boat put out to
sea once more, and after many adventures and privations the
travellers landed at Loch Wiskaway, in Benbecula, and made their
headquarters some two miles inland at a squalid hut scarcely
bigger than a pigstye.

The next move was to an isolated locality named Glencorodale,
in the centre of South Uist, where in a hut of larger dimensions
the Prince held his court in comparative luxury, his wants being
well looked after by Sir Alexander and Lady Macdonald and other
neighbouring Jacobites. With thirty thousand pounds reward offered
for his capture, and the Western Isles practically surrounded
by the enemy, it is difficult to imagine the much-sought-for
prize coolly passing his weary hours in fishing and shooting,
yet such was the case for the whole space of a month.

An eye-witness describes Charles's costume at this time as "a
tartan short coat and vest of the same, got from Lady Clanranald;
his nightcap all patched with soot-drops, his shirt, hands, and
face patched with the same; a short kilt, tartan hose, and Highland

From South Uist the fugitive removed to the Island of Wia, where
he was received by Ranald Macdonald; thence he visited places
called Rossinish and Aikersideallich, and at the latter had to
sleep in a fissure in the rocks. Returning once more to South
Uist, Charles (accompanied by O'Neal and Mackechan) found a
hiding-place up in the hills, as the militia appeared to be
dangerously near, and at night tramped towards Benbecula, near
to which another place of safety was found in the rocks.

The memorable name of Flora Macdonald now appears upon the scene.
After much scheming and many difficulties the meeting of the Prince
and this noble lady was arranged in a squalid hut near Rosshiness.
The hardships encountered upon the journey from Benbecula to this
village were some of the worst experiences of the unfortunate
wanderer; and when his destination was reached at last, he had to
be hurried off again to a hiding-place by the sea-shore, which
provided little or no protection from the driving torrents of
rain. Early each morning this precaution had to be taken, as
the Royalist soldiers, who were quartered only a quarter of a
mile distant, repaired to the hut every morning to get milk from
the woman who acted as Charles's hostess. Upon the third day after
the Prince had arrived, Flora Macdonald joined him, bringing with
her the disguise for the character he was to impersonate upon
a proposed journey to the Isle of Skye--_viz._ "a flowered
linen gown, a light-coloured quilted petticoat, a white apron,
and a mantle of dun camlet, made after the Irish fashion, with
a hood."

A boat lay in readiness in a secluded nook on the coast, and
"Betty Burke"--the pseudo servant-maid--Flora Macdonald, and
Mackechan, as guide, embarked and got safely to Kilbride, in
Skye. Not, however, without imminent dangers. A storm nearly
swamped the boat; and upon reaching the western coast of the
island they were about to land, when a number of militiamen were
noticed on shore, close at hand, and as they recognised their
peril, and pulled away with might and main, a volley of musketry
would probably have had deadly effect, had not the fugitives
thrown themselves at the bottom of the boat.

At the house of the Macdonalds of Mugstat, whose representative
dreaded the consequences of receiving Charles, another Macdonald
was introduced as an accomplice by the merest accident. This
staunch Jacobite at once took possession of "Betty," and hurried
off towards his house of Kingsburgh. Upon the way the ungainly
appearance of Flora's maid attracted the attention of a servant,
who remarked that she had never seen such an impudent-looking
woman. "See what long strides the jade takes!" she cried; "and how
awkwardly she manages her petticoats!" And this was true enough,
for in fording a little brook "Betty Burke" had to be severely
reprimanded by her chaperon for her impropriety in lifting her
skirts! Upon reaching the house, Macdonald's little girl caught
sight of the strange woman, and ran away to tell her mother that
her father had brought home "the most old, muckle, ill-shapen-up
wife" she had ever seen. Startling news certainly for the lady
of Kingsburgh!

The old worn-out boots of the Prince's were discarded for new
ones ere he departed, and fragments of the former were long
afterwards worn in the bosoms of Jacobite ladies.

The next step in this wonderful escape was to Portree, where
temporary accommodation was found in a small public-house. Here
Charles separated from his loyal companions Neil Mackechan and
the immortal Flora. The "Betty Burke" disguise was discarded
and burnt and a Highland dress donned. With new guides the young
Chevalier now made his headquarters for a couple of days or so
in a desolate shepherd's hut in the Isle of Raasay; thence he
journeyed to the north coast of the Isle of Skye, and near Scorobreck
housed himself in a cow-shed. At this stage of his journey Charles
altered his disguise into that of a servant of his then companion
Malcolm Macleod, and at the home of his next host (a Mackinnon of
Ellagol) was introduced as "Lewie Caw," the son of a surgeon in
the Highland army. By the advice of the Mackinnons, the fugitive
decided to return, under their guidance, again to the mainland,
and a parting supper having been held in a cave by the sea-shore,
he bid adieu to the faithful Macleod. The crossing having been
effected, not without innumerable dangers, once more Charles
found himself near the locality of his first landing. For the
next three days neither cave nor hut dwelling could be found
that was considered safe; and upon the fourth day, in exploring
the shores of Loch Nevis for a hiding-place, the fugitives ran
their little craft right into a militia boat that was moored
to and screened from view by a projecting rock. The soldiers
on land immediately sprang on board and gave chase; but with
his usual good luck Charles got clear away by leaping on land
at a turn of the lake, where his retreat was covered by dense

After this the Prince was under the care of the Macdonalds, one
of which clan, Macdonald of Glenaladale, together with Donald
Cameron of Glenpean, took the place of the Mackinnons.

A brief stay was made at Morar Lake and at Borrodaile (both houses
of the Macdonalds); after which a hut in a wood near the latter
place and an artfully constructed hiding-place between two rocks
with a roof of green turf did service as the Prince's palace.

In this cave Charles received the alarming news that the Argyllshire
Militia were on the scent, and were forming an impenetrable cordon
completely round the district. Forced once more to seek refuge
in flight, the unfortunate Stuart was hurried away through some
of the wildest mountainous country he had yet been forced to
traverse. A temporary hiding-place was found, and from this a
search-party exploring the adjacent rocks and crags was watched
with breathless interest.

Still within the military circle, a desperate dash for liberty had
now to be planned. Nearly starved and reduced to the last extremity
of fatigue, Charles and his guides, Glenpean and Glenaladale,
crept stealthily upon all-fours towards the watch-fires, and
taking advantage of a favourable moment when the nearest sentry
was in such a position that their approach could be screened
by the projecting rocks, in breathless silence the three stole
by, and offering up a prayer for their deliverance, continued
their foot-sore journey until their legs would carry them no

The next four days Charles sought shelter in caves in the
neighbourhood of Glenshiel, Strathcluanie, and Strathglass; but
the most romantic episode in his remarkable adventures was the
sojourn in the secret caves and hiding-places of the notorious
robbers of Glenmoriston, under whose protection the royal fugitive
placed himself. With these wild freebooters he continued for
three weeks, during which time he made himself extremely popular
by his freedom of intercourse with them.

The wanderer left these dwellings of comparative luxury that
he might join hands with other fugitive Jacobites, Macdonald
of Lochgarry and Cameron of Clunes, and took up his quarters
in the wood-surrounded huts near Loch Arkaig and Auchnacarry.

The poor youth's appearance at this period is thus described by
one of his adherents: "The Prince was at this time bare-footed,
had an old black kilt-coat on, philabeg and waistcoat, a dirty
shirt, and a long red beard, a gun in his hand, and a pistol
and dirk by his side."

Moving again to miserable hovels in the wild recesses of the
mountain Benalder, the chieftains Lochiel and Cluny acted now
as the main bodyguard. The former of these two had devised a
very safe hiding-place in the mountain which went by the name
of "the Cage," and while here welcome news was brought that two
friendly vessels had arrived at Lochnanuagh, their mission being,
if possible, to seek out and carry away the importunate heir to
the Stuart throne.

The last three or four days of Charles's memorable adventures
were occupied in reaching Glencamger, halts being made on the
day at Corvoy and Auchnacarry. On Saturday, September 20th, 1746,
he was on board _L'Heureux_, and nine days later landed at
Roscoff, near Morlaix.

So ended the famous escapades of the young Chevalier Prince Charles

Here is a fine field open to some enterprising artistic tourist.
How interesting it would be to follow Prince Charles throughout
his journeyings in the Western Highlands, and illustrate with
pen and pencil each recorded landmark! Not long since Mr. Andrew
Lang gave, in a weekly journal (_The Sketch_), illustrations
of the most famous of all the Prince's hiding-places--_viz._
the cave in Glenmoriston, Inverness-shire.[1] The cave, we are
told, is "formed like a tumulus by tall boulders, but is clearly
a conspicious object, and a good place wherein to hunt for a
fugitive. But it served its turn, and as another cave in the same
district two miles off is lost, perhaps it is not so conspicious
as it seems." It is about twenty feet wide at the base, and the
position of the hearth and the royal bed are still to be seen,
with "the finest purling stream that could be, running by the
bed-side." How handy for the morning "tub"!

[Footnote 1: They appeared originally in Blaikie's _Itinerary
of Prince Curies Stuart_ (Scottish History Society).]

In that remarkable collection of Stuart relics on exhibition
in 1889 were many pathetic mementoes of Charles's wanderings in
the Highlands. Here could be seen not only the mittens but the
chemise of "Betty Burke"; the punch-bowl over which the Prince
and the host of Kingsburgh had a late carousal, and his Royal
Highness's table-napkins used in the same hospitable house; a
wooden coffee-mill, which provided many a welcome cup of coffee
in the days of so many hardships; a silver dessert-spoon, given
to Dr. Macleod by the fugitive when he left the Isle of Skye;
the Prince's pocket-book, many of his pistols, and a piece of
his Tartan disguise; a curious relic in the form of two lines
of music, sent as a warning to one of his lurking-places--when
folded in a particular way the following words become legible,
"Conceal yourself; your foes look for you." There was also a
letter from Charles saying he had "arrived safe aboard ye vessell"
which carried him to France, and numerous little things which
gave the history of the escape remarkable reality.

The recent dispersal of the famous Culloden collection sent
long-cherished Jacobite relics broadcast over the land. The ill-fated
Stuart's bed and walking-stick were of course the plums of this
sale; but they had no connection with the Highland wanderings
after the battle. The only object that had any connection with
the story was the gun of _L'Heureux_.

We understand there is still a much-prized heirloom now in Glasgow--a
rustic chair used by the Prince when in Skye. The story is that,
secreted in one of his cave dwellings, he espied a lad in his
immediate vicinity tending some cows. Hunger made him reveal
himself, with the result that he was taken to the boy's home,
a farm not far off, and had his fill of cream and oatcakes, a
delicacy which did not often fall in his way. The visit naturally
was repeated; and long afterwards, when the rank of his guest
came to the knowledge of the good farmer, the royal chair was
promoted from its old corner in the kitchen to an honored position
worthy of such a valued possession.



  Toddington Place
  Besils Leigh
  Bisham Abbey
  East Hendred House
  Hurley, Lady Place
  Milton Priory
  Ufton Court
  Windsor Castle
  Burnham Abbey
  Claydon House
  Dinton Hall
  Gayhurst, or Gothurst
  Slough, Upton Court
  Stoke Poges Manor House

  Catledge Hall
  Granchester Manor House
  Madingley Hall
  Sawston Hall
  Bramhall Hall
  Harden Hall
  Lyme Hall
  Moreton Hall
  Bochym House
  Port Leven
  Naworth Castle
  Nether Hall

  Bradshawe Hall
  Bovey House
  Branscombe, "The Clergy House"
  Ford House
  Bishops Middleham
  Eshe Hall

  Braddocks, or Broad Oaks
  Dunmow, North End
  Hill Hall
  Ingatestone Hall
  Romford, Marks
  Southend, Porter's Hall
  Woodham Mortimer Manor House

  Bourton-on-the-Water Manor House

  Highclere Castle
  Moyles Court
  Woodcote Manor House
  Great Gaddesden Manor House
  Hatfield House
  Knebworth House
  Markyate Cell, Dunstable
  Rickmansworth, The Bury
  Shenley, Salisbury Court
  Tyttenhanger House
  Kimbolton Castle

  Bromley Palace
  Dover, St. Radigund's Abbey
  Hollingbourne Manor House
  Ightham Moat
  Lewisham, John Wesley's House
  Milsted Manor
  Rochester, Abdication House
  Rochester, Eastgate House
  Rochester, Restoration House
  Sandwich, "Bell Inn"
  Sharsted Court
  Wedmore College

  Bolling Hall
  Borwick Hall
  Gawthorp Hall
  Holme Hall
  Huncoat Hall
  Lydiate Hall
  Mains Hall
  Preston, Ashes House
  Speke Hall
  Bayons Manor
  Irnham Hall
  Kingerby Hall
  Terpersie Castle

  Enfield, White Webb's
  Hackney, Brooke House
  Hampstead, Sir Harry Vane's House
  Hampton Court
  Hendon, Tenterden Hall
  Highgate, Cromwell House
  Hillingdon, Moorcroft House
  Islington, Hale House
  Kensington, Holland House
  London, Lincoln's Inn
  London, Newton Street, Holborn
  London, "Red Lion Inn," West Street, Clerkenwell
  London, "Rising Sun," Holywell Street
  Mill Hill, Partingdale House
  Sunbury Park
  Twickenham, Arragon Towers
  Westminster, Delahay Street

  Cromer, Rookery Farm
  Oxburgh Hall
  Ashby St. Ledgers
  Castle Ashby
  Deene Park
  Drayton House
  Great Harrowden
  Rushton Hall
  Ford Castle
  Nottingham Castle
  Vale Royal

  Broughton Castle
  Mapledurham House
  Minster Lovel Manor House
  Shipton Court
  Tusmore House

  Batsden Court
  Boscobel House
  Gatacre Park
  Longford, Newport
  Madeley Court
  Madeley, Upper House
  Oswestry, Park Hall
  Plowden Hall
  Chard, "Clough Inn"
  Chelvey Court
  Chew Magna Manor House
  Dunster Castle
  Ilminster, The Chantry
  Trent House
  West Coker Manor House
  Broughton Hall
  Moseley Hall
  West Bromwich, Dunkirk Hall
  Barsham Rectory
  Brandeston Hall
  Brandon Hall
  Coldham Hall
  Gawdy Hall
  Melford Hall
  Mortlake, Cromwell House
  Petersham, Ham House
  Richmond Palace
  Sanderstead Court
  Thornton Heath
  Wandsworth Manor House
  Weybridge, Ham House
  Albourne Place
  Arundel Castle
  Bodiam Castle
  Chichester Cathedral
  Hurstmonceaux Castle
  Parham Hall
  Scotney Castle
  Slindon House
  Southwater, Horsham, "New Building"
  Street Place

  Baddesley Clinton
  Clopton Hall
  Compton Winyates
  Coughton Court
  Mancetter Manor
  Packington Old Hall
  Salford Prior Hall
  Warwick, St. John's Hospital
  Fyfield House
  Great Chalfield
  Heale House
  Liddington Manor House
  Armscot Manor House
  Birtsmorton Court
  Cleeve Prior Manor House
  Harborough Hall
  Harvington Hall
  Hindlip Hall
  Huddington Court
  Malvern, Pickersleigh Court
  Stanford Court
  Wollas Hall

  Bamborough Hall
  Beare Park
  Danby Hall
  Dannoty Hall
  Fountains Abbey
  Fountains Hall
  Hull, White Hart Hotel
  Kirkby Knowle Castle
  Leyburn, The Grove
  Myddleton Lodge, Ilkley
  Thirsk, "New Building"
  Whatton Abbey
  Whitby, Abbey House
  Yeadon, Low Hall

  Dalpersie House
  Fyvie Castle
  Kemnay House

  Towie Barclay Castle

  Coxton Tower

  Glamis Castle

  Elphinstone Castle

  Binns House

  Cawdor Castle

  Ty Mywr

  Carew Castle

Isle of Wight:--
  Newport Manor House

  Château du Puits

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