Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk - a stately home with a couple of secrets

Stately Home & Garden

Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk - a stately home with a couple of secrets

Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk, which is open to the public, has several secret passages to add to its attractions.

Built around 1482, Oxburgh Hall is a moated stately home with an imposing fortified gatehouse, complete with tall towers. Victorian architectural additions include Flemish-style gables, protruding oriel windows and terracotta chimneys. Amongst the ornate design details, there's also a couple of intriguing secret spaces hiding in plain sight...

The house was built for, and home to, the Bedingfeld family, who still live in the property. The Hall and gardens faced demolition in 1951, but were saved when Sybil, Lady Bedingfeld, her daughter Mrs Frances Playford, and niece Mrs Violet Hartcup raised enough funds to buy Oxburgh back before giving it to the National Trust in 1952.

The property has a concealed priest hide, reached by a trapdoor inside a garderobe in one of the turrets. It cleverly blends in with the tiled flooring when closed, neatly disguising the entrance. This tiny space would become a refuge for a Catholic priest in the event of the house being searched and was probably constructed during the reign of Elizabeth I.

Another secret can be found in the library. One of the bookcases is in fact a hidden door. The attention to detail is startling –the spines of the fake books, which are painted over the disguised door, contain titles that jokingly refer to events and people from Oxburgh's history.

Apparently there are six other secret doors hidden around the mansion.

Further reading

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