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Manor home to many secrets.

Byline: Justine Halifax

JUST south of Knowle in Solihull, there's a Grade I Listed moated manor house that holds secrets which date back to the 13th century.

It was back in 1438 that Baddesley Clinton Manor was purchased by John Brome, who held the post of Under-Treasurer of England. The building was then said to have featured gun ports and possibly even a drawbridge.

In 1517 the ownership of the house passed to Brome's granddaughter who was married to Sir Edward Ferrers, who was High Sheriff of Warwickshire, and remarkably it remained in the hands of the Ferrers family for 500 years.

Now owned by the National Trust, much of the manor house, as seen by visitors today, would have been built by Henry Ferrers, who was a lawyer, diarist and antiquarian, in the late 1500s.

Additions he made include the stained glass featuring the family's coat of arms which appear in many public rooms of the house.

It's also thought he built the Great Hall, although it was rebuilt in brick and extended in the 18th century but in the same style.

Described as a Tudor refuge and a "sanctuary" for the Ferrers family, it's also where persecuted Catholics were hidden away from priest hunters in its secret hiding places during the 1590s.

There are several priest holes in Baddesley Clinton that are believed to have been built by Saint Nicholas Owen, who was a lay-brother of the Jesuits, but was later tortured to death by what was then a Protestant government.

Some of these hiding holes can be found in wood panelling and in ceilings, but one of the more complex is actually contained in an old toilet (known as a garderobe) that historians claim could have been occupied by up to a dozen people.

It's said that fugitives would have been able to slide down a rope from the first floor through the toilet shaft into house's former sewers running the length of the building.

The house, which has featured in Granada's Sherlock Homes series and The Adventure of Musgrave Ritual, boasts a wealth of 16th century carvings and as well as the 19th century accessories.

Another notable resident novelist and traveller Lady Georgina Chatterton.

Then known as Mrs Dering, lived at the house from 1869 with her ward and niece, Rebecca and her husband Marmion, who was the last old squire Baddesley Clinton, until her death in 1876, aged 69.

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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Aug 26, 2015
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