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Secret Chambers and Hiding Places

Allan Fea

Book Overview: 

“Secret Chambers and Hiding Places” is a collection of concealments and their uses, almost all within England, although a very few passages and chambers in continental Europe are mentioned, Jacobite hidey holes in Scotland, while the final chapter of the book covers Bonnie Prince Charlie’s wanderings around Scotland, among caves and other hiding places. Most chapters are devoted to historical events; such as the the seventeenth century persecution of Roman Catholics (with many large houses having specially constructed “priests’ holes”), or various unpopular monarchs and their hiding places. The text is scattered with legends and true stories, with occasional skeletons found, still hiding, long centuries after the searchers have left. The author describes hidden doors, passages, rooms and pits with enormous enthusiasm … and with considerable regret when he has to describe secret places lost to demolition or modernization. You’ll wish you could wander the country, poking into the darkest recesses of every old house you find!

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Book Excerpt: 
. . . 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 t. . . Read More

Community Reviews

I never knew so many hiding places were created particularly for the Catholic Clergy in England. None of them seemed to be comfortable but they were ingenius, to say the least. Many have not been found until renovations were made to the structures that housed them. It is sad to think of the desperat

This book is about what the title says it is about. It would have been more interesting if it had described more about what was in the hiding places and some of the people who used them. The last description, about a relative of Charles II, was very interesting. He had to disguise himself, hide in d

Published in 1908, this book focuses primarily on the secret chambers and tunnels built into Catholic homes to hide and protect priests during the reign of Elizabeth I. For many, he offers anecdotes describing particular occasions these chambers had to be used, but there were also some discovered on


I followed the advice of other reviewers and bought the inexpensive print version of this book. They'd warned that the Kindle edition didn't necessarily have all the photos. The book talked about how the persecution of the Catholics under England's Queen Elizabeth I led to the creation of these "pri

This review is by my son, who is aged 8:

"This book needs some serious editing, it keeps on repeating stuff like ~ "It is a priest hole and you can fit one person laying down in it as it is a priest hole". I like it because it says loads of stuff about people hiding in places like "behind the wainsc

An excellent accompaniment to “The Hunter Priest” by Fr. John Gerard. It’s not exclusively on Priest holes but those did make the most interesting hiding places.

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