Good morning my lovely readers! This is a rather last minute post I’m afraid, but I’m so excited to share about it. This Friday Luke and I went off on an amazing adventure, it started off at Coughton Court and then there was a last minute decision to visit Baddesley Clinton.
Now, at the moment due to this pandemic, you need to book online the day before you visit a National Trust place. However, they do say that unless it is a weekend or the holidays, you can easily ring up to check if there is any availability – since it’s less likely to be busy during a weekday you have a higher chance of booking a spontaneous trip that very same day! So me and Luke rang them up at about 3 o’clock and we were lucky enough to learn that we could just turn up.
Anyway, I’m so glad that we decided to come to Baddesley Clinton as it is honestly such a stunning and intriguing place to go visit!
When Luke and I first arrived here, we had no idea what to expect. But the moment that we walked up to the house and saw this beautiful, moated Manor House we knew that we had done the right thing.
There are plenty of historic houses around the UK that we can (and have) explored, but this is probably one of my favourites. And despite the fact that Luke and I only spent a few hours exploring the house it is certainly one that performed the best.
The manor of Baddesley Clinton in Warwickshire is a compact, warm and welcoming home, one that is designed to impress. Even during this Halloween month, the place had been decorated in a spooky fashion and it was all very well put together – something which make this experience even more intriguing.
Exploring this home is fun even without the history – the setting is just spectacular – but where would we be without a little history lesson?
Baddesley Clinton: A Brief History
I have to say that I was hugely impressed by the knowledge that the volunteers willingly provided. With the reduced amount of people entering the home, it was like Luke and I had our own private tour of each room. Every member was fantastic at taking us on an adventure – as soon as we said that this was our first visit to Baddesley Clinton they knew exactly how to intrigue us. From the very room that we entered, and whilst we signed in we couldn’t wait to find out the history of this place.
Anyway here is the history of Baddesley Clinton in brief (don’t worry I’ll go into more detail later):
The house and estate at Baddesley are an incredible survival story. It was the home of the same family, the Ferrers, for 500 years. And, despite being short of money, it passed from father to son for 12 generations.
The family remained loyal to their Catholic faith through difficult times, risking their lives giving refuge to Catholic priests.
When the house was offered for sale in 1940, the estate covered the same area as it had in 1699.
The Murderous History of Baddesley Clinton
Now for the more exciting part – since it is Halloween season, now is the perfect time to delve in deep in the murderous history of Baddesley Clinton. This sleepy, picturesque house has seen its fair share of drama, so don’t let it fool you, a lot has happened at this place.
To start with, I think it would be a good place to start is with the Wars of the Roses. During this time, the house was owned by John Brome, who was a prosperous Warwickshire lawyer and later Under-Treasurer to Henry VI. John was responsible for building the stone house on site.
It is important that you know about John Brome, although I cannot say that he had a good end to life since he was murdered in November 1468. But this wasn’t at the house, this was in Whitefriars church in London. Now the reason I tell you this is because the story behind it is quite interesting and further what happens after the story.
The story goes that having been called to the porch door during the Mass, he was stabbed by John Herthill, a steward of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, (although the grievance which led to the offence was over a property dispute between the two men, and had no connection to the Earl).
One somewhat bizarre, and unresolved, twist to this sorry tale is that clearly John survived the attack long enough to dictate a will in which he states that he forgave his eldest son, Thomas who ‘when he sawe me runne through in ye Whitefriers church porch, laughed and smiled att itt.’ But, this is all we hear and there is nothing more to it.
All we know is the estate of Baddesley Clinton was inherited by John’s second son, Nicolas.
Now Nicolas must have been a man given to intemperate outbursts; we know he killed in cold blood at least twice. The first was in revenge of his father’s murder, duelling with Herthill in 1471, and slaying his father’s murderer by the sword as a result.
Yet, more shocking still are the goings-on at Baddesley Clinton itself.
Now although I do not encourage you to not read my posts, if you are planning on visiting Baddesley Clinton and want to enjoy a suspenseful visit, then now is the time to stop reading – what I am about to tell you will ruin the gruesome history that takes place at Baddesley Clinton.
If you are happy to find out what happened then keep on reading – an account of what happened is recorded by one of Nicolas’ own descendants, Henry Ferrers, the Elizabethan owner of Baddesley Clinton.
Henry was a well-known antiquary, and he writes that Nicolas “slew ye minister of Baddesley Church finding him in his plor (parlour) chockinge his wife under ye chinne”. Apparently, ‘chin chucking’ means stroking someone affectionately under the chin and, according to one book that I’ve read it refers to ‘The Erotics of Chin Chucking in Seventeenth Century England‘ having “amorous” or “flirtatious” connotations.
This was Nicolas second murder (shocking I know) – but even more shocking is that he got away it.
Anyway, the interesting part of this story is what lies in the library…
All throughout the house we were told to look forward to the surprise in the library – if you look at the photo above, you might be able to spot the blood stain on the floor? It’s by the fireplace if you can’t see it.
In a weirdly morbid way, Luke and I were really interested in finding out more about this room – where did the blood stain come from, why was it there… The story goes that this is the blood stain that occurred after Nicolas murdered the minister for “chockinge” his wife.
BUT the interesting thing is that this room (the library) didn’t actually exist at the time so how did this blood stain appear?
It is most definitely blood, but apparently, it is Ox’s blood that the children of the family (several years after this event) decided to place as a practical joke on their parents one spooky evening. What Luke and I found even more amusing though was that the guide explained how the murder happened in that “room” but the room as we stood in it didn’t exist when the murder of the minister happened – but it certainly makes for an interesting story!
Of course, the real question is but how did Nicolas get away with not just one BUT TWO murders! The answer is simple, money. He gave the King a lot of money at the time, a bribe if you will. But it wasn’t plain sailing from that moment onwards. He also had to deal with a large extensive remodelling of the local parish church and it is suggested that when he died, he was to be buried standing up beneath the pavement of the church porch so that people could walk over his head! (You might want to check out the porch of the nearby church when you visit!)
The Mayhem Behind the Priest Holes
It’s not all murder at Baddesley Clinton though, one of the fascinating parts to this house is the three priest holes.
The priest hole where the priests hid for four hours lay below the floor level of the house and can still be seen today in the floor of the kitchen. This was the first exciting thing that we learnt about when we visited Baddesley Clinton and I have to say we were not expecting something as interesting as this!
The photo below is the only clear view of the priest hole that you can see – but there are three priest holes at Baddesley Clinton:
One a small room with a door camouflaged in the wood panelling; another is hidden in a ceiling. The third and most creative is a concealed shaft of a privy (toilet) that leads from the first floor, through the kitchen into the medieval sewers.
The priest hole in the kitchen was put to good use, at least once, in 1591 when Baddesley Clinton was unexpectedly raided by priest-hunters. An account of the raid, thought to refer to Baddesley Clinton, was written by Father John Gerard who, along with Father Henry Garnet, was one of the leading Jesuit priests in England at the time. Gerard and Garnet were both present, as were seven or eight other priests and lay helpers.
It was around 5am; they were just about to begin Mass when a great thundering and uproar came from the main gate. Loyal servants delayed the poursuivants, as the priest-hunters were called, risking their lives by doing so, saying that their mistress was not yet out of bed and able to receive them.
The priests rapidly hid everything, including their boots and swords (Father Gerard was a skilled swordsman), and even turned their mattresses over so that they would not be warm to touch. As the house was loudly searched, which took four hours, the priests stood silently, ankle-deep in water.
Anne Vaux commented that “the poursuivants behaved just like a lot of boys playing blind mans buff, who in their wild rush, bang into tables and chairs and walls and yet haven’t the slightest suspicion that their playfellows are right on top of them and almost touching them.”
Unfortunately, even though the priest survived this one instance, we do know that Father Garnet was captured in 1606 and executed after the Gunpowder Plot, which he had known about through the confession of Robert Catesby and opposed and advised against but under the sacrament of confession was unable to expose.
His Baddesley hostess Anne Vaux herself rushed from the crowd to try to speak to him on the day of his execution in London. In his last minutes an onlooker shouted out accusing him of being married to Anne Vaux. Such was the sympathy that the crowds, both Catholic and Protestant, felt for Garnet, that they refused to let him be cut down to be drawn while still alive.
Exploring the house was such a fun experience, and so perfect for this Halloween season – the decorations, the spooky history, it honestly made for a perfect day out!
If you can travel to Warwickshire then I strongly recommend visiting this place (at any time of the year), it was so just so fascinating. You’ve also got some great walks to enjoy around the house as well, so it makes for a perfect day trip!
If you like to explore multiple places, then you’ve also got Kenilworth Castle, Packwood House and Coughton Court which are all nearby!
Have you explored Baddesley Clinton before, or maybe you’re thinking of planning a trip there soon? Did you know about the gruesome murder history or the different priest holes that this place had? What did you think? Let me know in the comments 😀