16th January 2024
Our regular Tuesday adventures resumed after a short break, and what a crisp, sunny, yet undeniably cold, day it was! The journey up the M40 was smooth, leading us to a pleasantly bustling car park at Baddesley Clinton, an imposing moated manor nestled in the Warwickshire countryside.
Stepping through the grand entrance, we were immediately drawn to the house itself, a captivating blend of Tudor and Elizabethan architecture with a rich history. Despite the valiant efforts of the National Trust volunteers, who were adorned in layers to combat the barely double-digit room temperatures, the house retained a distinct chill, a poignant reminder of its turbulent past. One volunteer said one of their number was wearing a heated gilet. Sensible type, we thought.
The knowledgeable room guides, ever eager to share their insights, expertly navigated us through the maze of chambers and corridors. Among the treasures, the priest hole captivated our imagination. Hidden behind a bookshelf, its intricate construction, crafted by one Nicholas Owen, spoke volumes of the Catholic refuge Baddesley Clinton offered during a period of religious persecution. Owen was described on an information board as “the renowned” builder & designer of priest holes. Presumably, that was a posthumous accolade?! He was canonised in 1970. One of the priests, Father John Gerard, who sheltered there, led a highly adventurous life. He was one of few people who escaped from the Tower of London and later wrote “The Autobiography of a Hunted Priest”. But was he sheltered at Baddesley? R needs to read the autobiography.
After venturing through the historical tapestry of the house, we craved warmth and sustenance! Two steaming vegetable and bean chillies later, we felt suitably fortified for further exploration. The bookshop beckoned, and while R searched, I found a science fiction section, adding to my enormous collection of To Be Read books.
Finally, before bidding farewell to Baddesley Clinton, I couldn’t resist capturing the house’s reflection in the moat. The stark contrast between the frozen waters on the north side and the ice-free surface on the south was a curious reflection of the house itself – a microcosm of history’s uneven flow, where secrets lie hidden beneath a seemingly placid surface?
Baddesley Clinton offered more than just a pleasant excursion; it was a journey through time, a glimpse into the resilience of faith and the ingenuity of those who sought solace in its walls.