Baddesley Clinton, Lapworth, Warwickshire: priests in holes, friends of Dorothy and a cosy foursome

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Baddesley Clinton is a moated manor house, built in the late 1500s by Henry Ferrers, a lawyer, diarist and antiquarian. The National Trust’s tagline for it is “Discover a secluded, intimate estate set in the heart of the Forest of Arden with 500 years of fascinating and unexpected stories”.

Here is a descendant Thomas Ferrers-Walker who did the final restoration and handed it over to the National Trust for maintenance in 1980 so we could all gawk at it.

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The home was a sanctuary for persecuted Catholic priests who at intervals had to rush and hide in one of the three secret places in the house. Priest hunters in the 1590s would have executed them for treason and here is a quick history lesson as to the why:

King Henry VIII tired of his first wife Catherine of Aragon when she failed to produce a male heir to the throne. He had Ann Boleyn lined up as her replacement but divorce was a complex issue in Tudor times. England was Roman Catholic and the Pope did not allow it. To divorce meant you would be excommunicated from the church and your soul would later rot for an eternity in the flames of hell.

Henry VIII was angry at the system and ordered the Archbishop of Canterbury to grant him a divorce, which he did. England then broke away from the Catholic Church. There were no protesting riots since the nation was fed up with being charged a mint for births, marriages and deaths. Henry VIII knew people disagreed with the wealth accumulated by the Church and so worked the situation it to his advantage. He placed himself as Head of the Church of England and shut down the monasteries in the period known as The Dissolution.

So back then no Catholic priest was allowed to practice The One True Faith. There were 3 hidey holes in Baddesley Clinton which they would have to rush to after bagging up their divine candlesticks, bibles and other holy paraphernalia. If it was early morning their mattresses had to be swiftly turned to prevent any residual body heat from giving them away.

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Marmion & Rebecca Ferrers and Edward Derin & Lady Georgiana, two married couples known as The Quartet began sharing the house in the 1860s. They were artistic types who restored the house, painted and wrote. When their spouses died, Rebecca and Edward were not permitted to live alone together so a priest moved in. This way the neighbour’s didn’t have much to gossip on. As it turned out Rebecca and Edward married each other. Maybe the lodger priest conducted the ceremony then moved on, sad to leave such a fine pad. The widow and widower certainly made sure they kept their dream home.

 

This curious face (Franc thinks it is meant to be an angel but I am not so sure) was on the underside of a four poster bed to stare down at its occupant.

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Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” was my ear-worm for the rest of the afternoon.

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This is 13 year old Edith, painted by her talented lady of the house Aunt Rebecca. I am impressed with this eye colour.

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We enjoyed the garden, although I did have to politely let down an autistic man called John who wanted to kiss me. His carer old him he was not allowed and made several attempts to move him along as he was set to be in conversation with us for the rest of the day covering random topics. He said he liked my giggle. Well at the least he didn’t just pucker up and plunge ahead uninvited. 

 

We were then off to see the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

 

 

 

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There was beetroot near the straw posse, my favourite.

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Franc and I had so much fun we returned on bikes the following week. I wanted to see into its church, St Michaels, since we didn’t catch it open at the end of the last visit. This time we were blocked again. There was a service about to begin and a deacon type looked longingly at us to fill pews. We resisted in case it was 2 hours long and regular attendance thereafter expected.

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It seemed we weren’t the only churchyard rebels. That’s a plastic flower.

 

 

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