With a National Art Pass you get
A moated medieval and Elizabethan manor house containing the finest series of priest hides anywhere in the country.
The Elizabethan house was built by Humphrey Pakington in the 1580s and on his death was inherited by his daughter Mary, Lady Yate. In 1644 it was pillaged by Roundhead troops; family letters from time refer to politics, London fashions and medical treatment, as well as business matters. The Hall passed to the Throckmortons of Coughton Court in Warwickshire in 1686 who owned the property until 1923. During the 19th century the Hall was stripped of furniture and panelling and the shell was left almost derelict. In 1923 it was bought for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham and it was restored and opened it to the public.
Many of the rooms still have their original Elizabethan wall-paintings, discovered under whitewash in 1936. The most important are the arabesque drawings and the figures of the Nine Worthies. The Small Chapel is decorated with red and white drops for the blood and water of the Passion and there are also traces of medieval work.
The famous priest-hides were built in the time of Humphrey Pakington, at the end of the 16th century, when it was high treason for a Catholic priest to be in England. Four of them, all sited round the Great Staircase, show the trademarks of master builder, Nicholas Owen, who was at work from 1588 onwards. Owen was servant to Henry Garnet, the Jesuit superior in England, who during the 1590s built up a network of houses throughout the country where incoming priests could be directed and where they could find disguises, chapels and priest holes.
Look out for The Wild Escape at museums and galleries in the next few months. Many have special events, or you can use our audio introduction to help children get involved at any cultural venue.
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The National Art Pass lets you enjoy free entry to hundreds of museums, galleries and historic places across the UK, while raising money to support them.