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Queen Elizabeth I's persecution of Catholics sent priests into hiding.

The "pursuivants" of English Reformation were enlisted by Queen Elizabeth I to hunt down Catholic priests.

St. Nicholas Owen, tortured to death for creating hidden rooms for priests

St. Nicholas Owen was a Catholic carpenter with numerous disabilities and a genius for creating hidden rooms and passages. He was canonized in 1970, in belated recognition for one of the most brilliant and unappreciated Britons of the 16th and early 17th centuries.

Entrance to priest hole built by St. Nicholas Owen

An entrance to  a "priest hole" in the 16th-century manor house, Havrington Hall, Worcestershire, UK.

A priest hole in the staircase

A priest hole in the staircase made by Nicholas Owen in a 16th-century manor-house, Harvington Hall, Worcestershire, UK.

Priest holes were found in some of the stately homes of England.

Hindlip Hall, as it appeared in the 16th century, had as many as 12 priest holes.

Coughton Court in Warwickshire had several priest holes.

The Catholic family that has owned Coughton Court since the 15th century helped priests hide during the persecution of the English Reformation.

A priest's hole at Coughton Court

According to, this priest hole was made up of two compartments, one on top of the other. If the top compartment was found to be empty, the hope was that the searchers would look no further.

The future King Charles II hid in a priest hole at Boscobel House ...


... after he spent the night hiding in the "Royal Oak."

A descendant of the oak in which Charles II hid while fleeing after the Battle of Worcester, the final battle of the English Civil War.
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